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Expert interview Hitachi ABB Power Grids
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Rainer Schröder

Expert interview Hitachi ABB Power Grids

For the first time at the PCIM Europe 2021, we will be focusing on a specific country: the United States. On this occasion, we asked our long-standing exhibitors operating in the US for their assessment of the US market, especially with regard to the power electronics industry.

  1. Why did you decide to establish a location in the US?
    ABB Semiconductors was already represented in the US in the 1990s with its own subsidiary in order to serve the large American market as well as possible. Then, as now, proximity to the customers and local customer support were important.
  2. How important is the United States as a sales and distribution market for your company in Europe?
    The US is the third largest market for us after Europe and China. In recent years, many solutions have been developed in the US and then manufactured in China. This has changed in recent years due to political factors, so that the US has now become more important again as a production location.
  3. In your opinion, in which industries has the US market been leading in recent years?
    The IT sector in particular has contributed directly or indirectly to our sales in recent years with customers working in the area of power supplies for server farms. The oil & gas sector has also been very strong in the recent past. However, this has come to a standstill due to the drop in oil prices and the moratorium on fracking. In the future, e-mobility will certainly play a greater role.
  4. In your opinion, which US power electronics products are in demand in Europe and which European products are in demand in the US?
    Today, there are a large number of e-mobility start-up companies in the US that are developing different solutions for different aspects of charging infrastructure through to in-vehicle propulsion. Some of these young companies will directly or indirectly have a great influence on the future of mobility. There are also interesting approaches in the field of energy generation, e.g. through nuclear fusion, which have received significant venture capital. In the traditional field of electric drives, European companies or simply overseas locations of American companies are often technologically ahead of purely American companies, because of the need for technical innovations and continuous improvements to survive in the extremely competitive market in the long term.
  5. What makes the US special as an industrial partner in power electronics? What is the most important advantage for you?
    It continues to produce interesting technical innovations in other technical areas, which have a major influence on developments in power electronics in other countries in the medium to long term. The car manufacturer Tesla is a good example of how an American company can shake up an entire segment. Just two years ago, many market observers were still wondering whether Tesla would ever bring the Model 3 to the road. Today, the Model 3 is the absolute leader in its segment and every traditional carmaker is now trying to step up their game.
  6. What are the strengths of the US market in power electronics?
    One of the great strengths of the US market is the combination of power electronics with other disciplines such as digitalization. American companies were already thinking about digital power electronics before this was even an issue in other markets. One of the most prominent examples is the self-propelled car. It was only with the initiatives of Google and Apple that car manufacturers began to seriously address this topic.

“American companies were already thinking about digital power electronics before this was even an issue in other markets.”

Rainer Schröder

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  • USA Special

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