It's a great time for companies in the auto industry to reinvent themselves. In fact, it's imperative to change or miss out on a changing auto marketplace.
Plastics News reporter Sarah Kominek profiles some of those sweeping changes taking place as companies do their best to adapt to a future of electric vehicles and the potential growth of autonomous vehicles. (Watch for those stories to be posted throughout this week at plasticsnews.com.) A company like Magna International Inc. appears to be in a good position, with business exposure in lighting, mirrors, sensors and exterior body panels all having a part to play in future cars.
Other companies' paths may not be as clear, though. Consider Eaton Corp. The company began as a supplier of gears, brakes and other hard metal parts used in a car's powertrain and driving systems. It has had plastics for some time, producing hoses, seals and other under-the-hood components, and it is now working to develop functional parts for electric vehicles that will slide into a manufacturing footprint developed for internal combustion engines.
A small pressure relief valve being developed to halt overheating in battery enclosures is one example.
"We have a lot of experience producing similar parts, taking over the capability from vent valves from fuel tanks. … We have manufacturing lines we can use; we have the testing principles," Jens Buhlinger, sales growth manager at Eaton, told Sarah for a story in this week's print issue of Plastics News.
"It is a bit different in terms of size and flow of gas, but we will be able to transfer parts of the manufacturing line and will use some of the machines that we're using to assemble fuel venting valves to do battery venting."