I am taking custody of a Chevy Volt electric car Wednesday, and I can't wait to take it out for a spin. Brian Fuller, editorial director for EE Times' EE Life engineering community, will hand off the vehicle to me in Philadelphia, and my charter is to deliver it undented and unscratched to Boston in time for the Fall Embedded Systems Conference.
Avnet Inc. (NYSE: AVT), one of the biggest global electronics component distributors and IT services companies, is a co-sponsor with UBM Electronics of the Drive for Innovation program, which gave birth to the idea of a cross-country test of the Volt. Fuller, whose passion for baseball is matched only by his wit and devotion to electronics, has been on the road with the Volt for a few weeks. The trip has taken him from San Francisco to numerous American cities, including Chicago, Phoenix, St. Louis, Dearborn, Mich., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Elkhart Lake, Wis., and Richfield, Ohio.
Since embarking on the trip, Brian has been asked, "Why are you driving a Chevy Volt around the country, in the summer and then into the fall and winter, when you have a job, when you have a family?" Check out his answer here. My favorite question asked by anyone ahead of Brian's departure was "Why aren't you leaving sooner?" That was from his wife!
See more reports from Fuller's experience on the road and contributions from industry executives he has methere.
Jests aside (your wife's question was a joke, right, Brian?), I can't wait to take over the Volt temporarily from Fuller. EBN has written in the past about electric and hybrid vehicles, focusing on the utility, the competition, and the varied technologies being deployed by manufacturers. We have also focused on the opportunities the renewed interest in electric and hybrid vehicles has created for companies in the IT and electronics industries. (See: Nissan Leaf vs. Chevy Volt vs. Toyota Prius, Part 3.)
There are numerous sales opportunities here for component vendors, as well as system integrators. The parts and subsystems that go into electric and hybrid vehicles include semiconductors, processors, software, and passive components such as capacitors, resistors, relays, sensors, and connectors. Power products are, naturally, quite important to the market. Ron Demcko, applications engineer manager at AVX Corp. (NYSE: AVX) and a frequent blogger on EBN, explained in his blog how manufacturers are driving innovation in the capacitor products offered to automotive makers. (See: Plug-In Chargers: Implications for Capacitors.) Chip vendors have been quick to get on board, especially suppliers to the automotive market like Freescale Semiconductor, NXP, and Renesas. Many of these companies have products in hybrid and electric vehicles.
Come on the road with me over the next few days in the Volt. I will be sharing my experience in this blog, but more information is available at Drive for Innovation.