Electrification has brought with it a whole host of new technologies. Those new technologies have brought with them a whole host of new skills. It’s all new, new, new.
So, what are OEMs doing with all the ‘old’ stuff that’s left over?
ICE motors contain very established and already developed technologies, but these traditional technologies and components are becoming increasingly redundant in the electric age. OEMs and their engineers have worked on for them for many years and the technologies have had significant investment over the years to get them to market. There’s little wonder that the OEMs are reluctant to just cast them aside entirely.
Since the push towards electrification really ramped up, there has also been a significant uplift in the manufacturing of hyper-cars. Many new models have come to market in recent years, like the Aston Martin Valkyrie, Pininfarina Battista and Koenigsegg.
These vehicles promote and show off the shiny new tech and advancements that have been made whilst still nodding towards traditional methods.
In June 2019 BMWs Fröhlich called electric cars ‘overhyped’ and said that customers in Europe ‘simply don’t want them’. There’s distinct evidence to the contrary, electric car sales are on the rise across Europe and there’s more demand than ever before.
Truth, or just the words of an OEM leader trying to protect the significant investment in traditional powertrain technology?
Can you teach an old dog new tricks?
Now, we’re not going around saying that engineers who have worked on ICE motors are dogs, but OEMs do need to consider whether they can upskill their existing workforce to being able to work on electric vehicles. Can the ‘old’ skills associated with ICE components transfer over?
We’ve talked about skills before here, but the crooks of it is that it can be quite tricky for OEMs to transfer their existing workforce over. Not impossible, but tricky. For example, mechanical engineering is a lot more prevalent in an ICE motor and the mechanical components in an EV is quite different. The transition from one to the other can be difficult. It’s certainly not impossible, however, particularly if the person in question isn’t solely specialised in combustion/fuel.
So yes, OEMs can upskill their existing engineers, but it isn’t the easiest task.
Using ICE technology in future
Yes, the future is electric, but the transformation can’t happen overnight.
Our infrastructure is fundamentally made to support ICE rather than EV, we need many more charging points and more R&D needs to go into battery range vs the time taken to charge.
One of the most interesting aspects of the move towards electrification is how developments to traditional technologies is acting as the stopgap between ICE and electric. There is much research going into making petrol/diesel engines more efficient as the world continues to embrace and prepare for electrification. This is where the concept of ‘future fuels’ comes in, such as running an ICE engine on hydrogen.
There’s a lot of new, new, new, in the OEM space, but there’s still a use for more traditional technologies yet.
Find out more about how electrification is impacting the OEM space by downloading our latest insight report – Electrification & the Skills Impact | Part 2 | OEMs