Northeast Ohio automotive suppliers see challenges, rewards with move to EVs


Other big companies that play in the automotive field are excited for reasons similar to Kramer’s, including Timken and TimkenSteel, in Canton and North Canton respectively.

Like Goodyear, those companies are already getting inquiries from their automotive customers about the products those companies will need for EVs.

For TimkenSteel, those inquiries tend not to be for just steel, which is somewhat of a commodity even in the specialized forms made in Canton, but for entire components like bearings and gears made of special steels and designed to handle the extra torque put out by EVs, said Kevin Raketich, the company’s executive vice president of sales, marketing and business development.

“We’re one of the few steel companies that not only make bars and tubing, but we manufacture components, Raketich said. “On the EV side, most of our products are actual components. … It gives us the opportunity to provide not only materials but more high-value components.”

Similarly, the Timken Co. is working on special bearings that will be designed to handle that same torque — sometimes drawing on the expertise it advanced for the wind-energy industry, said Ryan Evans, Timken’s director of research and development.

The coming EVs won’t need all of the driveline parts that Timken makes, but there will still be ICE vehicles, probably especially those used in the big-motor, tough environments in which the company’s products excel.

Meantime, Evans’ company is gearing up to capture the new EV market with its expertise.

“That actually lends itself to tapered roller bearings that Timken is known for,” Evans said of the torque-handling requirements of EVs. “And with a track record with the OEs (automakers) and our aftermarket companies, we get invited to the game early.”

There are still a lot of question marks hanging over exactly what the EVs of the future will entail and what they’ll need, but there’s no shortage of optimism among some of the area’s big automotive companies.

“It’s going to be a really exciting time to watch (the EV industry) and where you see it now is probably not going to be in 10 years,” said CAR’s Smith.



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