Focus on Specific EV Engineers
Usual Automakers have watched Tesla as recent but important competitor shaking the automotive market, and are preparing their own entries. While Mercedes is going to abandon the electric powertrain it purchases from Tesla for a new system with a range of about 300 miles, Audi is expected to unveil a rival to Tesla X at the next Frankfurt Auto Show, set to open his doors tomorrow. European automakers, driven by regulations demanding lower CO2 output, and an increasing popularity for plug-in hybrids, are bringing new performance to EV models in their portfolio. “Once you get over 200 miles, you are making something that is applicable for consumers,” said Thilos Koslowski, vice president and automotive practice leader at Gartner Inc. “They don’t have to change their behavior.”
Sales are increasing
According to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), hybrid and electric car sales will hit 1 million this month (September 2015). 2015 predicts a turning point in the democratization of electric vehicles. Globally, plug-in electric car sales (including plug-in hybrid sales) will hit 1 million this september.
Pure EV sales Worldwide have been increasing exponentially over the past 5 years, from 50,000 cars in 2011 to 300,000 cars in 2014 and an expected 430,000 cars in 2015. CAGR over the period is 71%. See chart below.
The U.S. remains the largest consumer of plug-in vehicles but its lead is slipping, as is Japan’s. Meanwhile Europe for the first time as a whole topped the U.S. market.
The Electric Vehicle market has finally taken off in Europe: 65,000 passenger and utility vehicles were registered in 2014, an increase of + 61% from 2013. This dynamism is largely linked to the performance of Norway and France. In 2015, according to Europe’s Automotive Industry Data newsletter, Western Europe purchased approximately 52,000 PEVS through April. These are comprised of 25,000 thousand plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and 27,000 battery electric vehicles (EVs).
Europe has witnessed faster yearly increases and the split between PHEVs and EVs has gas-electric PHEVs catching up and predicted to supercede EVs, whereas in the U.S. consumers are preferring more EVs.
Despite the fact that only 19,000 electric cars were sold in Germany in 2014, Germany had sales growth over 67,3 % in 2014.
Everything is Changing : New Components, New Materials, New Vehicle Systems
The big new move to integration in place of components-in-a-box are:
- component powertrain integration,
- structural electronics,
- emerging energy storage technologies,
- and new systems such as: sensor fusion, multiple energy, harvesting in-wheel systems, and fast inductive charging.
Disruptive new mechanical, electrical and electronic systems will be developed for an ever widening variety of electric vehicles. Innovation is benchmarked wherever it happens first. For instance, thermoelectrics and energy harvesting shock absorbers will soon appear first in many large vehicles – military to commercial, according to IDTechEx’ Conference on EVs.
Bodywork of carbon fiber will become structural electronics storing energy, and incorporating printed wiring, embedded sensors and human interfaces – rich new pickings for chemicals and intermediate materials suppliers. Suppliers will need to enroll a new breed of engineers to research and deploy these new technologies linked to EVs.
Highly demanded talents: Energy engineers
There are two important differences in positions and skills between the traditional automotive and EV / PHEV. The most demanded position in EV engineering is that of an Energy Engineer, with over 17% of open positions right now at Tesla. This engineering category does not exist in the traditional automobile industry.
The Energy Engineer covers a wide range of skills, such as fundamental electrochemistry of battery operation and performance, functions performed by a Battery Management System (BMS) (battery control software algorithms), developing embedded systems for charging, Thermal and mechanical modeling and testing, as well as knowledge in graphite-based anode materials.
In the case of factory openings (Gigafactory) and the expansion of existing production lines (new robotic lines), production engineers are also highly sought after with 12% of open positions. This is more than in the traditional automotive industry, where such jobs represent between 1 and 5% of open positions.
Where to find these profiles?
There are 3 times more Electrical equipment companies in the US than in Germany. This shows the need for OEMs and Germans suppliers to get these engineers abroad (over 2,500 headquarters in the US).