Related themes were explored in a special interest program on electrification during the Las Vegas conference. Isaac Chan of Roland Berger, LLC, made the case for accelerated adoption of EVs through ongoing technical developments and the economic effect of autonomous driving and ride sharing. Burak Ozpineci, ORNL, reviewed some of the technology advances that were being pursued in government/industry partnership programs, in particular projects at ORNL related to metals applications.

One of the most topical and relevant subjects was addressed at the POWDERMET 2017 conference in Las Vegas. This was in a Special Interest Program entitled “Developments in Hybrid and Electric Vehicles”. The first speaker was Mr. Isaac Chan, Senior Consultant with Roland Berger LLC, Chicago, IL, on “The Future of Electrification”. He began by saying that the big strategic issues facing the automotive industry were electrification and autonomous driving, which were surprisingly more related than one would think.

Chan admitted there were still a lot of skeptics as well as proponents: from Sergio Marchione (CEO, Fiat Chrysler) at one end, who complained about losing money on every electric car sold, to Elon Musk of Tesla at the other end, grabbing more headlines than anyone else in the industry. So who was right? Chan suggested there was historical data to support both sides of the argument. Despite rapid (∼20%) growth in hybrids and EVs since 2010, they still represented only about 2+% of global volume). Growth even slowed during 2014–2015, possibly due to the fall in oil prices. But Chan submitted that there were five reasons why electrification will be the future and its coming faster than we think.

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