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Nidec invests billions to become global leader in EV motors

05 March, 2020

The Japanese motor-maker Nidec has announced ambitious plans that, it hopes, will make it the global leader in motors and drivetrains for electric vehicles. It is investing around 200bn yen ($1.87bn) in three new plants in China, Poland and Mexico, which will have a combined output of around 10 million EV drives per year, with aim of catapulting its global market share from 4% at present to 35% within a decade.

Nidec’s aim is to boost its total annual revenues from 1.55 trillion yen (S14.5bn) at present, to 5 trillion ($47bn) by 2025. The company’s founder and CEO, Shigenobu Nagamori, has set a goal of becoming a 10 trillion yen ($94bn) company by 2030.

Currently, automotive products account for around 21% of Nidec’s revenues, with the largest share of its income (36%) still coming from appliance, commercial and industrial products, and 28.9% coming from its traditional market for small precision motors. Around 10% of its income is derived from motors for computer hard drives, but this market is shrinking as solid-state memory supersedes them.

About 10% of Nidec’s revenues currently come from the machinery sector, including robots, factory automation systems and power transmission equipment. Contributing to this are Nidec’s drives-making subsidiary Control Techniques and the French motor manufacturer, Leroy-Somer.

Nagamori said recently that to achieve his 10 trillion yen target, Nidec will need to expand all of its businesses, adding that the biggest growth will come from products that are “completely novel”.

He pointed out that by 2030, EVs will represent around 30% of the 90 million vehicles expected to be sold globally. “I will build a manufacturing foundation that can respond to this sharp rise in demand,” he declared, adding that the traction motors needed to make this happen will “require unprecedented technological innovation”.

Nidec recently announced 50kW and 200kW additions to its existing portfolio of EV drivetrains which combine motors, gearboxes and inverters. With the new models – due to enter production in 2022 and 2023 – Nidec estimates it can cater for 98% of the EV motor market. The 4.2kNm, 200kW drivetrain weighs just 95kg.

Nidec’s recently announced 200kW EV drivetrain weighs just 95kg, but can deliver 4.2kNm of torque

Nagamori believes that he will be able to sell EV motors for 30–50% less than his rivals. Nidec has already orders for more than 10 million of its “e-axles” due for delivery by 2025.

To help him achieve his aims, Nagamori has brought in Jun Seki, formerly vice-COO at Nissan Motor, as president and COO.

Nidec already has an EV drivetrain joint venture with the PSA Group (owner of Peugeot, Citroen and Opel) which began operations last year and is expected to produce 120,000 systems this year and 180,000 in 2021, before reaching an eventual target of 900,000 drivetrains per year.

Nagamori has earmarked around 500bn yen ($4.7bn) to continue his aggressive programme of mergers and acquisitions covering all parts of his business. Last year, for example, Nidec acquired a 90% stake in Roboteq, the US-based developer of ultra-low voltage drives for applications such as AGVs.

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