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Growth opportunities in changing auto industry: Redarc
Mass-market EV adoption could open more business for local parts supplier Redarc
9 Apr 2019
By TUNG NGUYEN
AUSTRALIAN automotive electronic parts manufacturer Redarc is projecting a bright future ahead as it gears up to take advantage of the expected mass-market uptake of electric vehicles and expansion into international markets.
While Redarc managing director Anthony Kittel would not be drawn on further developments of its proposed EV charging infrastructure expansion, he told GoAuto at last week’s Australian Auto Aftermarket Expo that the rise of electrified vehicles also presents other opportunities.
“We’re really ramping up those efforts, in fact we’ve got numerous enquiries for charging stations around the country, but we will look at EV as a holistic opportunity,” he said.
“So, it’s how we take our current product range and integrate that into the EV field.
“Obviously the charging opportunities, that infrastructure side, but also from our aftermarket products and what we can offer the electric vehicle industry – it’s just huge opportunities for us and we’re super-excited.”
With products including solar panels, electronic brake controllers, lights, alarms and battery chargers, most of Redarc’s portfolio could be adopted by EVs easily, but Mr Kittel would not yet confirm specifics.
“The main theme of our business is portable power systems, and no doubt with an EV it is a portable power system because it’s a mobile battery,” he said.
“I’d prefer not to say (what those opportunities are) at this point in time, but if you look at our products and say, ‘How does Redarc integrate that into EVs?’ And that’s essentially what we want to do.
“So it’s how we can offer customers that flexibility to take an EV to Cape York, or an EV to Broome or into the outback, what can Redarc offer them to make sure they are safe and secure on their travels?”
That said, Mr Kittel believes that mass-market EV saturation will not happen without a regulatory push, as outlined by the Australian Labor and Greens party recently.
“If you benchmarked Australia against Norway, in the last 12 months in Norway, 53 per cent of all new vehicles sold are electric, so obviously the Norwegian government is really focused on that and are subsidising the vehicles, subsidising charging, subsidising access on roads … Australia could take a leaf out of that book,” he said.
“From our perspective, industry needs to push ahead, but government can also help with regulation.
“We love change, that’s what creates opportunity, and that’s what our R&D and our engineers are excited by.”
To support this expansion and a push into international markets, Redarc will leverage its new facility – opened last year – as well as cutting-edge equipment and new manufacturing techniques, according to Mr Kittel.
“We’ve had a super 12 months in opening a new facility … we spent $22 million in infrastructure, roughly half of that in buildings and then half on some really sophisticated testing equipment and manufacturing equipment that’s world class,” he said.
“We’re going to harness that capability to enter the North American market, which we’ve started to move into. We’ve got our partnership signed up, we’ve set up our US entity, we’ve got warehousing sorted, we’re putting staff on the ground – so a huge opportunity for us.
“Definitely the RV (recreational vehicle) sector in Europe is key – something that we’ve been working on for some time now in France and Germany and we’re just starting to see the efforts of that investment come through now.”
Redarc could also make use of the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association’s new Automotive Innovation Centres, set to open this year, to leverage US-market vehicle data, which could tie into the company’s new software modelling equipment.
“When I purchased Redarc 22 years ago, it was all hardware, now the bulk of the development is software, and the great thing about that is, that you can update products almost on the run, in terms of giving customers new features,” Mr Kittel said.
“The key thing, what it (new equipment) is doing is reducing our product development time, so we can get our products to market a lot quicker and at much higher quality levels.”
Mr Kittel revealed that with the new tools available to Redarc, the company could use software to simulate the effects of long-term wear, as well as use in various weather conditions, to predict points of failure to improve hardware design before issues present themselves.
3D modelling and printing is also used in the manufacturing process to reduce product lead times to keep Redarc competitive on a global scale.
As for what is on the horizon, Mr Kittel said Redarc is poised to announce its five-year plan later in 2019, but that the expected change in the automotive industry will be a boon for the company.
“There’s a few other projects that we’re working on that we’ve not publicly announced, but, again, it’s how we can use our engineering and our intellectual property to apply products into different industries,” he said.
“When we announce our new strategy to 2025 (later this year) that will be a new pillar for our business.
“It’s an exciting time in the industry with the amount of change its going through, so rather than seeing that as a threat, we just look at that positively and say, ‘What can we do to add value into that industry?’”
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