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Updated on June 27, 2022 1:18 am

‘Humble and hidden’ auto suppliers driving the EV revolution By Reuters


© Reuters. An worker recordsdata an element for a punching software at TE Connectivity in Woerth, Germany, February 16, 2022. REUTERS/Lukas Barth


By Nick Carey and Christoph Steitz

WOERT, Germany (Reuters) – The shift to electrical vehicles could pose an existential menace to suppliers of combustion engines however for auto components corporations reminiscent of TE Connectivity (NYSE:) the problem is maintaining with demand.

It makes the connectors that hyperlink miles of cables in vehicles to all issues electrical, from sensors to gasoline injection techniques to infotainment – and if there’s something the vehicles of an electrical period will want, it is bigger and ever extra complicated connectors.

That is why TE spent $125 million to open a brand new constructing in 2020 devoted to electrical car (EV) components at a manufacturing facility tucked away in a shallow valley within the small city of Woert in southern Germany.

And that is why it is looking out for acquisitions or partnerships to maintain increasing its auto enterprise, Chief Govt Terrence Curtin advised Reuters: “We’ll proceed so as to add capability.”

As legacy auto components suppliers determine if and when to promote combustion engine companies or purchase EV components makers, TE and rivals within the connectors or sensors companies reminiscent of Sensata Applied sciences, Amphenol Corp (NYSE:) and Molex need to provide higher-value elements and do extra improvement work with carmakers going by a large transition.

“All these automakers speaking about shifting their fleets to electrical and making guarantees about vary are incapable of doing that with out suppliers like TE,” says William Kerwin, an analyst at Morningstar who covers TE, Sensata and Amphenol.

Auto components account for over 40% of TE’s $15 billion in income, making it one the most important automobile suppliers most individuals have by no means heard of. Its $43 billion market worth is way larger than Nissan (OTC:) and Renault (PA:) mixed – and greater than thrice heavyweight provider Continental.

TE has a price-to-earnings ratio of about 18, Amphenol and Sensata are within the 20s, whereas Continental trades at about 10.


TE’s Curtin mentioned automobile components suppliers and automakers alike had been caught out by an explosion in demand for EVs in Europe over the previous two years – and with everybody taking part in catch-up TE’s new facility was operating at double its deliberate manufacturing.

Whereas a world scarcity of semiconductors has hit total automobile manufacturing, Curtin mentioned automakers have been utilizing the chips they do should prioritise EVs over fossil gasoline autos – placing ever extra pressure on suppliers reminiscent of TE.

The problem TE faces is getting the timing and scale of its enlargement proper, given the EV transition and shift to self-driving vehicles may run into pace bumps, reminiscent of an finish to subsidies or security considerations, Curtin mentioned.

As a result of for TE, electrification means going larger.

The far larger energy wanted by EVs means TE should develop bigger and extra complicated elements to deal with the additional present, with out inflicting fires.

TE’s typical components have as much as 5 elements however its newer EV components have as much as 50 elements. The provider additionally now buys tonnes of aluminium, which is lighter and cheaper than , to make up parts of these bigger components.

Within the older a part of the Woert manufacturing facility, machines spit out 16 connectors for fossil gasoline vehicles a second. Within the new constructing, extra complicated and expensive machines, some equipped by Germany’s Manz, crank out bigger copper connectors with welded alloy springs for EV cost ports at a far slower tempo.

TE additionally makes a big connector right here that sits atop an EV battery module – an EV has as much as 12 modules – and serves as its mind, measuring every battery cell’s efficiency whereas a tiny semiconductor measures their temperature.

The brand new facility in Woert could make 2 million such connectors a 12 months however demand continues to soar.

“We’ll want extra,” mentioned Matthias Lechner, TE’s head of Europe, Center East and Africa, including that TE deliberate to fabricate extra at a plant in Hungary and elsewhere.

Graphic: On the rise:

Lechner, who describes TE as “humble and hidden”, says its connectors can scale back EV charging time by 10 minutes, an edge carmakers can promote to shoppers.

CEO Curtin says EVs and self-driving vehicles will double the worth of the components TE provides from about $70 now for the common fossil gasoline automobile. Meaning the payoff might be large.

EVs virtually doubled their world share of car gross sales to six% in 2021, in response to analysis group JATO Dynamics, and that share is barely set to rise.

Europe’s auto provider market will develop to 330 billion euros ($359 billion) in 2030 from 216 billion now, pushed by software program, EVs and electronics, McKinsey estimates, as corporations deal with chip bottlenecks and value strain whereas investing in progress.

“We’re observing a double transformation,” McKinsey accomplice Timo Moeller mentioned.

TE’s Woert web site employs 2,200 folks and is including extra engineers and technicians, in addition to totally different machines to make connectors for knowledge in self-driving vehicles – as a result of not like EV components, tiny connections are higher for shifting knowledge.

TE has three auto components factories in Germany and one other 5 throughout Europe. Worldwide, it has 29 factories devoted to its automotive enterprise.

Morningstar’s Kerwin mentioned TE faces the identical dangers as others in a cyclical enterprise such because the auto business.

However he mentioned TE had a “sticky” relationship with clients and has embedded engineers with carmakers to develop merchandise for autos in an electrical age.

“The writing is on the wall that it’s a must to play into electrification if you wish to succeed,” Kerwin mentioned.

($1 = 0.9194 euros)


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