Monday, March 8, 2021

Electric mobility is glamour

Simultaneously with the most annoying design event of the year, the Milan Design Week, which tooked place from 9th to 14th April, featured the first edition of BluE eMobility Days, six days of events and debates dedicated to electric mobility and its evolution. Thus, smart mobility has attracted worldwide interest with “Salone del Mobile”, “Fuorisalone” and Design Week, a strategic choice to represent, in perspective, a model of world excellence in the transition to widespread and sustainable mobility. There is therefore a great link between design appeal and sustainable mobility. Another example is the initiative of Repower, a global group active in the energy sector and player in electric mobility, with the LAMBROgio and LAMBROgino cargobikes, designed by Makio Hasuike.

The light three-wheeled and assisted pedal vehicles characterized by aesthetic pleasantness and great comfort, astonished the visitors of the FuoriSalone, as well as the benches hi-tech E-LOUNGE for recharging bikes and other devices, located inside Piazza Castello.

Car suitable as electricity grid reserve

To meet the universal desire for a transition to decentralised energy generation from renewable sources, new and innovative solutions for stabilising the electricity grid are necessary. The increasing use of renewable energy leads to fluctuations in the grid, which must be initially balanced by primary regulation, able to prevent impending power cuts at a second’s notice.

In Hagen (Germany) an important milestone on the road to emission-free energy and mobility has been achieved by technology company The Mobility House, energy supplier Enervie, transmission system operator Amprion and car maker Nissan. With the Nissan Leaf and an innovative charging and energy management technology, the project partners have succeeded in qualifying an electric car for all the Tso regulatory requirements for primary power regulation. This means that the car can be integrated as a regulating reserve for the German electricity grid – a breakthrough in the establishment of Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology in Germany.
Electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf, with integrated bidirectional charging technology, is able not only to extract power from the grid and store it in its traction battery, but, if necessary, also to feed power back. This is called the Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) concept.

The bidirectional chargeability of Nissan’s electric car is the foundation for its integration in the pilot project at the Enervie site in Hagen. In combination with innovative, intelligent charging and energy management technology from The Mobility House, the charging and discharging processes can be controlled and monitored.
As one of four Tso’s responsible for the transmission of power in Germany, and thus charged with the stability of the power grid, Amprion is a supporter of the ambitious V2G project. The Tso has defined the technical and regulatory requirements for prequalifying a mobile battery storage unit for the market for primary regulation. Amprion has now approved the Nissan Leaf, as the first electric car, in combination with the control system from The Mobility House, as suitable for this function.

How do electric motors impact on the manufacturing industry?

A phenomenon that is living a vertiginous growth and promises relevant numbers. We will increasingly witness a cohabitation among the various propulsion modalities and an adaptation of the industrial system. What will be the repercussions for small and medium engineering companies that manufacture mechanical components for the big production sector of motors and of motion in general?

By Stefano Colletta,
Technical Director of Subfornitura News-Tecniche Nuove

In the past, when motors were the conversation subject, it was almost unavoidable to think of a standard internal combustion engine, maybe of some old frames of some black and white movies. Today instead, speaking of motors from the industrial point of view certainly means referring to a constant process of technological innovation as well as to an increasingly green production and consumption methodology of goods. We take care of our health and of the one of our planet and we more and more tend to design and build a healthy environment.
The atmospheric pollution is one of the main causes of mortality and this phenomenon can be more surveyed in cities because in narrow spaces a higher concentration of CO2 persists. Therefore, we design fully “green” houses and entire cities; an ecologic culture grows and, obviously, the entire automotive industry cannot get away from this phenomenon. As a matter of fact, Toyota, Nissan, Citroen, BMW, Mercedes, Kia, Opel, Fiat, Hyundai and Volkswagen, all of them have a selection of electric models in their portfolio. Volvo, for instance, has announced it is going to modify, starting from 2019, the entire production of electric cars. A phenomenon – the implementation of electric motors in the various industrial fields – that no longer concerns just cars. Today it is possible to drive electric bikes with more and more professional characteristics; motorbikes with exceptional performances, such as CRP or Harley Davidson; to navigate with Riva boats; to compete with an electric single-seater. But not only, the industrial world is gradually getting in touch with it, packaging, food processing machines, machine tools, all those fields where there is the need of doing actions through a motion inside the machine itself.

The implementation of electric motors in the various industrial fields will no longer concerns just cars. The industrial world is gradually getting in touch with it: packaging, food processing machines, machine tools, all those fields where there is the need of doing actions through a motion inside the machine itself

Rising matter, then, and with noteworthy numbers. Let us consider, for instance, once more the car world. Today 2 millions of electric cars are circulating whereas about 600 millions are expected in 2014, against, however, 1 billion of cars that will circulate still using the green petrol and diesel. We will witness a cohabitation among the various propulsion modalities – thermal, electric and hybrid – and an adaptation by the industrial system to what nowadays still seems a not mature system, however already steeply rising. What about small and medium engineering companies that produce mechanical components for the big production field of motors and of motion in general? What will be the repercussions on this manufacturing area? Certainly, we will no longer need certain components in the same quantities as today. Companies and subcontractors must and will have to seize the signs that will increasingly come from the market and from their customers, modify the supplied sectors and sometimes give up activities that have stopped being remunerative and demanded by the various manufacturing fields. New competence and specialization areas, specific training and new figures to be employed in companies will be necessary. Some entrepreneurial realities will look at electric motors with a critical attitude because they will have probably failed their own transformation but any novelty or change always generates new opportunities and it up to us reaping them. The future will be greener than today, complex, competitive and even more variegated, issuing new challenges for our engineering companies.

ANFIA, three FSAE Italian teams and their cars

Last March 30th closed the experience for Formula SAE Italy (FSAE Italy) at MECSPE (Fiere di Parma, 28-30/03), the meeting point between technologies to produce and industrial supply chains, thanks to the sinergy among the 12 fairs which happen at the same time.
The three days in Parma represented an important halfway point on the way to the official event scheduled on July from 24th to 28th at “Riccardo Paletti” racetrack in Varano de’ Melegari, when Formula SAE Italy ( will welcome 100 universities teams from all over the world (33 with an electric car, 52 with a combustion car, 10 with a driverless car and 5 for class 3, with the project only, without car) which challenge each others in the designing and in the realization of a racing prototype.
The ANFIA-Formula SAE stand during the exhibition hosted three FSAE Italian teams and their cars: UniPR Racing Team of the University of Parma with their combustion car, Squadra Corse PoliTo of the Polytechnic University of Torino with their electric car, both of them will be part of the official event in July – and MoRe Modena Racing team of the University Modena e Reggio Emilia with their combustion car.
The ANFIA-Formula SAE stand also included a space dedicated to Dallara – one of the historical sponsors of the event together with FCA – which hosted a FIA Formula 2 (F2) car and organized few conferences in the neighboring workshop area.
“The participation of FSAE Italy at MECSPE gave to the teams the chance to get in contact with some potential sponsors, to explain to the innovation technologies used to build the cars and it gave to ANFIA the chance to let the exhibition learn about this event which stands out the designing abilities but also the management and the team working of the young automotive engineering – says Gianmarco Giorda, Director of ANFIA. MECSPE experience contributes to put in contact two world which are still pretty distance but connected, like the University’s world and the companies one”.

E-mobility, the electric-vehicle disruption is inevitable

Almost 1.2 million electric cars sold in the world in 2017, the most positive result ever obtained, and it is expected that such trend will be confirmed for 2018 with 2 million new electric cars on the market. In Italy, the technological maturity is the reference indicator that shows fewer criticalities, on the contrary the regulatory maturity is the area with more gaps.

The E-mobility Report 2018, developed by the Energy & Strategy Group of Milan Polytechnics, managed by Professor Vittorio Chiesa, has highlighted the state of the art of the electric vehicle market in Italy, Europe and in the rest of the world.

The world situation

In 2017, almost 1.2 million electric cars were sold in the world, over 1% of the total of new registrations and 57% more compared to the 750,000 units in 2016. It is the most positive result ever achieved and it is expected that such trend will be confirmed for 2018 with 2 million new electric cars on the market. With around 580,000 cars sold in 2017 and a 72% growth versus the previous year, China is the biggest world market, overcoming Europe that confirms to be second in the ranking with almost 290,000 sold units and scoring the 39% increment. United States follow with 200,000 (+27%) and Japan is at the fourth place with 56,000 cars and a noteworthy +155% compared to 2016.

Vittorio Chiesa, Energy & Strategy Group Manager of Milan Polytechnics

The e-mobility in Italy – specified Vittorio Chiesa – is not a market where the growth is missing. Absolute numbers are still small in comparison with other big European Countries but the sensation we can perceive among sector players is that the electric mobility is anything but an elitist fashion for lovers of sustainability and technology but it is instead becoming a fundamental component of the way of devising the transports of the future

In Europe

In European ambit, the first market is – indisputably – Norway, with 62,000 vehicles sold, that is to say the third Country by registrations after China and United States, but with a significant 39% out of the overall car sales inside the Country. Germany conquers the second position in the European market, with almost 55,000 registrations, over the double than in 2016 (+117%), also due to the direct incentive to purchase (4,000 Euros for a BEV, 3,000 Euros for a PHEV) and the exemption from the payment of the road tax for 10 years since the purchase time. Germans have surpassed the United Kingdom, which stopped at about 47,000 and +27%, third Country in Europe by registrations of electric vehicles (13% of the total) that offers a direct incentive amounting to 35% of the purchase cost, for a maximum of 5,100 Euros for a BEV and around 2,800 Euros for a PHEV, in addition to a reduction of yearly taxes. France follows with 37,000 and +26% and it directly incentives the purchase of an electric vehicle up to a maximum of 6,000 Euros, with a further incentive of 4,000 Euros for a BEV and 2,500 Euros for a PHEV if as replacement of a diesel vehicle with over 11 years of service life. These first four Countries attain 70% of the total in Europe.

Global sales of electric cars
In 2017, for the first time it was exceeded one million of cars sold on a world scale, over 1% of overall new registrations. We expect that such positive trend is confirmed for 2018, at the end of which 2 million new electric cars are likely to be present on the market
Sales by geographical area
With around 580,000 cars sold in 2017 and a 72% growth versus the previous year, China is the biggest world market, overcoming Europe that confirms to be second in the ranking with almost 290,000 sold units and scoring the 39% increment

«In this ranking – explained Professor Vittorio Chiesa, director of the Energy Strategy Group of the Polytechnics – even if it has shown strong growth signs in 2017 and in 2018, Italy is still very behind and in 2017 it weighed by less than 2% in the European market of electric vehicles, against 13% of total registrations. The main hindrances connected with the take-off of the electric vehicle market are the high purchase cost of cars, the problems concerning the inadequacy of the recharge network and the limited autonomy».

In Italy

Italy is the third nation in Europe, preceded by Luxembourg and Malta, by number of per head vehicles. They have surveyed that there are over 7 vehicles every 10 inhabitants, one more than in France, Germany and UK, where this ratio is included between 5.8 and 5.9. Besides, the average age of a car of the fleet circulating in Italy is higher, with 10.7 years against 9 of France and Germany and 8.5 of the United Kingdom. In the light of these data, we can foresee a renewal that should lead to a significant adoption of electric vehicles. All that induces to think that in 2030 in Italy we might have 7.5 million circulating electric vehicles and a volume of investments amounting to 61 billion Euros.

Europe recharge points
If we make a comparison between the recharge infrastructures in Italy and the rest of the Old Continent, the existing gap is evident, with a number of public charge points included betwween 10% and 20% compared to the 3 major European Countries
Norway stands out for being on the cutting edge in the electric mobility matter: in 2017, the new registrations of electric vehicles grazed 40% of the total. In the fiord Country, a particular regulation is in force to boost the purchase of electric cars: besides direct incentives, like the 25% reduction of VAT at the purchase time, and indirect ones, such as the free access, or at lower price, to parks and ferries, they have also applied the “polluter pays” principle. It is a disincentive to the purchase of conventional vehicles, precisely a sort of “polluter pays”, which results in higher yearly circulation taxes for more polluting vehicles. Thanks to such provision, in synergy with the farsighted policy of recharge infrastructures that aimed at installing 2 recharge stations every 50 km on any main road within 2017, Norway has been acknowledged as model worth following for its excellence transition towards the electric mobility.

Let us see anyway the data already registered: in the first semester of 2018, almost as many electric cars as in the entire previous year were registered, and the same “doubling” was scored between 2017 and 2016. However, the Italian market’s size is small if compared with the global and the European market. In 2017, 4,827 electric cars were sold, 0.24% of overall registrations, thus achieving an approximate total of 13,000 units circulating in Italy at the end of the last year.

Out of 4,827 electric cars, 1,964 are full-electric, rising by almost 40% versus 2016. The remaining 2,863 are instead PHEV, 2.5 times compared to the registrations in 2016, surpassing BEV for the first time. In the first half of 2018, 4,129 electric cars were registered, +89% versus the same 2017 period and a number that approaches the entire year just past.

Europe registrations
In European ambit, the first market is indisputably Norway, with 62,000 vehicles sold, Germany ranks second, with almost 55,000 registrations, followed by United Kingdom and France

«The e-mobility in Italy – specified Vittorio Chiesa – is not a market where the growth is missing. Certainly, absolute numbers are still small, slightly above the 4,000 vehicles in the last semester and also in relation to what is happening in the other big European Countries. The sensation we can perceive among sector players, however, is that the electric mobility is anything but an elitist fashion for lovers of sustainability and technology but it is instead becoming a fundamental component of the way of devising the transports of the future».

In the market of electric cars in Italy, the technological maturity is the reference indicator that shows fewer criticalities, the regulatory maturity is instead the area with more gaps. Incentives, if well proportioned, can act as enhancing instrument of the market competition whereas today in Italy they just regard the exemption of the road tax and the access to restricted traffic areas, with purchase incentives delivered on a regional scale only.


At the end of 2017, in Italy it is possible to estimate about 2,750 public compliant recharge stations, grown in the course of the last year by around 750 units. This has resulted in the growth of the last years, drastically reversing a trend that instead had made the recharge units essentially stable from 2012 to 2014.

Moreover, it is worth pointing out a great ferment regarding new installations in the course of 2018, with partial data that indicate an even stronger growth than last year.

Detail of electric car sales in Italy
In Italy, in 2017, 4,827 electric cars were sold, 0.24% of overall registrations, thus achieving slightly less than 13,000 units in all circulating in Italy at the end of the last year

It is worth underlining a strong unbalance of the geographical distribution of recharge units: there is a relevant shortage in the South whereas Centre and North are more advanced but with even remarkable differences among the various Regions.

If we make a comparison between the recharge infrastructures in Italy and the rest of the Old Continent, the existing gap is evident, with a number of public charge points included between 10% and 20% compared to the 3 major European Countries: a litmus paper of the size of the electric vehicle market.

Advanced mobility services

ZF Car-eWallet

ZF has established Car eWallet GmbH, a start-up headquartered in Berlin that will be entrusted by the Germany company with Car eWallet service activities, permitting to pay for the refuelling, for recharging electric cars or also for tolls, parking and car sharing. The project involved then the temporary collaboration between ZF and IBM and UBS partners, positively ending last Spring. Now, the target is further developing and marketing the service: in an initial financial phase, ZF will give the start-up the starting capital; in the future, investors will have to grant funds. «In this way – explained Alexander Graf from ZF Friedrichshafen AG, one of the first creators of Car eWallet and today project manager – we can exploit the dynamism of the scenarios where start-ups operate, where several innovative approaches can be developed more freely and quickly compared to what happens in a corporate structure».

DC Motors: the global value for 2020 is espected to be 130 billion dollars

An electric motor, highly simplifying, converts electric energy into mechanical energy and this occurs through two interacting magnetic fields, one stationary and the other integral with a moving part. The origins of electric motors date back to a distant past, if we remember the base principles of electromagnetic induction were discovered in the early years of 1800 by Oersted, Gauss and Faraday, in 1820 Oersted and Ampere demonstrated that an electric current produces a magnetic field and, according to the historiography on the matter, the first real rotary engine was created in 1834 by Moritz von Jacobi. Today electric motors are a technologically advanced reality, available in manifold typologies, with a global market value that for 2020 is expected to approach 130 billion dollars,
then almost 110 billion Euros at the current exchange rate. Considering a basic subdivision, they are split into AC motors and DC motors, and both these categories provide then for other detail subdivisions. AC motors, for instance, are developed into synchronous, asynchronous or induction, single-phase or three-phase. In the first case, the rotor rotation is synchronized with the frequency of the power supply current and the speed remains constant if the load varies; ideal for moving a load at constant speed, they are used for high-precision positioning.

In the second typology, the electromagnetic induction from the magnetic field of stator windings is used to produce an electric current in the rotor, and then torque; single-phase motors are generally adopted for small loads whereas three-phase ones have their use context in industrial ambit, for instance for compressors, pumps, conveyors and lifting systems. DC motors, the first broadly used also due to the user-friendly speed control by varying the power supply voltage, provide for two main branches: Brushed, or Brush, with brushes, and Brushless, without brushes. Traditionally, the subdivision is done by power: 0-750 Watt (with the major market share), 750 Watt-3kW, 3kW-75kW, and above 75kW. Concerning the global size of this market, the data that can be inferred from some of the most in-depth researches on DC motors are quite differing, especially if projections are on the long-term; they report for instance 35 billion dollars within 2025 (reference: Grand View Research, Inc), and highlight that the growth of the DC motor market will be mainly driven by the Automotive ambit. The sales of Brushless motors are prevailing in comparison with Brushed, and already in 2016 they held the highest market share. Still according to projections, they indicate for Brushed a growth with CAGR (Compounded Average Growth Rate) by around 3% from now until 2025, which becomes by 4% for Brushless.

DC Brushed motors

Following an approach of scholastic type, a typical DC brushed motor includes a rotary armor, or rotor, which contains windings of wires insulated and wound around a weak iron core, and a stationary stator that encloses the rotor and contains electromagnets or permanent magnets that generate the magnetic field. The windings, which form one or more coils, are electrically connected with the commutator, a cylinder consisting of various metal contact segments around the armor bar. Brushes are electric contacts made with soft material, typically graphite, in contact with the segments of the commutator when the bar rotates. If we apply a DC power source to brushes, the coils of the armor are energized, creating an electromagnet that is set in rotation, with its north and south poles aligned with stator ones; with the rotation, it is determined an inversion of the energy polarity in the armor coils and of the direction of the relative magnetic field; the armor rotates towards the new alignment, the current is inverted again and the armor goes on rotating. This inversion is commonly identified by the term of “mechanical switchover”. Acting on the arrangement of windings, different typologies of DC Brushed motors have been implemented. In a motor with winding in derivation, where field coils of stator and rotor are connected in parallel, the operation is at constant speed, irrespective of the load. In the case of winding in series (two coils wound in series), the speed varies with the load and it increases when the latter decreases, but making high start torque available.

The characteristics of both previous typologies are achieved with a composite winding, combination of the motors with winding in derivation and in series, typically used when complex start conditions occur and when a constant speed is required. Separate excitation motors, with separate feeders for stator and rotor, hence with high field current for the stator and sufficient voltage for the armor to produce the necessary torque current for the rotor, find application when low speeds but high torque capacities are needed. A further typology is with permanent magnets in the stator, thus annulling the need of an external field current: the design is more compact and lighter and the energy efficiency is higher in comparison with other DC Brushed. The control of a DC brushed motor is essentially simple because the switchover is mechanically executed. In a constant-speed motor, for instance, just a DC voltage and an on/off switch are necessary while the speed can be modified by varying the voltage. If a more sophisticated control is needed, specific circuits, widely available and well consolidated, are adopted while a PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation) signal is used for the speed control: the motor winding operates as low-pass filter, so that high-frequency PWM waveforms generate a stable current in the motor winding. For more precise regulations, it is possible to integrate a speed sensor, for instance a Hall-effect sensor or an optical encoder, thus creating a closed loop. In short, DC Brushed motors are inexpensive, reliable and with a high torque/inertia ratio but they have the problem of brushes that tend to wear in time, hence the need of periodical maintenance, for replacement or cleaning. Worth considering other limits, too: if the motor has big power, other problems of heat disposal arouse because windings heat up by Joule effect; windings make the rotor heavier, from which the rise of the moment of inertia derives; besides, if the motor must provide a fast and precise response, as required in industrial automation and in robotics, the control becomes more complex; electromagnetic interferences are generated in the arc of brushes because between them and the collector, in switchover times, there are opening transients of inductive windings and then flashing, which can be anyway attenuated by various devices. (A.C.)

Another piece of the GROB puzzle

The development of GROB is unstoppable. The German company continues to expand itself in Italy too, in order to complete its European presence and focus increasingly on the production of electric motors.

Top player in the design and construction of high-efficiency machining centres and production lines, the family-run company GROB – now in its third generation – is investing resources in the Italian territory, and last 12th march it has inaugurated the construction of a new plant in Pianezza, close to Turin. We were present at the ceremony for laying the foundation stone. The inauguration of the construction took place in the presence of the German management board of GROB, Christian Grob and German Wankmiller, the CEOs of GROB Italy, Mauro Marzolla and Marco Debilio, the mayor of the municipality of Pianezza and the main exponents of the local industrial fabric.

From left to right: German Wankmiller, Margherita Marzolla, Christian Grob and Antonio Castello, mayor of the municipality of Pianezza (TO)
The company

Let’s take a step back. In 2017, the machine tool manufacturer GROB acquired DMG meccanica, an Italian manufacturer of machines for the production of stators for alternators and electric motors. This strategy underlines the willingness of the German player to focus more on the e-mobility sector and to establish itself as a manufacturer of electric motor components.
Today GROB has a total of 6,900 employees and a turnover of 1.5 billion euros, fifteen branches around the world, five production plants in Germany, the United States, China, Brazil and Italy, in Buttigliera Alta (current headquarters of the former DMG meccanica).
“With this establishment” – Christian Grob said, – “we add another piece to our puzzle. We want to strengthen our presence in the electric vehicle sector, engaging even more in research and development of technologies for the electromobility sector. We are also investing in this new Turin headquarters with the aim of bringing together the entire production circuit, from the idea to the realization.”

The foundation stone of the new Italian plant of GROB
The factory

Today, the plant located in Buttigliera Alta is no longer able to cope with the higher productivity required by the development of the business, increasingly projected to automatic lines for the production of electric motors. The new Pianezza site will be ready in about 14 months, starting at full capacity in the summer of next year.
“The transfer of the GROB Italy plant from Buttigliera Alta to Pianezza,” – explained Margherita Marzolla, – “is part of a multi-year development plan, intending to make Pianezza a reference point in the design and construction of special machines and automation solutions aimed at creating electric motors.”
The new plant in Pianezza will be a highly functional centre, distributed on a total area of 24,000 m² of whit 4,800 m² of production area and 3,300 m² of offices and services. The goal is to understand the entire production circuit, from conception of the idea to its practical construction, and the economic investment allocated to date is about ten million euros.
This is good news for local employment: the current GROB Italy workforce includes about 60 employees, but an increase of around 40-50 new jobs is expected in the first phase. Internal training courses will therefore be activated, which, in collaboration with a vast network of local excellence in education, will provide young people with a specific technical preparation.

Components. Driving sector of industrial growth


The new mobility paradigms impose to this sector and to the component one to invest in the research of green automated solutions connected with the telematics infrastructure network.
It is a dynamic and lively market, with a strong propensity for innovation. This is the picture outlined by the last edition of the Observatory on Italian components, the survey carried out by Turin Trade Chamber, by ANFIA and by CAMI Centre of Ca’ Foscari University in Venice. «In 2016, this sector achieved a turnover of 40 billion Euros, growing by 4.3% compared to the previous year.

Observatory on Italian components.
Observatory on Italian components.

The export is worth 20 billion Euros and the main destination areas of Italian components are Europe and United States – affirmed Vincenzo Ilotte, President of the Trade Chamber of Turin during the press conference on the Observatory –Besides, the automotive world is in constant evolution: ten years ago, we imagined a market characterized by low-cost vehicles.
Today reality is different: companies invest in the autonomous drive, in materials, in infomobility and entertainment. It is a field driven by continuous technological transformations».

The automotive industry trend in the world

In 2016, 95 million vehicles were produced on a global scale, 22 millions more than in 2007: about half of them were sold in Asia, 23% in Europe and 19% in the NAFTA Area.
«The data on the 2017-trend show in the first semester a world-scale growth in the production of vehicles by 2.4%, amounting to 45.8 millions, with the 1.8% reduction in Europe and the 4.4% increment in Italy (576,000 units) – underlined Giuseppe Barile, President of ANFIA Component Group – In Italy, where the production of the automotive sector production grew by 7% in 2016, against the +1.7% of the overall industrial production, and the 1.1 million vehicles produced make us rank as the sixth manufacturing Country in EU. Components provide an important contribution also to the trade balance, maintaining a trade surplus for over 20 years, corresponding to 5.5 billion euros in 2016 (+0.3%) and around 3 billions in the first 2017 semester, as confirmation of the consolidated international success». The new trends that characterize the sector, such as the environmental sustainability, will exert an impact on enterprises’ working and business modalities.
«Our chain must react and achieve the suitable structure for increasing the competitiveness level through the investments in product and process innovation – added Barile – Concerning this, according to a recent survey, 46% of Italian companies have started projects connected with Industry 4.0 and 29% of them undertook all that already two years ago».
Observatory on Italian components. Since 2007 until now, the world demand for vehicles, risen by over 30%, has enormously changed: industrialized and “motorized” Countries, historically production areas, have witnessed the decrease of the weight of their markets from 57% to 44%, whereas BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China), whose demand has grown by 118% versus 2007, have reached 37% of word sales (it was 23%). In the first 2017 semester, the global demand for vehicles reached 47 million units (+2.6%). In Europe, sales rise by 4.1% also thanks to Russia, which scores +7% after years of consecutive drops. In the same year, in Italy registrations grow by 9%, whereas the year-end forecasts expect 1.98 million registrations approximately (+8%).
The world vehicle production, supported by the positive demand trend, in 2016 scored over 95 million units, with +4.7% versus 2015. The world productive increment was by over 4.2 million vehicles, of which 3.5 produced in China.
In Italy, both the internal demand and the export have led to over 1.1 million units produced in 2016 (+9%). Compared to 2007, the world production registers, as for registrations, the 30% rise. In the first 2017 semester, according to the estimates by Ward’s Automotive Reports, the production scores the +2.4% growth and for Italy by 4.4%. In 2017, the world production of vehicles is expected to confirm the trend, exceeding 2016 volumes. In Italy the growth is going on, too, having closed the 1st semester 2017 at +7.3 (ISTAT data). In 2016, 54% of vehicles were manufactured in Asia-Oceania, 23% in Europe and 19% in Nafta area, 4% in the rest of the world.
China is the first producer nation in the world, with 30% of the world production, followed by USA (13%) and Japan (10%).

The chain structure

The automotive component world is constantly evolving: to take the chain complexity into account, intercepting all the categories of suppliers involved, the investigation has included in its observation range also activities like specialists in telematics and infomobility, motorsport and aftermarket.
Observatory on Italian components.According to this logic, among automotive component enterprises, we can distinguish: system integrators and module suppliers, at the top of the supply chain with factories located closed to manufacturer’s plants, which implement functional systems or modules, with a high competence level; specialists, producers of parts and components, with such a content of innovation and specificity as to constitute a competitive edge, encompassing also the category of telematics specialists that work at applications connected with infomobility; motorsport specialists that, starting from the fitting out of cars for sports competitions, design and manufacture components (seats, steering wheels and safety belts) or supply solutions adopted for mass productions, too; aftermarket specialists, which implement parts and components directly sold on the market through a distribution network or consortia of spare part suppliers.
They can have supply relationships with automotive industries but there are also aftermarket divisions of the same multinationals. Besides subcontractors, which produce standard parts and components according to the specifications supplied by customers and easily repeated by competitors, and in whose category we can identify the companies that execute mechanical machining such as turning, milling, rolling, stamping or treatments (thermal, painting etc.), the chain is completed by engineering and design activities, protagonists in the devising and design of a car, particularly numerous in Piedmont (55% of the Italian total), which supply services directly to assembling companies or Tier 1 suppliers.

The Observatory’s results

The survey, presented by Barbara Barazza, Manager of the Study, Statistics and Price Sector of Turin Trade Chamber, has highlighted that in 2016 all component manufacturers scored good performances: among suppliers, the most dynamic are the specialists in motorsport (+9.5% at Italian level), subcontractors (machining) (+9.4%), E&D (+7.8%) and system/ module providers (+5.6%).
In Italy, over 76% of enterprises declare they export: the percentage has grown by one point in the last year (it was 75%). On the whole, 39% of the overall automotive turnover derives from export. EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) is the main addressee of the Italian export, mentioned by 86% of enterprises but the first 5 markets are all in Europe (Germany, France, Poland, Spain and United Kingdom).
Observatory on Italian components.
A sound component industry, thanks to export, geographical and productive diversification and enlargement of destination markets, succeeds in maintaining a high saturation level of the productive capacity, which in 2016 reached the 78% average. The percentage of enterprises that have declared a plant saturation percentage exceeding 80% has grown from 51% in 2015 to over 61% in 2016 and has indistinctively concerned all productive segments of the chain.
Sector players look optimistically at the future: for the current year, expectations not only maintain a positive sign but consolidate in comparison with the previous year: 87% of operators declare their optimism (80% in 2015) and confidence pervades all clusters, with particularly rosy forecasts for module and system providers (91% with growth estimates), specialists and E&D (89%) and the aftermarket (80%). Green, new materials, infomobility, autonomous drive, electric and hybrid motors represent the new directions in the process of transformation of automotive induced activities, like the cost reduction and the process reorganization. Finally, 71% of the sample declare they invest part of their turnover in research and development activities that are prevailingly carried out “in house”.

The round table

The last part of the press conference on the Observatory was dedicated to a discussion, chaired by Francesco Zirpoli, Center for Automotive and Mobility Innovation, Ca’ Foscari University, on the opportunities and the challenges for the Italian component chain.
«The Italian automotive supply chain is living a time of growth and development. However, the mobility world is changing. The Italian component industry will be able to constitute the backbone on which to base the mobility future in Italy if it succeeds in reversing the trend involving lower investments than international competitors in research and development and scarce networking to gain access to new technological competences.
Observatory on Italian components. As far as the overall Italian situation is concerned, the challenge to be won is maintaining in Italy the design and the production of vehicles, systems and modules with high technological complexity. This requires a trend inversion in innovation investments that currently position Italy in a disadvantaged situation compared to Countries with a similar industrial tradition». Massimo Mucchetti, President of Senate Industry, Trade and Tourism Commission highlighted that in Italy, in industrial ambit, components are becoming more and more important than the implementation of the finished product but it is necessary to invest to be in the technological forefront.
Giorgio Elefante
, Automotive Sector Leader Italy Price Waterhouse Coopers was then called upon to speak: «There are some key points for the business management: the awareness of challenges, the conscious determination of strategies, the individual and collective professional force and institutions’ support. We need clear rules supporting innovation. The automotive sector is driven by some big changes that will exert an impact on mobility, such as demographic trends and urbanization, the geo-political scenario characterized by a rising climate of protectionism, climatic changes and the shortage of resources, the technological evolution of products and services. Finally, internationalization plays a determinant role and it is necessary to support those enterprises that invest in research and development centres so that they can create sustainable value».
Vincenzo Ilotte, General Manager 2A Spa highlighted the great flexibility of the net in our entrepreneurial fabric and how this element can represent a point of attraction. In the opinion of Giuseppe Barile it is necessary to focus on research and development. Ezio Fossati, ZF Senior Vice President FCA & CNH Global Sales Division A has reconfirmed that it is essential to create an eco-system of collaborations: «Technologies evolve so quickly that no company can have all competences in its inside» (Elena Ferrero).

More than 1.6 million vehicles are likely to be sold

Frost & Sullivan’s “Global Electric Vehicle Market Outlook, 2018”

According to Frost & Sullivan’s recently released “Global Electric Vehicle Market Outlook, 2018”, the electric vehicle market reached the 1.2-million sales mark for the first time, with more than 165 models available for sale. China is leading the market with 48% market share followed by Europe with 26%.

Solid-state batteries

Solid-state batteries are likely to be the “game changers” of future battery chemistries, as they render 2.5 times higher density than lithium-ion. In the last 6 months, more than 10 automakers have announced future electric vehicle launch plans. Based on the announcements, electric vehicle now have a market potential of about 25 million units that will be sold by 2025; more than 400 models will be made available.

Frost & Sullivan’s “Global Electric Vehicle Market Outlook, 2018”
Frost & Sullivan’s “Global Electric Vehicle Market Outlook, 2018”

The Tesla Gigafactory is currently 35% operational and aims to produce 50 GWh of batteries in 2018. On full capacity, it will manufacture 150 GWh which will power an equivalent of 1.5 million vehicles with a 100 kWh battery capacity. Toyota, Fisker and BMW are likely to be the first automakers to adopt the battery in its electric vehicles by 2023.

Charging infrastructures

The electric vehicle charging infrastructure challenge has not yet been addressed, as there is a need for more charging stations globally.

Frost & Sullivan’s “Global Electric Vehicle Market Outlook, 2018”
Frost & Sullivan’s “Global Electric Vehicle Market Outlook, 2018”

Currently, the density of charging stations is high in limited areas or regions where an electric vehicle sale is highest.

Costs and market 

Electric vehicles are likely to cost the same as conventional cars by 2020 which will be a huge threat to the conventional car industry. The EV industry will no longer require financial support from the government to regularise the price of an Electric vehicle in the form of cash incentives.

Logistics companies, such as DHL, DPD, TNT, etc., are switching to a 100% electric fleet by replacing current conventional vehicles with electric vehicles that are equally competent and a perfect fit for the business model. OEMs are shifting to 100% electric vans by 2020. 11 OEMs have announced electric vehicle milestones and targets.

Frost & Sullivan’s “Global Electric Vehicle Market Outlook, 2018”
Frost & Sullivan’s “Global Electric Vehicle Market Outlook, 2018”

If all the announcements made so far were to come true, there will be about 25 million electric vehicles sold by 2025 or 20% of all cars sold would be EVs.

Energy and petrochemical companies have started investing heavily in establishing electric vehicle charging stations, as they are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries of the electric vehicle market. Shell acquired the largest infrastructure operator “The New Motion” in the Netherlands which owns a network of 30,000 charging stations.