A while back I had an interesting talk with Oshua Allen, AC Propulsion’s Vehicle Engineer Manager who was kind enough to let me drive the company’s eBox I wrote about here. Here is a few questions I asked him:
What got you into this line of business and how did you find yourself at AC Propulsion?
J.A.: I’ve had a passion for cars my whole life. After graduating from UCLA, I was transferred to IBM’s automotive competency center in Detroit. After 2 years of working with Chrysler and their suppliers I received an offer to work for Scuderia Ferrari (Ferrari’s Formula 1 team) in Italy. I spent 3 years working for Ferrari as a CAD specialist while also competing in the Italian Formula Ford Championship. This lead to an offer to become a Maserati test driver, which I did for 3.5 years. As I became more aware of the problems facing our planet I began to consider other environmentally conscious employment opportunities. When the Tesla Roadster hit the press, I jumped at the idea of working for an electric car manufacturer. I considered offers from both Tesla and AC Propulsion. Ultimately I chose AC Propulsion because it provided the best chance to immerse myself in every facet of the electric vehicle industry. I am currently the Vehicle Engineering Manager.
What you general feeling is right now regarding the EV industry? Do you feel it is going in the right direction? Is the EV industry about to repeat mistakes made by the old car one or is it fundamentally different now?
J.A.: The EV industry is finally ready to run after many false starts through the decades. Consider that not much has changed in automotive battery technology over the past 100 years. Only now that hybrids are on the market are we seeing the investments in research and development necessary to produce economical and long lasting traction batteries. I am confident that the major OEMs will have electric cars on the road in this decade. This will bring economies of scale and production capabilities for the kind of mass production that EVs have never previously seen. However, the biggest opportunity for mistakes is in government policy. There are currently policies in place that hamper the roll-out of an economical and efficient charging infrastructure. Private companies are making a land grab to be the first to build subscription based charging points. Policymakers are crafting legislation to charge road tax based on miles driven. These are all issues that are premature and likely to build obstacles for widespread EV adoption. Nonetheless, mistakes will be made and companies will come and go. The only thing I’m sure of is that EVs are now here to stay.
What are you guys working on? What can we expect from ACP’s role in the future?
J.A.: AC Propulsion is primarily a drive system supplier. Our advantage is our motor and power electronics technologies and we continue to develop new concepts. Our vehicle development department exists primarily to create a market for our drive systems. To that effect, we are working closely with several OEMs to develop production electric vehicles. It’s too soon to see where AC Propulsion will be when the dust settles, but we are in a very favorable position right now. Particularly after the MINI E contract. We are also looking forward to some competition motorsports vehicles powered by AC Propulsion drive systems.
Note: AC Propulsion now works on electric drivetrains and systems integration for EVs.
For more information: AC Propulsion