The Next Automotive Boom

Nissan Electric Car BatteryThe default position for many in the machining world has been to flee the automotive business like it was an ominous cloud of swine flu.

I admit to lapsing into that mindset, but after reading a provocative article in Inc. Magazine by Bernard Avishai I am becoming a believer in a new golden age of car technology.

Avishai used to sell car parts in college in the 1960s and is now a part-time professor at Hebrew University Jerusalem. He is convinced the electric car (plug-in) is coming soon in a big way and will present fabulous opportunities for entrepreneurs, including people who make stuff.

The core of the new electric vehicles will be the battery. The first generation batteries may come from LG in Korea but the much maligned Obama stimulus package is tossing a ton of taxpayer money at jump starting American competitors.

The cynics mock the $40,000 Chevrolet Volt coming in 2010, but what if it’s the prototype for an important new class of vehicles?

GM does not have Delphi anymore, but may have something much more valuable for the next decade of car making—OnStar.

According to the Inc. piece, OnStar gives GM the first mover position in car connectivity. We will see the connectivity of all of the car’s systems—charging data, mechanical components, GPS—as well as responding to collisions and malfunctions. If OnStar becomes the defacto standard for car connectivity it becomes the Windows of the new smart electric vehicles.

I think I have been so focused on the question of whether we are going to have a 10 or 12 million car year in America that I have missed the forest for the trees. The next several years will probably transform this gigantic business. With major change will come huge opportunities for entrepreneurs who are not wedded to making gas guzzlers.

Question: Are you looking to do more or less automotive work in the next several years?

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2 thoughts on “The Next Automotive Boom

  1. paul

    Electric cars are a pipe dream. Electric lacks what engineers call concentration of power. Electric is nowhere even remotely competitive to combustion engines in the power dept. A small, 4 cylinder engine can put out 100 hp. I’m sure you’ve seen drive motors on punch presses. They’re 3 ft long, 2 ft in diameter, weight a ton and put out a massive 20 hp.
    Natural gas will be the next transportation energy. Drivers can’t tell the difference between cng and gasoline. Both are powerful. Except cng is much, much cleaner and in abundance in the U.S.

  2. Steve Jackson

    Having been a prototype vendor on both the Volt Battery and the last several versions of the Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicles, I have come to the conclusion that to marry these two advancing technologies may be the best route for the future. The idea of zero emissions, and less dependence on foreign oil being the selling points.
    Recently I was able to drive one of the “Project Driveway” hydrogen fuel cell equipped Chevy Equinox. It was amazing, the acceleration and ride were truly unexpected. This test drive was about 35 miles of open country road and not on a test track. The vehicle was a bit front heavy due to the old 4.5 version of the fuel cell but newer cells have shrunk in size and weight significantly. Put with a developed lithium battery system, these technologies and changes in our infrastructure could be a win-win for the country and fuel a new economic recovery. Think about it, would you rather have jobs created in new and advanced infrastructure or jobs created in new government bureaucracy?


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