Watch Now

Global Supply Chain Week Day 4 preview: Automotive

Pandemic lessons take root in established and startup businesses

Romeo Power is expanding its manufacturing footprint and has components for battery packs because it bought materials it needed as a hedge against shortages. (Photo: Romeo Power)

Lessons from the pandemic are helping business leaders face current challenges in the global automotive supply chain.

On Feb. 25, Automotive Day of FreightWaves’ Global Supply Chain Week, CEOs and business leaders will share what keeps them up at night. And what makes them scurry during the workday. Overcoming halted production last spring and investing in keeping workers protected from COVID-19 infection is a shared experience. 

Guests include Mark Duchesne, head of global manufacturing at startup Nikola Corp. Duchesne worked in manufacturing at Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) and Tesla Inc., (NASDAQ: TSLA). They are polar opposites in manufacturing principles. 

Duchesne joined the heavy-duty electric truck maker in 2020. He is trying to bring the best of his experiences to the daunting task of modularly building a $600 million plant in the Arizona desert. And he is overseeing the import of painted truck bodies from Germany.

Growing parts footprint

Richard Simons, general manager of parts sales and marketing for Daimler Truck North America, oversees a growing physical footprint for truck parts in the U.S. and Canada. He is also helping North America’s leading commercial vehicle maker use the internet for and online parts ordering. The goal is shrinking the time needed to fix trucks and improve uptime.

Battery-powered electric trucks are becoming more popular with fleet managers focused on total cost of ownership. Battery pack makers like startup Romeo Power Inc. (NYSE: RMO) strive to increase how much energy the batteries hold while shortening the time needed to recharge plug-in trucks. 

Romeo CEO Lionel Selwood says his company is at the nexus of electrification and hasn’t ruled out making its own battery cells.

Scaling fuel cells

Hydrogen-powered fuel cells are the other electric vehicle technology gaining popularity — and financial backers. Craig Knight, the CEO of Hyzon Motors, took over the former General Motors fuel cell headquarters near Rochester, New York, last July.

Now the spinoff of Singapore’s Fuel Cell Technologies business is looking forward to completing a reverse merger through blank check company Decarbonization Plus Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: DCRB) that could bring in $570 million to scale the business in the U.S. and grow its European presence. 

Knight is a big believer in partnerships to help shield against supply chain disruptions.

Sam Abuelsamid has worked as an engineer and an automotive analyst. The divergent careers have led him to a unique understanding of how the automotive industry ticks as principal analyst for Guidehouse Insights.

Tune in on Feb. 25 as these experts unpack their specific pieces of the automotive landscape and talk about where they are succeeding and what challenges remain.

Featured Day 4 speakers to include:

Ken Washington – Keynote Speaker
Ford Motor Company

Dr. Ken Washington is chief technology officer of Ford Motor Company where he leads Ford’s global research organization, overseeing the development and implementation of the company’s technology strategy.  

Craig Knight
HYZON Motors

Craig Knight is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of HYZON Motors with a diverse industrial background in International Sales and Marketing and Business Management.

John Godfrey
Executive Supply Chain Consultant

John Godfrey is currently serving as an Executive Supply Chain Consultant with Pirelli Tire North America.  He previously served in various vice president and director roles in Logistics and Purchasing for Pirelli for the last 15 years. 

Lionel Selwood
Romeo Power, Inc

Born and raised in the US Virgin Islands, Lionel brings expertise in strategy, sales, operations management, financial management, lean six sigma, supplier development, strategic sourcing, product quality management and cultural development.

Mark Duchesne
Global Head of Manufacturing

Mark Duchesne, global head of manufacturing at Nikola Corp., most recently spent four years at Chinese electric automaker BYTON, and before that, he worked in manufacturing at Tesla and Toyota.

Richard Simons
General Manager of Aftermarket Parts and Service

Richard Simons is the general manager of Parts Sales and Marketing for Daimler Trucks North America covering the U.S., Canada and other global markets, and the former president of Daimler Trucks Remarketing, and was general manager of Service. 

Sam Abuelsamid

Principal Analyst
Guidehouse Insights

Sam Abuelsamid is a principal analyst leading Guidehouse Insights’ E-Mobility Research Service with a focus on transportation electrification, automated driving and mobility services, working with clients to help them understand emerging technology trends and shape strategies.

8 questions with Nikola head of manufacturing Mark Duchesne

Competition intensifies for commercial vehicle battery makers

Hyzon Motors to get $570M from SPAC backing fuel cell technology

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.