Roy Schulde, President of the company’s new North American subsidiary AKASOL Inc., is visiting Battery Show Europe for the first time. We asked him why he’s flying all the way from Detroit to attend, ahead of representing AKASOL at Battery Show North America later this year.
Battery Show Europe is Europe's largest showcase of advanced battery and H/EV technology. At this year’s event, which opens its doors in Stuttgart from May 7-9, AKASOL will showcase advances in its wide portfolio of lithium-ion battery systems, including its new flagship product the High Energy Battery AKASystem AKM CYC.
1. Why are you attending Battery Show Europe 2019?
I’m primarily here to meet with European customers that we will support in North America. Meetings are also scheduled with potential suppliers, as we need to develop a local supply chain in North America. Additionally, I will use the opportunity to prepare for our first exhibition in the USA at Battery Show North America taking place in Novi, Michigan in September this year.
2. Why is AKASOL exhibiting at both the Battery Show in Europe and North America this year?
Both events give us the opportunity to inform both current and potential customers of the latest developments with our battery systems. Now that we’re setting up operations in the USA we wanted to be present at relevant trade fairs there as well.
3. What is the commercial vehicle electrification potential in North America
North America is behind other areas of the world in the adoption of electric technology, though that adoption rate is increasing across all types of commercial vehicles. I just returned from the ACT Expo in Long Beach, California, where clear statements were made by North American OEMs that the future revolves around battery electric and hydrogen electric vehicles. For example, in Canada we’re currently equipping underground mining vehicles for Medatech. The market is developing rapidly, the necessary infrastructure is becoming more available and costs are becoming competitive with combustion engine equivalents. Additionally, regulations and environmental considerations are also positively impacting the adoption of electric commercial vehicles.
4. What are the challenges for AKASOL in the North American market
There are several. We need to establish a new manufacturing facility, build the team to support our growth in USA and develop a local supply chain. We are in the final phase of our site selection process, where we plan to start the production of battery systems for local customers early next year.
While a large-volume framework agreement with a leading commercial vehicle manufacturer is in place in the USA, we are also accelerating our business development activities with new North American customers. We plan to install a production capacity of 400 MWh per year. One third of the battery systems manufactured will be produced for existing customers, the rest will be available for new customers.
5. What will AKASOL bring to the North American market?
AKASOL is focused on the commercial vehicles market. In the on-highway sector, we supply manufacturers of hybrid and fully electric buses and commercial vehicles. Meanwhile, in the off-highway segment we’re concentrating on battery systems and services for manufacturers of rail vehicles, construction, mining and logistics vehicles, and ships. Adoption of electric solutions in those markets is accelerating. One of the factors that halts more rapid adoption is the complexity of this technology. The level of expertise and development required to develop safe and high-performance systems can’t be underestimated.
Commercial vehicles also have stringent demands on energy, performance and durability that don’t compare to those of electric cars. Our 25 years’ experience in electromobility and 10 years’ experience in the development and manufacturing of commercial vehicle battery systems gives us a competitive edge, as our battery systems offer a very high degree of product maturity. Our experts in drive technology, mechatronics, electronics, software and cell chemistry are able to develop solutions that solve even the most complex challenges our customers face.
Another important factor behind our success is our technology-agnostic product portfolio. This allows us to deliver tailor-made solutions using the most innovative battery cells with the best battery chemistry for the respective applications, at competitive prices.