Executive Insights

Supplier-OEM Partnerships Are Accelerating EV Innovation

Author: Steven Merkt, President, Transportation Solutions

The investment in battery technology has been the largest purchase order in the history of the automotive industry. But beyond a capital investment, this complex technology has required OEMs to evolve their operations, workforce, and supplier relationships. For all these reasons, it’s imperative that OEMs get electrification right.

 

Today, that’s harder than ever. We’re witnessing in real-time the power of the private sector catalyzing an “electrification” race for consumer and commercial vehicles. The acceleration of government regulations and consumer adoption means that OEMs worldwide must prioritize launching competitive EVs into the market under a new accelerated timeline of EV adoption. New vehicles must go to market flawlessly and on shorter timelines than the industry initially projected. OEMs must be prepared not just with the right technology, but with the right expertise to help make their visions a reality.

 

At TE Connectivity, we’ve prepared for decades for this paradigm shift to arrive. In my role as President of Transportation Solutions, I’ve witnessed how electrification has become a fundamental market disruptor. It’s no longer a “nice-to-have,” but a necessity for OEMs looking to remain competitive and go to market with custom in-vehicle solutions, safer cars, and more efficient charging architectures. The moment is now. And the manufacturers finding the most success are those working in close partnership with expert, global component suppliers.

To enable high-voltage connectivity, OEMs don’t simply need hardware, they need to work closely with suppliers who can help them understand and develop more efficient EV architectures – faster, and on the first iteration.

Partnering to Navigate a Dynamic Landscape

As we turned a corner into the 2010s, the voltage capacity of an EV hovered around the standard 120 to 240 volts. But times are changing. TE recently worked with Porsche to enable a roughly fourfold increase in capacity up to 800 volts. Consider that alongside the move toward an industry benchmark of a 10-minute charge, and you’ll realize that battery technology today is significantly more advanced than just a decade ago.

 

Building this technology requires an entirely different set of considerations for OEMs. They need a supply partner with a proven track record and deep expertise to help navigate a changing environment that presents a multitude of technical challenges. In Porsche’s case, we collaborated on solutions within the vehicle’s architecture that enabled them to realize an 80 percent charge in 22 and a half minutes.

 

From charging speed to battery capacity to in-vehicle functionality, the race is on for OEMs. As manufacturers sprint to enable higher-voltage architectures in vehicles – and, by proxy, faster cars with more power that can travel longer distances between charges – the stress placed on connectors will only increase.

 

High-voltage connectivity for electric vehicles presents OEMs with unique challenges that do not exist in traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) architectures. Connectivity solutions are intricate yet powerful pieces of technology, and for many OEMs, the cost relative to the risk of getting it wrong isn’t worth it.

 

These completely new and complex challenges mean that partnering with the right component supplier is paramount. To enable high-voltage connectivity, OEMs don’t simply need hardware, they need to work closely with suppliers who can help them understand and develop more efficient EV architectures – faster, and on the first iteration.

Engineering team designing a connectivity platform for an electric vehicle.
By letting a connection and protection expert like TE handle the high-voltage connectivity, it frees up OEMs to focus on personalizing and innovating other aspects of the vehicle.

Creating Value Across the Chain

One of our foremost advantages at TE is that we partner closely with OEMs and provide open, flexible, and solution-agnostic technology. What this means is that we approach every customer interaction and ambition like a blank sheet of paper. Our solutions provide a well-tested template, but the final creation is borne from close partnership between TE and our customers.

 

Every customer has their own solutions that differentiate their architectures. Unlike other suppliers, TE ensures we do not approach our customers with cookie-cutter solutions, but rather custom ones.

 

Many of the 4,000 engineers with our Transportation Solutions segment work from TE facilities that have been strategically located near our automotive customers, allowing us to remain physically close to them through specialized engineers who embed with their organizations. TE understands both emerging industrywide and customer-specific challenges, and we co-create customized solutions on a platform-by-platform basis within that landscape.

 

For example, our collaboration with BMW supports both product and processes for their new European EV platform. We know that there are much more robust areas for OEMs to customize within the vehicle than connectors. By letting a connection and protection expert like TE handle the high-voltage connectivity, it frees up OEMs to focus on personalizing and innovating other aspects of the vehicle.

What’s more, TE has a long history of helping OEMs, both traditional and new EV players, develop customized solutions for their fast-changing vehicle architecture. That means our solutions have been thought out and developed alongside the vehicle itself and tailor-made for the specific platform in question. The value of TE’s incumbency in the EV market is extremely high and will only continue to grow as more OEMs enter the space.

 

In addition, we are continuing to benefit as we help our customers transition their technologies from luxury EVs – where most technology development is currently occurring – to more everyday mass-production vehicles. Both architectures contain nearly double the connective content than average ICE platforms, representing a significant opportunity for us to guide the next wave of connectivity in automotive.

 

Right now, there is exciting innovation coming from within the EV space. We are uniquely positioned to service customers at different points of evolution and to be a core part of the transformation that’s making the future of automotive safer, more sustainable, and connected. Though the pressure is on for OEMs to go to market with increasingly sophisticated EV solutions faster than ever, TE is here to enable their success.

 

If you are an investor interested in more information about TE Connectivity, please email our Investor Relations team.

About the Author

Steven Merkt, President, Transportation Solutions

Steven Merkt

Steven Merkt is president of the Transportation Solutions segment for TE Connectivity. In this role, he is responsible for all aspects of sales, development and operations for the segment, which includes the following business units: Automotive, Industrial & Commercial Transportation, Sensors, and Application Tooling. Steven has been with TE for more than 30 years and previously served as president of TE’s automotive business. He has also held leadership positions in general management, operations, engineering, marketing, supply chain and new product launches.