Home Web timeline An introduction to timelines, opportunities and preparation

An introduction to timelines, opportunities and preparation


The number of companies that existed to build horses and buggies dropped at the turn of 20e century — from 13,800 in 1890 to just 90 in 1920. A century later, as fate would have it, we are likely to enter a similar phase with the combustion engine vehicle.

There’s a good reason for that. After decades of dormancy, innovations in electric vehicles have produced a product that is simply better than what is currently on our roads. And it’s not just that they go from 0 to 60 in two seconds. “Beyond that, it runs cheaper and it’s more efficient than internal combustion,” Mike O’Donnell, Magnet’s vice president of operations, told me recently. “It’s better for the environment, less CO2.”

With California Ban on the sale of new petrol cars which is expected to begin in 2035 – and other states likely to follow suit – automakers with a hand in the auto industry should prepare for disruption. They will want to stay informed on a moving target schedule and be intentional about their path forward. With that in mind, here’s a primer on where things stand and what to expect.

Barriers to EV Adoption

The million-dollar question is how long it will take to reach critical mass, and therefore how urgently manufacturers in the combustion engine sector should plan their releases.

It might help to consider what we are currently experiencing as a huge chicken-and-egg problem. We simply don’t have the pieces in place to support the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. And without it, some consumers are hesitant to go all-electric, while automakers are taking a deliberate and measured approach to the transition. Then again, if consumers were to dive in headfirst or automakers were to stop selling combustion engine cars tomorrow, government agencies and utility companies would be forced to act much faster.

One of the biggest concerns right now is making sure we have the electric power needed to manage the adoption of heavier electric vehicles. Just weeks ago, during a prolonged heat wave in Texas that pushed its power grid to capacity, Tesla drivers received a note in the console asking them to charge only outside peak hours.

Our electrical networks are only equipped for limited use. That’s why California has had power outages during the summers when air conditioners hum. “To plug your car into your garage to charge that giant battery in there, we’re gonna need more juice, right?” said O’Donnell. “And there’s no more juice.” The precursor to the mass adoption of electric vehicles will therefore require not only modernize aging power grid infrastructure, but adding capacity to the power plants that provide the electricity, through a mix of natural gas, nuclear power or renewables like wind and solar. In the United States, renewable energy accounted for 19.8% of electricity production in 2020, a number should increase to 35% by 2030.

Beyond network issues, we will need to establish a reliable network of freely accessible charging stations, whether at service stations or elsewhere, so that consumers feel comfortable knowing that they will be able to find a charge no matter where they travel. This, again, will take time.

“I think a lot of people think, well, if we make a lot of these cars, like next year, we might have 100% electric cars, probably not,” O’Donnell says. “But it’s going to happen, whether it’s in five years or in 20 years.”

A quick side note: Recently, electric car manufacturers have been hit by the sharp increases in material prices felt by many throughout the supply chain, as demand for lithium outstrips supply. While this is a short-term trend that will cause some headaches, I find little reason to believe it will impact long-term trends towards electric vehicles. In fact, prices should stabilize and start falling by 2026.

The EV movement is on the right track.

How manufacturers can prepare for electric vehicles

With the exact timeline up in the air, the trick for manufacturers producing internal combustion engines or other parts designed for combustion engine vehicles will be to stay educated, stay prepared, and think critically about how they can leverage their skills, knowledge and resources. towards a new path.

Certainly, not all manufacturers in the automotive industry will be upset. Electric vehicles still need steering wheels. They still need dashboards and control panels. They still need a steering rack and seats. But for every job that remains, there will be several more that are not. Electric vehicles don’t need catalytic converters, exhaust systems, engines or transmissions, billions of manufacturing dollars that will go away.

And while there are smart ways for workers in these industries to transition to new ones, it’s extremely important to have a clear eye on how your specific skills and expertise will stack up. “One thing that’s not going to happen is a company that takes aluminum, melts it, casts it, drills holes in it, mills it, puts pistons in it – they’re not going to make a drums,” O’Donnell said. “With batteries, it’s a chemical process. You have chemicals, you mix them, you make pastes, make membranes, that’s a whole different process.

That’s not to say there’s no future for these manufacturers. “If they invest, they could migrate to something other than engines,” O’Donnell says. “Maybe they get into powertrain design because they know about combustion and how flames spread and those engines. Maybe it’s not that they use the same capital equipment , but they can use their technical knowledge and transfer it to another industry.”

EV opportunities

For as much disruption as the transition to electric vehicles will bring, it also represents an incredible opportunity for manufacturers willing to anticipate and invest early.

Injection molders, for example, should examine the thick plastic boxes that form the exterior of electric vehicle batteries. These skills translate.

Thick yarn already exists inside cars today. Cable makers and connection makers should talk to Teslas and GMs around the world to understand the wiring needs of the electric vehicle industry, the specific connections that these vehicles require.

Batteries will be big business – there’s a reason states compete to land factories. But there are opportunities across the entire EV ecosystem. Automakers that prepare for the inevitable transition to an electric vehicle ecosystem will be the ones that not only survive, but thrive, in an all-electric future.