Market Snapshot


This open-frame roadster displayed in the AVS booth at the 2008 SEMA Show features an electric powertrain, including weather-sealed batteries and an AVS air suspension.

Enthusiasts eager to wean themselves from petroleum dependence and those seeking new automotive challenges are finding more options then ever, especially in electric vehicles. Despite falling fuel prices, EVs have grown beyond an underground movement. Major automakers are now rushing concepts and production-intent EVs to auto show displays. Tier-one suppliers are acquiring smaller electrical component and systems suppliers. Specialists in converting cars to electric power are thriving.

Excitement for EVs was also noticeable at the 2008 SEMA Show. Fresno-based suspension manufacturer AVS displayed a complete air suspension package on a custom electric roadster featuring weather-sealed batteries.

Physics Lab from Lake Havasu, Arizona, meanwhile, displayed an innovative product: regenerative shock absorbers. The company’s electric '85 Ford Bronco (shown below) is fitted with a hydraulic system that enables an accumulator to capture energy generated during shock compression.

Although EVs aren’t yet mainstream in practice, they have penetrated consumer awareness. The Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) says there are 70,000 electric vehicles on U.S. roads already, although the soft economy and tight credit market will likely stall near-term production.

Wayne Alexander, an electric-vehicle converter from Kansas, recently told the Boston Globe that his company is busier than ever thanks to the EV buzz. Business, he says, “has always been steady, but this is out of hand now. I have them waiting in line.”

Ryan Bohm of EV Source also told the Boston Globe that “there definitely has been an upturn. A lot of people ask me if business has gone down with the downturn in the economy, but it has stayed really strong.”

Not only automakers are sensing the buzz, but also their top suppliers. Canadian company Magna International recently acquired electric-component manufacturer BluWav Systems, a firm specializing in progressive electrical propulsion packages and hybrid management systems. The move represents a move to synergize the possibility of large-scale support for the electrification of future vehicles.

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