Charging into an electrified future

Planning for new markets is never easy. That’s going to be especially true for those who must determine whether or not they’ll jump on the green bandwagon and get involved in building the infrastructure for electric vehicles.

EV charging stations need a lot of complex electronics that operate in harsh outdoor environments. Power management, communication to utility companies and billing transactions must all be installed in units that sit in parking lots 365 days a year.

Some people say building this charging infrastructure  will be a multi-billion dollar expenditure over the next several years. The U.S. government is throwing a lot of money at this emerging area, and General Electric is one of many companies that’s betting big on the market. The planners at GE note that they don’t make big investments in markets that don’t promise high growth.

But to date, electric vehicles aren’t selling beyond a few people who are charging them at home for driving 30 miles per day or less. Battery makers from around the globe are very clear that they think it will be a few years before batteries can compete with internal combustion engines for more realistic driving scenarios.

EMS suppliers and circuit board fabricators will have to make some big guesses if they think it’s worth jumping on this segment of the environmental bandwagon. There’s plenty of money flowing now in the early stages, but anyone who ramps up may want to think about having an alternative run for a their new production line.

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