‘Reluctant’ Delivery

Nidec, UPS team up for new fuel cell delivery trucks

Two companies that have spent the last decade reinventing themselves are teaming up for an extra-efficient delivery process.

Nidec Motor Corp. is providing the switched reluctance motors for UPS’ new fuel cell delivery trucks. Motors of this variety, popularized by major manufacturers in recent years for their efficient design, use fewer parts and cost less to make than a permanent-magnet motor that would generally be used in this application. Fewer parts = fewer replacement parts = less downtime. Reluctance motors also don’t require transmission, with power output regulated through electronic software that constantly measures their workload. Although these motors have taken a number of industrial electric motor sectors by storm (namely those with smaller applications) it’s fitting that Nidec and UPS are the two companies to try them out in a bigger operation.

Nidec, for one, has seen substantial growth through international expansion and stark diversification. In the past decade-plus, the Japanese company re-calibrated its business portfolio while scooping up acquisitions along the way. A major part of this was venturing into the (electric, first, and more recently, autonomous) automobile market. In 2005, over half of Nidec’s sales came from small precision electric motors, with only 7% derived from the sector including auto components and home electronics.

By 2015, those slices had more than evened out: now the auto sector accounts for 47%, while small precision motors come in at 38%. They’ve also expanded optical parts and mechanical devices, as evidenced in the chart to the above right. Led by an ambitious CEO and a tidal wave of momentum, Nidec hopes to continue along that trajectory.

The United Parcel Service, meanwhile, has clearly proven what brown can do for you. After a full marketing upheaval and reinvention of its business model, UPS has taken the past few years to emphasize international expansion. It bought up significant investments in the Middle East beginning in 2014, and also acquired an Irish logistics company. Just this week, UPS announced a partnership Tuesday to provide logistics at the 2020 World’s Fair in Dubai, a venture it sees as a springboard to a bigger presence in the Middle East. Oh, and they have dance battles with their rivals at FedEx.

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