Harness shortage speeds up the end of the era of fuel vehicles?
The outbreak of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has led to insufficient supply of car harnesses, and many car enterprises once stopped production. No one expected that, following the chip, such inconspicuous parts would become the key factor restricting the production capacity of automobile enterprises. It is reported that due to different automobile architectures, the automobile wiring harness used by traditional fuel vehicles needs a large number of cheap labor to produce; However, the production automation of new wire harnesses used in electric vehicles has been continuously improved, and they are more portable and energy-saving. According to a survey released by Reuters recently, the shortage of traditional wire harnesses may prompt some automobile manufacturers to accelerate their switch to electric wire harnesses and transfer some of the wire harness capacity originally belonging to fuel vehicles to electric vehicles, which may accelerate the elimination of fuel vehicles.
1. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine intensifies the bottleneck of harness supply
As Sam Fiolani, Vice President of AutoForecast Solutions Consulting, said, the shortage of automobile wire harnesses has added a new weight to accelerate the industry's transition to electric vehicles.
It is understood that the harness refers to the components that connect the circuit after the contact terminal (connector) made of copper is crimped with the wire and cable, and then the external plastic pressing insulator or external metal shell is used to bind the harness. The wiring harness is equivalent to the central nervous system of the automobile. It is the main network body of the automobile circuit, connecting the electronic and electrical components of the automobile and making them function. At present, there are many kinds of wire harnesses used in automobiles. With the continuous increase of automobile functions and the wide application of electronic control technology, there are not only body harness, door harness, engine harness, chassis harness, seat harness, but also air conditioning harness, sensor harness, lighting harness, camera harness, sunroof harness, etc. From the use category of different models, the automobile harness can be divided into low-voltage harness and high-voltage harness as a whole. Traditional fuel vehicles mainly use low-voltage harness, while electric vehicles mainly use high-voltage harness.
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine pushed the car harness under the "spotlight". Ukraine is an important production base of automobile wire harnesses in the world. According to statistics, more than half of the automobile wire harnesses required by Germany are produced in Ukraine. After the outbreak of the Russian Ukrainian conflict, some European factories of Volkswagen Group, BMW and other car enterprises stopped production because of the interruption of the supply of car harnesses from Ukraine.
Why does a small wire harness cause a car company to stop production? This has a lot to do with the characteristics of the automobile wire harness industry. Different from chips, motors, etc., wire harness has long been a component with low technology and low profits, but it requires a lot of physical labor. The wiring harness used by traditional fuel vehicles is a labor-intensive industry, which is highly dependent on labor in the manufacturing process. Many technological processes need manual operations, such as wrapping adhesive tape, connector terminals, fixing pins, etc. Because of this, most wire harness factories are located in Southeast Asia, Europe, Serbia, Romania, Ukraine and other regions with low labor costs. Ukraine has become the "heart" of European automobile wire harness production.
In addition, with the increase of automobile electronic functions, in order to connect various equipment, the wire harness required by traditional fuel vehicles is getting longer and longer, and the average length of cables bundled with wire harness in each vehicle is up to 5km. Even if the inventory of wire harnesses is high, it cannot withstand such a large consumption. In addition, the circuit schemes and circuit architectures of each car enterprise are different, and the harness is usually customized exclusively, which is not universal. Once the supplier's production is interrupted, it may fall into the "irreplaceable" predicament in a short period of time.
2 、Advancing EV harness production automation
Facing harness shortage, in the short term, car firms and suppliers can solve the crisis by transferring the way of production. For example, some firms start to choose purchasing harnesses from other countries with lower labor costs. According to informants, mycedes Benz was currently purchasing harness bundles from Mexico to temporarily fill the supply gap.
Harness suppliers are also starting to switch lines, some manufacturers are starting to increase capacity in Morocco and others are seeking new lines in countries such as Tunisia, Poland, Serbia and Romania. For example, following the escalation of the situation in owu, Sumitomo electrical workers shifted the harness production from Ukraine to Morocco and Romania; Cyaniday soon announced that it will be in a new harness facility in Morocco and Egypt.
However, in the long run, some car firms want to move away from the "" labor-intensive "" mode of traditional car harness production. NETA candid, CEO of daily production, stated that the Ukrainian crisis, which resulted in a disruption of harness supply chains, would prompt discussion of daily production with its suppliers to discard the use of traditional harness units that require a large inexpensive labor force.
Aldham homark, chief executive at Penny, said brand 2022's motor vehicle production may be reduced by 30% - 40% due to harness shortages. The main reason was that the harness on a penny car consisted of 10 different components from 10 different suppliers in Ukraine, and therefore the search for an alternative was complicated. Homarck revealed that supply problems would make binley more focused on developing an electric vehicle harness operated by a central computer that was simpler in structure and more automated in production. Previously, Bingley has announced full range motorization of brands by 2030.
Such a shift was made by binley because Tesla juyu was already available. The electric vehicle manufacturers, typified by Tesla, use newer generation vehicle harness bundles that can be produced in segments on an automated line and the installation process can replace workers with robots. What's more, the new generation car harness weighs less and lighter quantification is important to lift the continuing range of the electric vehicle. Last year, Tesla announced a new harness patent that combines the wire arrangement design in engineering and the flexible printed circuit (FPC) technology to shorten the otherwise km vehicle harness to 100 m, which is currently applied in the Tesla Model y.
Besides firms, the harness supplier is also trying to make changes. Walter grueck, lead of the harness business at Leni, the global largest vehicle harness manufacturer, said the company is working with the automotive manufacturer to develop new automation solutions for electric vehicle harnesses. Currently, Leni is focusing on the development of sub regional or modular harness bundles which will be divided into six to eight sections of greatly reduced length which will help reduce the complexity of the production and enable automated assembly. "" updates in design will bring about a change in mode of production, and modular harnesses will dramatically reduce vehicle assembly time, "" he said.
3、 Loss of competitiveness of traditional fuel vehicle wiring harness
Unlike developing the next generation of wiring harnesses for electric vehicles, host factories and suppliers do not seem very interested in improving existing fuel vehicle wiring harnesses. Just as many car companies have announced that they will no longer develop new internal combustion engines, they are no longer willing to waste time and money updating traditional car wiring harnesses dramatically. In major markets such as China and Europe, with tightening emission regulations, market space for fuel vehicles has been gradually compressed, and many vehicle companies have formulated exit schedules for internal combustion engine vehicles.
In this case, many executives and industry analysts believe that redesigning a new wiring harness for fuel vehicles may not be necessary. "I won't invest another penny in internal combustion engines right now," says Sandy Munro, founder and CEO of Detroit-based engineering consulting firm Munro & Associates. "The future is coming too fast," he predicts that electric vehicles will account for more than half of new global sales by 2028.
In contrast, CelLink is a typical example of innovative wiring harness start-ups that are capitalized on. The California-based start-up has developed a fully automated, flat and easy-to-install "flexible wire harness" to replace traditional wire harnesses. It is said that this "flexible wire harness" combines the functions of several traditional wire harnesses, significantly reducing the weight, volume and cost of the wire harness while achieving more automated and modular vehicle assembly. In February, CelLink completed a $250 million financing process for investors including BMW, Lear and Bosch. Ford also previously funded CelLink.
Kevin Cockley, CEO of CelLink, claims that the company's wiring harness has been applied to nearly 1 million electric vehicles. However, Cockley did not disclose a specific customer list. He said the new plant the company is building in Texas will have 25 automated production lines capable of switching designs in about 10 minutes. In addition, the company is working with several car companies to develop electric vehicle wiring harnesses and is considering building another factory in Europe.
"Cel-Link takes only two weeks to deliver the redesigned harness product, compared to 26 weeks to replace the traditional harness." For this reason, Dan Ratliffe, head of Fontinalis Partners, a Detroit-based venture capital firm, says it is this speed that traditional car manufacturers are pursuing in their transition to electronization. Ratliffe also said that the internal combustion engine-led automotive industry has not changed much in the past few decades and does not need to consider the evolution of components such as wiring harnesses; Everything has changed with the arrival of electric vehicles, and wave after wave of technology has surged. Under the wave of electrification, some traditional parts may disappear and some may change dramatically.
Nowadays, the degree of automation and lightweight of new wiring harnesses used in electric vehicles is increasing, and the disadvantages of traditional wiring harnesses will be further magnified. The crisis of wire harness shortage caused by the Russia-Ukraine conflict may, to a certain extent, prompt the car companies to increase their determination to speed up the development of electric vehicles, and the time for traditional fuel vehicles to exit the historical stage may be further advanced.