DETROIT -- The investment surge by both new and established automakers in the electric-vehicle market is a bonanza for factory equipment manufacturers that supply the highly automated machines that make the cars.
The good times for the makers of robots and other factory equipment reflect the broader recovery in U.S. manufacturing.
After falling post-COVID to $361.8 million in April 2020, new orders surged to almost $506 million in June, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
New electric vehicle factories, funded by investors who have snapped up newly public shares in companies such as EV start-up Lucid Group are boosting demand.
"I'm not sure it's reached its climax yet. There is still more to go," Andrew Lloyd, electromobility segment leader at Stellantis-owned supplier Comau, said in an interview. "Over the next 18 to 24 months, there is going to be a significant demand coming our way."
Growth in the EV sector, propelled by the success of Tesla, comes on top of the normal work manufacturing equipment makers do to support production of gasoline-powered vehicles.
Automakers will invest over $37 billion in North American plants from 2019 to 2025, with 15 of 17 new plants in the United States, according to LMC Automotive. Over 77 percent of that spending will be directed at SUV or EV projects.
Equipment providers are in no rush to add to their nearly full capacity.
"There is a natural point where we will say 'No'" to new business, said Comau's Lloyd.
For just one area of a factory, like a paint shop or a body shop, an automaker can easily spend $200 million to $300 million, industry officials said.