New suppliers race to enter the electric car market

New suppliers race to enter the electric car market
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WOKING, UK, Jan 23 (Reuters) – The global auto industry has committed $1.2 trillion to develop electric vehicles (EVs), providing a golden opportunity for new suppliers to get contracts that provide everything from battery packs to motors and inverters.

Startups specializing in batteries and coatings to protect EV parts, and suppliers traditionally focused on niche motorsports or Formula 1 (F1) racing, are pursuing EV contracts. Car manufacturers design platforms to last for decades, so high-volume models can generate huge revenues for years.

The next generation of EVs will launch around 2025, and many automakers have sought help to fill gaps in their expertise, providing a window of opportunity for new suppliers.

Nick Fry, CEO of F1 engineering and technology firm McLaren Applied, said: “How do you get Henry Ford to say, ‘How do you get them to run properly?’ We are back to the days when he asked, “he says.

“This is a great opportunity for companies like us.”

Acquired from McLaren by private equity firm Greybull Capital in 2021, McLaren Applied has adapted an efficient inverter developed for F1 racing for EVs. An inverter helps control the flow of electricity to and from the battery pack.

The silicon carbide IPG5 inverter weighs just 5.5 kg (12 lb) and can increase the range of an EV by over 7%. Fry says McLaren Applied is working with around 20 automakers and suppliers, and the inverter will appear in high-volume luxury EV models from January 2025.

Mass-market automakers often choose to develop EV components in-house and own the technology themselves. After years of epidemic-related parts shortages, they are wary of over-reliance on suppliers.

“We cannot afford to rely on third parties to make these investments for us,” said Ford chairman Tim Slatter. (FN) in Britain.

Traditional suppliers such as German heavy cannons bosch and Continent (CONG.DE)it also invests heavily in EVs and other technologies to stay ahead in a rapidly changing industry.

But he says there are still opportunities for smaller companies, especially low-volume manufacturers who can’t afford large EV investments, or luxury and high-performance automakers looking for an edge.

Croatian Rimac, electric hypercar manufacturer partly owned by German Porsche AG (P911_p.DE) The company, which also supplies battery systems and drivetrain components to other automakers, says an undisclosed German automaker will use a Rimac battery system in a high-performance model with an annual production of around 40,000 units, with more people starting this year.

“We need to be 20%, 30% better than what they can do and then they work with us,” says CEO Mate Rimac. “If they can make a 100 kilowatt battery pack, we should make a 130 kilowatt battery in the same dimensions and at the same cost.”


Some suppliers, such as Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Actnano, have long-standing relationships with EV pioneer Tesla. (TSLA.O). Actnano has developed a coating that protects EV parts from condensation, and its business has expanded to advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and other automakers, including Volvo. (VOLCARb.ST)Ford, BMW (BMWG.DE) and Porsche.

California-based startup CelLink has developed a fully automated, flat, and easy-to-install “flexible harness” to bundle and route cables in a vehicle, instead of wiring. CEO Kevin Coakley did not reveal the identities of the customers, but said CelLink’s wiring harnesses are plugged into nearly a million EVs. Only Tesla has this scale.

Coakley said CelLink is working with US and European automakers and a European battery manufacturer on battery wiring.

Others focus on low-volume manufacturers such as the UK-based Ionetic, which develops battery packs that are too expensive for smaller companies to produce themselves.

“It’s very expensive to electrify right now, so you see some manufacturers delaying the launch of electrification,” said CEO James Eaton.

Since 1971 Swindon Powertrain has been developing powerful motorsport engines. But now it has also developed battery packs, electric drivetrains, e-axles and works with nearly 20 customers, including car manufacturers and an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft manufacturer.

“I realized that if we don’t embrace that, we’re going to end up working for museums,” said Managing Director Raphael Caille.

But time may be running out.

Mate Rimac says major automakers have struggled to bring EVs to market over the past three years, and now their strategy is largely in place.

“I’m not sure how long the window of opportunity will remain open for those who haven’t signed on to the projects,” he said.

($1 = 0.8226 pounds)

Reporting, Nick Carey, Editing, Mark Potter

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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