Volkswagen’s big kahuna of HR, Karlheinz Blessing – Member of the Board of Management with responsibility for Human Resources and Organization – dropped another brake shoe on global employment in auto manufacturing, which has been under pressure for decades from automation. This time, it’s electric vehicles.
Every global manufacturer is working on a lineup of passenger and commercial EVs. Numerous EV brands are already on the road, from tiny cars to delivery vehicles. UPS, FedEx, USPS, and other delivery services are already looking at EVs or are testing them.
The German postal service has formed its own startup to build EVs in Deutsche-Post-yellow for its delivery runs. These “Streetscooters” have been in production for a while. By the end of this year, 2,000 are expected to deliver mail in Germany.
EVs are much easier and cheaper to build than vehicles with internal combustion engines. Instead of engines, engine control systems, emission control systems, cooling systems, air-intake systems, starters, transmissions with clutches or torque-converters, or transaxles, fuel systems, exhaust systems with catalytic converters, the computers, sensors, and regulators to tie it all together, and the like, EVs have electric motors, a battery, and some wiring and controllers to make it all work.
EVs been around since the 1800s and predate the invention of the internal combustion engine. The only roadblock to mass adoption has been the battery: too expensive, too heavy, and takes too long to charge. But enormous amounts of money are being poured into battery technology and manufacturing processes, leading to rapid improvements from year to year. It won’t be long before the lower costs of building an EV and the “fuel” savings can overcome the additional costs of a battery to produce a economically compelling vehicle.
Every automaker knows this – and they’re getting ready for that moment. But the relative simplicity of building EVs has a big drawback, in human terms.