Electric Cars: The stakes are raised

Dr Peter Harrop
Electric Cars: The stakes are raised
Professors at management school counsel that industrialists take one risk at a time. For example, take on huge debt or new technology or new markets but not all together. Even with technology, improve say the car you make but slowly - one bit at a time.
That is all well and good with a slow-moving industry but car manufacture no longer fits that business model. The exquisite BMW i8 is electric apart from the tiny range extender and, totally appropriately, Proton's first hybrid car being launched in 2015 will be massively reinvented. For instance, it will have most or all of the following - rotary combustion range extender, supercapacitors replacing traction batteries and in-wheel motors. If Proton pulls this off they may enjoy big wins in space, range, fuel economy, reliability and ride.
A revolution is slicing through the car industry. Small cars may be mainly made in China and in small companies across the world. They will be ready for prime time in a few years from now and, with new technology, they will be easy to make. Contrast medium and large cars because they have increasingly complex drive trains for comfort and efficiency at long range. They will very rapidly adopt hundreds of new technologies including six new types of energy harvesting, new motors, new range extenders, batteries, power semiconductors, telematics and electrical bodywork - structural electronics.
Manufacturers changing too slowly face a double whammy - declining share of declining markets. There will be high profile bankruptcies. And professors at management school? Eat your heart out. The game has changed. It is now "double or bust".