Market scenario

Mechanical engineering a dying profession?

| Author / Editor: Ahlam Rais / Ahlam Rais

One of the biggest transformations regarding the production of EVs is the replacement of internal combustion engines with lithium-ion batteries.
One of the biggest transformations regarding the production of EVs is the replacement of internal combustion engines with lithium-ion batteries. (Source: Deposit Photos)

With the rise of electric vehicles, many have questioned the survival of the mechanical engineering profession in the automobile industry. Experts confirm of challenges for the profession however, do not agree that it’s the end of these professionals. MM International offers an overview of this scenario. Read on to know more…

The electric vehicle market is projected to reach 27 million units by 2030 from an estimated 3 million units in 2019, at a CAGR of 21.1 %, according to a report by Markets and Markets. The E-mobility space is gaining ground across the world as people are becoming more aware of its numerous benefits. In terms of design and basic components, one of the biggest transformations that will be witnessed in the production of electric vehicles (EVs) is the replacement of internal combustion engines with lithium-ion batteries. In this background, what does it mean for mechanical engineers who have always worked to manufacture traditional or fossil-fuel based cars?

Mechanical engineers for creation of EVs

There is no doubt that with changing demand, mechanical engineers will face many challenges however, it will not lead to elimination of their overall services. For instance, electric vehicles (EVs) will still require components that are used in traditional cars such as drivetrains, heating/cooling systems, transmissions, brakes, suspensions and steering controls.

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The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has highlighted the many challenges requiring specific attention from engineers:

• The need to replace various composites, plastics and aluminum alloys with sheet-metal steel, which is essential to the torque of an electric motor and minimising the overall loss of its energy as heat.

• The increased demand for lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. The lithium-ion battery market is estimated to grow to 106,493 million dollars by 2024, states a report by Research and Markets.

• The development of rugged mechatronics hardware to accompany AC/DC inverters and high-amperage/voltage motor controls. These pieces of equipment have to withstand constant vibrations as well as wide variances in temperature.

• The design, testing and installation of the different infrastructures supporting EVs. For example, mechanical engineers may contribute to the roadside charging stations necessary for recharging an EV on the go.

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There are also concerns about the presence of mechanical engineers in the midst of the automotive industry becoming highly automated. In this scenario, mechanical engineers will be responsible for creation of the robots as well as other machines used to enhance assembly lines in the automobile industry.

New opportunities for mechanical engineers

The rise of EVs has also opened up diverse new opportunities for machine engineering and as a result of this many new materials and technologies are being experimented with to create cars of the future. For example, various grades of advanced steel, aluminum, magnesium, plastics, and even costly carbon fibre are being explored to create these cleaner means of transport.

All in all, the demand for mechanical engineers in the automobile industry will further grow in the coming years.

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