E-vehicles were once considered the future of mobility. Now, it’s a solid present-day reality for drivers around the world. Countless drivers are now hopping into electric or hybrid cars, trucks, and buses instead of their fossil-fuelled powered counterparts. However, what is the future for e-vehicles?
Tony Sufler, the VP of Ops and MD at Momentum Dynamics, might just have the answer. He’s the developer of a new, innovative way to wirelessly charge electric vehicles of all shapes and sizes. His pioneering idea might just be the step towards electric vehicles that can be operated 24 hours a day!
If you want to find out more about how Tony started his career and worked himself up to VP at one of the leading innovators in the electric vehicle market, watch our video now! We talk about charging changes and the future of e-vehicles.
How did you get into manufacturing and the automotive industry?
When I was a lot younger I wanted to be a chef, but my parents weren’t too keen on the idea! So I went to Penn State University for engineering. Early on in my career, I realized I was more interested in making things than designing things. My father was in the automotive industry on the retail side and in the repair industry. I always had a big interest in cars. A little bit into my career, I worked for a tier-one automotive supplier for General Motors and for Lear, who make a lot of interiors for cars. I did that for about 10 years, and really, enjoyed that industry.
In addition, I worked for a company that produced high power and high voltage transformers and power supplies. So if I had to put together my two biggest influences in my career, that’s what directed me to Momentum. We support vehicle companies and those integrations and our products are high power and high voltage. So it’s almost like the perfect collision.
How does the technology that you’re developing work?
We produce wireless vehicle chargers. So, if you have an e-vehicle, the traditional way to charge your vehicle is to plug it in. We’re focused on fleets of vehicles, whether they’re buses, trucks or automobiles. What our product does is inductive charging, so you don’t need to actually plug your car in. So in theory, with small charges throughout the day, the vehicle can run 24 hours a day without taking that vehicle offline.
We have strategically placed charging pads that are put into the ground. There’s a receiving pad on the vehicle, so once the vehicle drives over the pad, certain things happen with regard to alignment. That’s how the vehicles charge. It’s done in a short amount of time, whereas plugging your vehicle in takes longer to accomplish the charge.
What are the challenges of getting from manufacture to deployment?
Right now we’re in, what I call, the education part. We’re learning a lot about our technology with improvements. As far as operations go, my challenge is to look a bit further down the road to adequately scale to higher levels of production. That’s where I’m going to tap into a lot of things I’ve done in the past with automation, robotics etc, to properly scale the anticipated increase in business
We’re implementing a lot of processes to anticipate when customers will give us a try on a trial basis. So, we do have a number of successful deployments already. What we are learning from that is, what can we do to improve the installations? And with our contract manufacturers, what can we do to reduce the time it takes to actually produce the equipment? It is pretty complicated and, based on that, we have to formulate what the best paths are to scale that.
What are the future plans for Momentum Dynamics?
We’re solidifying our processes and developing our quality management system. We learn areas of improvement through repetition. Then, we start to develop the basis and the benchmarks for a continuous improvement program. At the same time, we’re looking at where our strategic partners are going to be.
A lot of our customers are located in Europe and a lot of our immediate opportunities will be in Europe. This is because the future of e-vehicles is accepted more in Europe than here in the States. There are a lot of influences being put into the e-vehicle market, not only for improved efficiencies but also for environmental issues. But, from where we can see, Europe is far ahead of the United States right now.
Do you have any techniques that help you achieve your goals or stay on track personally or business-wise?
I think there are two things that we do in our jobs as managers. There are certain tactical things that we have to do to accomplish tasks. But I think we need to spend a certain amount of time to take a step back. I always call it, getting in Tony’s helicopter and going to 10,000 feet to review my strategy. And it’s my job to continue to remind people of that. If we forget what the strategy is and why we’re doing it, we just become proverbial firefighters and don’t progress the big picture of what we’re doing. It’s taken some mental discipline on my part to be able to accomplish that on a regular basis.
On a personal side, I’m extremely active. I’m a very competitive duathlon, so I run a lot and cycle a lot. I compete and I think that keeps my mind fresh. I’m also an avid reader and a big proponent of the ‘why’ we do things, instead of what we do and how we do it. I’m a big advocate of Simon Sinek and a lot of his readings.
What’s the best way for people to find out about what’s going on with Momentum Dynamics?
The best way for companies to look at things we’re doing and where we’re an extremely active participant is LinkedIn. That’s where we do all our social media. We’re also in the press. We’ve been on CNN, we’ve been in local governments and discussions with the national government in the United States. So our website and following us on LinkedIn is the best way to keep track of Momentum Dynamics.