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EVs Hit a Rough Patch

Jan. 29, 2024


Jim Lucy2012 770 2 610438868da43

Times & Trends: A New Era of Innovation

July 30, 2021
Technological advances are quietly creating some out-of-this-world sales opportunities.

I just had to watch the launch of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket. The sight of him; his brother; Wally Funk, an amazing 83-year-old women and trailblazing NASA test pilot; and a lucky Dutch teenager whose dad bought him a ticket for the trip, was must-see TV.

But what intrigues me even more are Bezos’ plans to drive down the costs of commercial space flights so private industry can build space-based factories to manufacture new products that need the micro-gravity conditions of outer space. Bezos and other commercial space advocates like Space Tango, LambdaVision and AxiomSpace and see applications for space travel far beyond providing rides for uber-rich space tourists. These technologists are exploring how to manufacture products requiring a micro-gravity environment, like ultra-efficient ZBLAN fiber-optic cable and semiconductors, and even artificial retinas and body organs printed from 3-D bio-printers.

According to New Glenn, a commerical space venture that’s part of Bezos’ Blue Origin, “Our mission is to develop reliable low-cost launch vehicles and customer-focused services that will enable a thriving commercial orbital ecosystem. The goal is to foster new industries that can access the limitless resources of space and improve life here on Earth. We envision a future where millions of people will be living and working in space.”

The EV opportunity. There’s plenty of exciting new products and new market frontiers to be conquered back here on earth in the electrical industry. EW Associate Editor Ellie Coggins looks at one of them in this issue on page 20 — the expansion of the nation’s high-speed broadband network, currently part of the infrastructure bill now under consideration in Congress. In our last issue, Ellie looked at electric-vehicle charging stations, another new product area starting to become part of electrical distributors’ product portfolios. They may get a boost through the infrastructure bill. In addition to EV charging stations and high-speed broadband expansion, the infrastructure bill may create sales opportunities in the renovation and expansion of the electrical grid and retrofit of school and government buildings.

I recently met several EV evangelists at a Formula-E race for electrically powered race cars in Brooklyn, NY. I realized how far the EV market had come when I attended a dinner before the race and learned I was one of only two people at the table who didn’t own an EV. Another takeaway from that event is that ABB, the lead sponsor for the race, and other manufacturers of EV charging equipment see big opportunities in the fleet market, where delivery vehicles and work trucks don’t run over 150 miles in a day and can easily be charged at night at their companies’ centralized charging facilities.

Over the next 12 months, you will see new EV light-duty vans and trucks hit the market from well-known players like Ford and GM, as well as new companies like Rivian and Electric Last Mile Solutions (ELM). Converting your fleet of delivery vehicles to EVs may even make financial sense way before you ever expected.

Connected lighting. When you stop and look at other technological advancements in some core and adjacent electrical market niches, it quickly becomes apparent just how much R&D has been underway, even during the depths of the COVID-19 crisis. Think about all of the new options in lighting control, and how your customers can customize lighting temperature, color and scheduling — all from a smartphone app. It wasn’t all that long ago that you needed a certified lighting consultant to design a system with these capabilities.

5G networks. While it seems like the nationwide expansion of 5G networks has been a bit slow, your VDV-oriented electrical contractors are quite capable of installing private 5G networks as demand for them increases.

Renewables. The viability of the wind and solar markets as a major sales opportunity is still quite regional and dependent on the amount of sunlight and wind, and the availability of state or local incentives. But R&D underway in this market continues to drive down costs of wind turbines, solar panels and batteries that store the electricity they produce.

As you start your 2022 market planning process, now is a good time to evaluate if any of these or other new technologies can fuel new growth for your company.

About the Author

Jim Lucy | Editor-in-Chief of Electrical Wholesaling and Electrical Marketing

Jim Lucy has been wandering through the electrical market for more than 40 years, most of the time as an editor for Electrical Wholesaling and Electrical Marketing newsletter, and as a contributing writer for EC&M magazine During that time he and the editorial team for the publications have won numerous national awards for their coverage of the electrical business. He showed an early interest in electricity, when as a youth he had an idea for a hot dog cooker. Unfortunately, the first crude prototype malfunctioned and the arc nearly blew him out of his parents' basement.

Before becoming an editor for Electrical Wholesaling  and Electrical Marketing, he earned a BA degree in journalism and a MA in communications from Glassboro State College, Glassboro, NJ., which is formerly best known as the site of the 1967 summit meeting between President Lyndon Johnson and Russian Premier Aleksei Nikolayevich Kosygin, and now best known as the New Jersey state college that changed its name in 1992 to Rowan University because of a generous $100 million donation by N.J. zillionaire industrialist Henry Rowan. Jim is a Brooklyn-born Jersey Guy happily transplanted with his wife and three sons in the fertile plains of Kansas for the past 30 years. 

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