As the world increasingly shifts towards sustainable energy solutions, the electric vehicle (EV) industry is booming. One person at the forefront of this exciting industry is David Crowther, the Director of New Product Development at Gates Corporation, who has been working in the EV sector for many years. His expertise in the field has allowed him to witness firsthand the growth and evolution of EV technology, and his insights are invaluable for anyone interested in learning more about this exciting and rapidly changing field. In this client spotlight interview, we'll dive deep into David's experiences and thoughts on the future of EVs and explore the trends driving this industry forward.
Hi David, please Introduce yourself.
My Name is David Crowther and I was born and educated in France. My Father was an American Citizen, so I hold dual citizenship. I came to the US over 30 years ago after completing a PhD in Physics, to join a post-doctoral research position at Wayne State University and I have been living in Michigan ever since.
What infrastructure and resources are required to support the manufacturing of electrical components?
From an engineering point of view, we need an E-mag engineer with CAE modeling expertise and capability, ME design engineers, electrical engineers to support the controls aspect of the device and most likely software engineers. A solid testing and validation capability is required to confirm the design meets the requirements. Then assembly capability to build the units. Depending on volume this can be mostly manual to fully automated.
As gas prices continue to rise, we are seeing more and more electric/hybrid vehicles on the streets. What impact do you think oil prices will have on the electric vehicle industry?
I believe that the price of gas has a definite impact on how attractive EV cars are to the public and thus the interest shown by the industry. I think it’s pretty clear that EVs are now becoming mainstream thus creating the demand to the OEMs for such vehicles.
What are some trends that you are seeing in the EV industry?
Customer experience, automation, connectivity… more and more cars are transforming into data hubs, used for improving safety, driving experience, and ease of navigation.
Will technology developments, such as solid-state battery advancements, become key enablers of mass adoption because of the resulting significant increase in battery range and reduction in charging time?
Range and charging infrastructure are two of the most important factors. These two factors go hand in hand. Range is important because the charging infrastructure is still in its infancy, so on-board range is important today. At the same time, if charging stations are as ubiquitous as gas stations are today, the popularity of electric vehicles will be greatly enhanced. Until then, there is a lot of research being done on battery technology to address the need for range.
What are the features on the Electrical Bike that you are working on?
I am developing a new mid-drive motor featuring some proven technology already developed by Gates. But specifically, we are doing a lot of work on the BLDC motor and the torque sensor that is required as part of the pedal assist control strategy.
What are some challenges on the technological development of EVs right now?
While this is a fast-growing market there are already several main providers of ebike motors (Bosch, Brose, Bafang) so we are focusing our initial design on lower cost, low maintenance, and commuter/leisure segment. From that point of view, building a reasonably performant e-bike solution at an attractive cost could be the biggest challenge.
Will the supply of green energy continue to outpace demand for EVs?
Green energy is very much needed for EV’s and beyond. Certainly, the advantage of running a zero-emission car can be reduced by its usage of electricity produced by a high carbon footprint production mean. But it’s clear that the climate change crisis should make it obvious that green energy is needed no matter where its electricity is used.
How do you think EVs are changing the way people get around eventually?
I think it already has. EVs, e-scooters, e-bike are now starting to be ubiquitous in our cities. The change is here to stay. Many companies are working on alternate ways for people to get around, generally based on electric mobility.