March 2021

The electric vehicle revolution is charging along, and the current is getting ever stronger as a whole battery of companies amp up their commitment to the electrification of their model range or look to embrace the technology completely.

OK, cringeworthy puns aside, the news from the past few weeks has once again strengthened the sense that, despite the still relatively small global sales numbers for pure electric vehicles, the future will indeed be one in which they will dominate.

When, exactly, that time will come is still uncertain, although the increasingly tight deadlines being promoted by governments, especially in Europe, for the end of fossil fuel-powered vehicle sales can give us a guide. However, after the news from General Motors that it will be carbon neutral in its global products and operations by 2040 and that, to achieve that, it will ‘eliminate tailpipe emissions from new light-duty vehicles by 2035’, a host of other big-name manufacturers revealed similar ambitions.
Jaguar Land Rover announced in February that it is heading down the fully electric path, and that all its models are to be available in pure electric form by the end of the decade.

While the company said that Land Rover will, in the next five years, have six all-electric variants in its portfolio, Jaguar will be transformed into a pure-electric luxury brand.

Ford also joined in the fun. While the Blue Oval has already moved strategically towards electrification and invested much to be amongst the movers and shakers in the industry’s technological revolution, it announced that by mid-2026, it will have 100 per cent of its passenger vehicle range be zero-emissions capable, all-electric or plug-in hybrid in Europe, and that its available range on the continent will be completely all-electric by 2030.

Similarly, the company said its entire commercial vehicle range will be zero-emissions capable, all-electric or plug-in hybrid, by 2024.

The electrifying news does not stop there.Also last month, EV company Fisker – which has a couple of pure electric models in development – revealed it had come to an agreement with electronics manufacturer Foxconn to develop and manufacture another new all-electric model.

That might not sound like big news in and of itself – there is, after all, a constant stream of announcements regarding new or proposed electric vehicle models – but the difference here is the involvement of Foxconn.

Also known as the Hon Hai Technology Group, Foxconn is a true manufacturing and technology powerhouse, and as the world’s largest provider of electronics manufacturing services it builds everything from smartphones to video game consoles, circuit boards and semiconductors, televisions, and a multitude of other high-tech electronic products. Subsidiaries include well-known brands such as Sharp and Belkin and the company has factories across the world and employs something approaching one million people.

Foxconn has also already taken its first steps into the world of electric vehicles, announcing in 2020 that it was talking with both Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (now Stellantis) as well as Taiwan’s Yulon Group on joint ventures. And in January this year, the company revealed it had signed an agreement with Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (whose subsidiaries include Volvo, Polestar, and Lotus) to establish a joint venture to provide services relating to whole vehicles, parts, intelligent drive systems, and platforms, to the global automotive industry.

The deal with Fisker – in which the companies will jointly develop and sell a new EV under the Fisker brand – aims to deliver more than 250,000 units annually and start production in just two years.

The point here is that Foxconn is a behemoth of a technology company with real EV ambitions. It does not, it appears, wish to become a manufacturer under its own name, but rather deliver the foundation upon which EVs can be built and, as in the Fisker deal, build the cars for customers.

Perhaps most interestingly – and in line with the idea of being a behind-the-scenes player – Foxconn also has developed the MIH platform, an open EV platform available to partners and third-party developers to build upon. In relation to this MIH open platform, the company said in a statement that it aimed to position it as the ‘android system of the EV industry’.
With such a heavyweight tech firm – rather than a traditional automaker – setting its sights upon the EV sector, things definitely get interesting.

A final word on the EV revolution would be to note the deal between the United States Postal Service (USPS) and U.S. manufacturer Oshkosh. You can read more about the deal on Page 48, but Oshkosh is to build and deliver up to 165,000 zero emission battery electric vehicles (BEV) and fuel-efficient low-emission internal combustion engine vehicles to replace the USPS’ ageing delivery van fleet.

It is an enormous deal, and while it was in the works before U.S. President Biden’s announcement earlier this year about the replacement of the U.S. government’s entire fleet of vehicles (some 650,000 units) with electrified vehicles, it is surely the sign of things to come.

Source: Motor Trader e-Magazine (March 2021)

10 March 2021

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