Posted: Mar 6, 2020
We’ve all seen the rise of electric and autonomous vehicles out on the road. As EV and AV technologies continue to advance, the cars on the roads are following suit. What exactly does this rise in EVs mean for metal stampers?
The ever-growing prominence of electric and autonomous vehicles presents new, unique opportunities and challenges in the metal stamping industry. Considering the shifting focus in the automotive industry will be key to the longevity and success of metal stampers everywhere.
Right now there is no debating that the age of the EV is upon us. According to S&P Global, global EV car sales surged 63 percent in 2018—by 79 percent in China, by 81 percent in the U.S., and by 34 percent in Europe. The International Energy Agency predicts that electric vehicles will grow from 3 million today to 125 million by 2030.
We’ve also seen the shift away from internal combustion engines (ICE) to EV and AV. Many major manufacturers are making moves to increase or roll out new electric vehicles within the next 3 years, including Volkswagen, Ford, GM, Volvo, and Dodge. This is not to mention manufacturers like Toyota, Nissan, and Honda which have been producing hybrid vehicles for years. This is both to meet customer demand and to comply with national and global vehicle emissions laws. 183 nations and the European Union have ratified the Paris Climate Accord, which is a promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2025 over 2015 emissions per car life cycle. This means the introduction of new energy policies that automakers must follow to remain not only competitive, but also legally compliant.
It’s also important to view this shift as a current trend and not a future trend. In 2020, the cost of batteries has fallen 90 percent through the decade while capacity has increased. With the addition of rechargeable zinc batteries, electric vehicles are ready to devour their market share now more than ever.
Electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles each have their own set of changes from traditional vehicles that metal manufacturing companies must be able to accommodate.
Electric vehicles are likely to see the most changes in their undercarriage, as their chassis will need space to hold rechargeable battery packs. Some batteries are even located in different sections of the vehicle- so the considerations needed to fit EV batteries into a vehicle are not necessarily one size fits all. Battery enclosures are looking to be the most prominent component that metal stampers will need to produce for EVs. Metal bracketry to hold those battery encasements in place will be another common type of component that metal stampers can offer to EV manufacturers at a lower cost per part than other metal part manufacturers can.
With EVs also comes the rise of EV charging stations, also called electric vehicle supply equipment or EVSE. These EVSE stations need to utilize highly conductive precision stamped parts in order to quickly deliver large quantities of power to EVs. Metal stampers can also offer fabricated enclosures for those charging stations at a competitive cost with quick lead times- especially manufacturers like Dayton Rogers, where we have fabrication stations on site at our metal stamping facilities.
Autonomous vehicles, on the other hand, are likely to see more significant changes in the body panels and framework. Body panels will need to be designed with room for additional cameras, sensors, and other technology mounting points to maximize functionality and safety features. Metal stampers can create lightweight mounting equipment for these sensors and cameras that offers both the durability and precision that they need.
For both types of vehicles, weight reduction should be at the top of everyone’s priority list. EVs need lighter components wherever they can be implemented to increase their range of travel on a single charge. AVs specifically need lighter and cheaper body panels to compensate for the added weight and cost of the aforementioned cameras and other sensor equipment. Metal stampers will need to take this into account by making sure that their tools and dies are capable of effectively shaping light weight metals without damaging them or otherwise sacrificing quality.
Metal manufacturing companies like stampers can stay ahead of the curve by taking proactive steps now. By taking the initiative to partner with producers further down the automotive supply chain, stampers can get on board early to address issues in their processes and adjust as needed to give customers the service they need.
One of the biggest challenges faced by metal stampers trying to serve the EV market is developing the proper tooling for components with new design parameters. To get more specific, the amount of time it takes to create new tooling and dies is one of the biggest hurdles for manufacturers to overcome. This lead time must be reduced to facilitate a shorter time from manufacturing facility to market. For smaller shops that are more accustomed to short runs this may be an issue that is easily addressed.
Another consideration with presses is that some stampers may need to work with unfamiliar materials or uncommon thicknesses. As technologies develop there will be a higher demand for more “exotic” metals desired for their properties like conductivity or light weight. There may even be a need for different types of presses to accommodate the parts needed for both electric and autonomous vehicles as more out-of-the-ordinary materials begin to enter circulation. This will affect both sheet metal fabrication companies and metal stampers alike.
Knowing that the automotive landscape is showing no signs of stagnating any time soon, Dayton Rogers has prepared to pivot toward serving the EV and AV markets. Our progressive and modular stamping equipment are well suited to handle the exotic metals that are becoming more common with the unique needs of EVs and AVs. Our modular stampings especially provide dimensional accuracy, precise reruns with high volume capability, and cost effectiveness for mounting bracketry and encasements. Our in-house tool room allows us to further customize stampings with value-added services such as machining and welding for jobs like fabricating EV charging station enclosures.
The best way for metal stampers to prepare for the electric vehicle revolution is by starting now. As electric vehicles climb in popularity, metal stamping businesses must either adapt while they have the chance or get left behind.
Dayton Rogers is your trusted resource for sheet metal fabrication, metal stamps, metalforming and all your manufacturing company needs. Get a free quote today on your custom metal fabrication project.
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