Electrification is changing the way automotive supply chains are working, and such is the speed of development that automakers are now looking beyond their own development teams for vital components in electric vehicles (EVs). It is also paving the way for new names to emerge.
Case in point, EV powertrains. While the market currently remains small, with just 2.14 million EVs sold last year, accounting for only three percent of all new vehicle sales globally, the volume is forecast to swell tenfold to 23.3 million vehicles in 2030, or 24% of all sales. As such, the race is well and truly on to develop e-axles, which combine motors, gearboxes and other drive components into an integrated system, as Nikkei Asia reports.
Traditionally, the playing field has been limited, as major automakers kept development and production of gasoline-powered engines in-house. However, EVs have disrupted this pattern, creating opportunities for both established parts makers and new entrants to attain a slice of the pie, regardless of borders and nationality.
Parts makers that once supplied engine components now see a new opportunity in e-axles. For example, Hyundai is buying power drive systems from US supplier BorgWarner for its compact EVs, set to begin production in 2023, while Peugeot has turned to Vitesco Technologies, a spinoff of major German supplier Continental.
Meanwhile, Nissan affiliate Jatco, which makes automatic transmissions, will start mass-producing e-axles by 2025 for Nissan and other EV makers at home and abroad. Elsewhere, Marelli, the result of a merger between Italian company Magneti Marelli and Japanese supplier Calsonic Kansei, aims to supply one million e-axles yearly as of 2025.
It’s not just established names that are benefiting, because e-axles are also providing the means for new names to break into the auto industry. One such player is Japan’s Nidec, which built its fortune on precision motors for electronics. The company moved quickly to build an e-axle factory in China, an early EV adopter, and has started supplying the systems to Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC) and Geely.
The development of batteries, which represents a third to half of an EV’s cost, show how auto industry outsiders can quickly become a force in the EV supply chain. Just four suppliers, in this case China’s CATL, Japan’s Panasonic and South Korean companies LG Chem and Samsung SDI, now control 75% of the battery market.
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