Firm’s Current Lead in North America for Level II Chargers
May Be Bolstered by ‘Game-Changing’ Product Early in 2014
Anyone counting AeroVironment out of the EV charging business is sorely mistaken, says Wahid Nawabi, senior VP and GM of the company’s efficient energy systems segment. The U.S. electric vehicle sector may be littered with the corpses of failed companies, but his is not among them, he says.
“Our track record looks better than anyone in the industry,” Nawabi says. “It’s a healthy business.”
AeroVironment EES segment provides chargers for industrial vehicles as well as road EVs, and power cycling and test equipment for the development of products like fuel cells and lithium ion batteries.
‘iPhone of the EV Market’
For EV charging, Nawabi told F&F, AeroVironment is preparing a “game-changing” new product that holds potential to re-shape the landscape for EV adoption in the U.S. The product, to be launched early next month, will be “the iPhone of the EV market,” he says.
The product “will make plug-in electric car charging even easier, more cost effective and more flexible than ever,” AeroVironment president, chairman and CEO Timothy Conver told analysts late last month.
“We have maximized our participation in the market across all levels of charging hardware and both automotive dealers,” Conver said: “automotive suppliers, utilities, public and residential applications and software as well as hardware.”
Most Level II and DC Fast-Chargers
Already, says Nawabi, “We have the largest installed base for Level II chargers in North America,” with more than 14,000 installed. About 90% are residential, he says, “from Hawaii to Quebec.” AeroVironment also claims the largest installed base of DC fast chargers in North America: approximately 250 out of the markets total of 350.
The firm also has the strongest ties with electric vehicle OEMs like Fiat, Ford and Nissan, Nawabi says.
He acknowledges that AeroVironment re-organized its EES people this past spring, and that there was a “small” reduction in force. “In some areas we had excess capacity or we did not have the right capability,” he says. “We needed to re-direct our skill-set.”
AeroVironment EES has a full-time business development man in Detroit, and well as new sales executives and a new head of product marketing.
“We have the strongest portfolio of products,” he says. “the business is really poised for growth.”
AeroVironment notched total sales of just under $109 million for the six-month period ended October 26, with $17.7 million from EES and $91.3 million from unmanned aerial systems. Both tallies were down from the same period in 2012.
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Source: Fleets & Fuels interview