Electric Car Companies Use Partnerships to Boost Success

Electric Car Companies Use Partnerships to Boost Success

Developing the electric car, bringing it to market and having it succeed are huge feats. To overcome design and infrastructure hurdles, many automakers are partnering with other organizations. Such collaborations can reduce risk, boost success and speed up the development process for all involved.
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Let's examine some of these partnerships:

Ford Motor Company and Magna International Inc.

By creating a strategic partnership with Magna International Inc., Ford accelerated plans to bring an electric car to the market. Although Ford does not possess exclusive rights to the technology, this approach reduced risk and cost. Magna and Ford built a prototype using the compact model of the Ford Focus.

"We strongly believe in collaboration because it drives innovation up and keeps costs down," said Don Walker, co-CEO of Magna International. "Bringing a fully functional electric vehicle quickly to the market that meets customer expectations in terms of cost and performance is a great testament to both our companies' expertise and collaborative efforts."

This all-electric vehicle is expected to drive 100 miles on a charge and does not contain a gas generator to extend the range. Magna will manufacture the electric motor and other major components. Starting in 2011, Ford plans to manufacture 5,000 to 10,000 electric cars annually. Ford has also teamed up with Britain's Smith Electric Vehicles to produce a commercial electric truck for the U.S. market.

Proton Holdings and Detroit Electric 

This partnership between the Malaysian automaker and the Dutch auto company once favored by Thomas Edison has the goal to start production in early 2010 and ramp-up production to 270,000 cars by 2013. This quantity is quite large, compared to plans from other companies for electric car production

"Today's agreement with Proton will put Detroit Electric on the fast track to bring a full line of innovative, practical and affordable pure electric vehicles to the global market," Albert Lam, Detroit Electric's chairman and chief executive, said in a recent statement.

This sedan should hit the European market in 2010 and the US market in 2011 and will cost between $23,000 and $33,000. The smaller version has a range of 110 miles per charge, while the larger version's range is 200 miles.

Nissan and Renault 

This French-Japanese alliance plans to start selling its electric vehicle in 2011 in China before it markets the cars globally. They have also created a partnership with the Chinese government, where they will roll out the electric vehicle in 13 cities and assist with creating a charging infrastructure. Nissan has been working with state and city governments and charging station maker ECOtotality to create an electric vehicle corridor in the U.S. In Israel, Nissan is working with Better Place to create charging stations across the country.

"Nissan believes that zero emissions are the ultimate direction for alternative energy vehicles," says Toshiyuki Shiga, chief operating officer of Nissan in a news release. "We are establishing innovative partnerships with governments, cities and agencies to promote EVs worldwide, and in China we will work closely with our local partners to develop the EV market."

General Motors Corporation

The highly anticipated Chevy Volt was developed in-house. The $750 million GM invested in developing the Volt may not payoff immediately, but may earn the company considerable prestige.

The car has an all-electric range of 40 miles. A gas generator produces electricity and extends the range of the vehicle by an additional 300 miles. The Volt should be ready in late 2010 and may be capped at 10,000 vehicles in the first year. Thereafter, production will be ramped up to 100,000 or whatever the market can support.

The Volt has officially partnered with Goodyear Tires to reduce rolling resistance and boost energy efficiency. Compared to the depth of the other partnerships for producing electric cars, GM is essentially flying solo with the Volt. The gas generator however makes Volt owners less reliant on electric vehicle infrastructure, thus partnerships in this area are less vital.

Image courtesy of Ford.