In order for any complex and expensive technology to achieve widespread success in the marketplace, cooperation can be just as if not more important than competition. This is as true today for electric vehicles as it was in the early days of the automobile when automakers and fuel providers had to settle on standards for filler nozzles. Similarly, cell phone technology didn't really take off until standards were in place that allowed interoperability between different service providers.

In the electric vehicle space, collaboration is happening in the form of standards for charging connectors and communications protocols that will enable drivers to be billed for charging. The technology within the vehicles is evolving as well but sales volumes are likely to remain painfully small for some time, a fact that will limit cost reductions from economies of scale. As a result, automakers and suppliers are teaming up to share battery, electronic and motor advances so that they can bring down costs. Once a critical mass of electric vehicle sales is reached, automakers will likely start to develop some unique technologies again in order to set themselves apart. Until that happens, partnerships between companies like Tesla, Toyota and Daimler as well as between automakers, governments and utilities, are likely to become more common.

[Source: Automotive News – sub. req'd]

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