Global Cross-Industry Collaboration Accelerates Electrification Success

Two Automotive Engineers Working on Electric Car Chassis Platform, Taking Measures, working with 3D CAD Software, Analysing Efficiency. Vehicle Frame with Wheels, Engine and Battery.The pace of growth and adoption of electric vehicles is undeniable. New models and technologies are launched with regularity and players outside the automotive segment are dabbling in meaningful, game changing ways. But how has the shift happened so quickly, particularly against a backdrop of otherwise challenging socio-economic difficulties globally?

First, consumers want more options for energy-efficient transportation and will no longer be patient nor content to wait 10 years for automakers to develop and bring new EV models to market. And, second, this has prompted a requirement to reduce production cycles to less than two years, which cannot be achieved following the ingrained model that automakers have practiced for decades.  And that brings us to the third notable driver – collaboration. 

Collaboration driving the automotive supply chain

Automotive manufacturing is a multi-disciplinary enterprise that demands high levels of rapport and input from numerous cross-industry sectors to ensure effective production of new models.  But in the acceleration in the EV sector, collaboration is required on a completely unprecedented scale. The recent Innovation in Automotive Electrification survey commissioned by Molex and conducted by Dimensional Research has revealed that increased collaboration is seen as the most likely driver for innovation in vehicle electrification. Leading OEMs and Tier 1 and 2 suppliers need to work together and leverage distribution partners to utilize new technology in order to put new EV models on the road – and fast.

Successful collaboration that ultimately solves some of the biggest design challenges in automotive is not a chance happening between providers – it requires decades of experience not just in automotive but also in data center and mobile device industries, supply chains and beyond.

Take road noise cancelation, for example. Electric vehicle manufacturers recently discovered the need to combat unwanted road noise in ultra quiet EVs, an issue that was never recognized as a problem in traditional cars with internal combustion engines that hide road noise. To solve this issue, Molex collaborated with audio systems and technology leader Bose to develop a solution that combined Molex’s automotive Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) accelerometer-based sensors with Bose’s QuietComfort Road Noise Control technology to produce industry-leading noise reduction performance technology. The result was an innovative solution that minimizes road, tire and chassis noise at even the slowest speeds while simplifying system design. Together, the two industry experts combined forces to address a challenging concern that may have hindered adoption if not addressed. This achievement underscores the need to collaborate with experienced innovators to stay at the forefront of design needs, issues and solutions that support the unique requirements of this dynamic market.

Increasing pressure to collaborate

With the rapid pace of change, the EV industry remains on the cusp of a revolution. Survey findings confirmed that challenges persist in such critical areas as vehicle charging time, vehicle range, as well as autonomous and driver assistance – and improvements are needed. Auto makers struggle with staying ahead in these resource-intensive areas driven by consumers that playfully – yet seriously – vie for the one-million-mile car. Next-generation vehicles sporting million-mile warranties could become a reality sooner than later thanks to the undisputed rise in EVs and resulting new, agile players who’ve entered the market. By design, these cars are built more simply, with significantly fewer moving parts. Despite this, though, both major and minor EV players acknowledge that they’re struggling to innovate the myriad technologies incorporated into controller units; wiring; connectors and busbars; cameras and sensors; and powertrain electronics.

The “speeds and feeds” challenges encountered in the development of EVs are complex, requiring the application of a unique expertise in connectivity to satisfy the constant demand for more bandwidth and greater functionality.

In-house expertise in short supply

Another significant factor driving cross-industry collaboration is that expertise is in short supply, with 91% of survey respondents reporting a wide range of issues finding expertise on vehicle electrification. Interestingly, 50% cited competition with technology companies making it extremely difficult to hire, and more than 40% felt that Tier 1 suppliers didn’t have enough expertise in electrification.

Facing this level of challenge, both traditional auto manufacturers and the new breed of smart, software-driven players know that they cannot find all the required solutions in isolation. They must consult trusted collaborators to stay ahead – and relevant – in an ever-changing, hyper-dynamic market.

Global collaboration:  the solution to meeting EV market demand

Smart EV companies have developed new delivery models that allow them to solve complex ecosystem problems. This ensures these new players are integrated into the global auto sector to meet burgeoning consumer demand for EVs.  Examples include:

With these significant efforts around the globe, it is still important to acknowledge that to date, some of the most successful EV makers are Chinese. In fact, China has created the world’s largest plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market. In 2020, nearly half of the world’s plug-in electric car production and 90% of heavy-duty electric vehicle production occurred in China. Additionally, China players BYD, BAIC, Geely, and SAIC have already achieved significant economies of scale.

This level of expertise has been achieved not just with strategic planning, but also with agility and collaboration. In China, a collaborative approach was put into action right from the onset, with internet giant Baidu playing its part through the ‘open’ development of the Apollo autonomous driving platform.

Collaboration is key in developing future-facing EV architecture that meets ever-evolving consumer demands. Molex’s commitment to our customers, plus a collaborative willingness to contribute innovative solutions to solve complex problems, means the next-generation electric powertrain motor control units, electronic control units and battery management systems are empowered with the latest design and innovation. It’s just one of the ways we’re collaborating to propel the automotive industry forward in this remarkable evolution.

Vice President, Global Automotive Sales at Molex