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128-year-old company makes shocking pivot to capitalize on clean energy: 'Just really, really smart people'

"The one thing I'll never underestimate is the power of American innovation."

"The one thing I’ll never underestimate is the power of American innovation."

Photo Credit: Lincoln Electric

A welding supply company in Cleveland, Ohio, has seen the boom in electric vehicles in the United States and decided it wants a piece of the action.

Energy News Network (ENN) detailed how Lincoln Electric, which has been manufacturing industrial equipment for 128 years, has begun producing the Velion DC fast charger, which can be used to recharge EVs.

According to ENN, the slightly unexpected shift in strategy began when senior engineers told company CEO Chris Mapes that the plasma and electronics equipment it was already producing was remarkably similar to the tech required for clean-vehicle chargers. 

"If you were to open up a welding machine or a plasma cutting machine, you would see power electronics," Mapes said at a ceremony introducing its new product, per ENN. 

One of the selling points for Lincoln Electric's technology is its reliability, reported the news outlet. The company has been producing industrial products for years that can function in various weather conditions and last for long periods, even while being installed outside. 

The key to the longevity of its devices is that circuit boards are covered with a clear plastic epoxy, and the minimal connections needed to create the electrical circuit help to avoid any issues associated with typically unhelpful weather types. 

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"Because it's so 'simple' and clean in design, and well protected, that's where we believe the inherent reliability comes from," Steve Sumner, vice president for corporate innovation at Lincoln Electric, told ENN. 

The innovation has been praised by experts outside of the company, too, with Sheila Cockburn from the United States Department of Transportation's Joint Office of Energy and Transportation noting it made a "smart" move by taking the technology it already had and repurposing it for an emerging market. 

Meanwhile, the president and CEO of BRITE Energy Innovators, Rick Stockburger, had similarly kind words for Lincoln Electric and other companies looking to the future to help provide new avenues for manufacturing revenue.

"The one thing I'll never underestimate is the power of American innovation," Stockburger said, per ENN. "There are just really, really smart people that look at opportunity and frankly are interested in seizing it."

Ahead of final figures released for 2023 as a whole, Atlas Public Policy said that EVs were expected to constitute 9% of sales in the U.S. passenger vehicle market by the end of the year, as reported by the Associated Press in November. 

The data summarized by the AP said this would represent a new record for electric cars as they muscle their way into a market typically dominated by models powered by dirty fuel. Atlas suggested that 2023 will be the first year that EV sales eclipse the 1 million vehicle sales mark, with between 1.3 million and 1.4 million flying out of showrooms. 

It's welcome news for the environment, with EVs producing zero tailpipe pollution when out on the roads. By comparison, vehicles powered by internal combustion engines produce planet-warming gases such as carbon dioxide, with the Union of Concerned Scientists saying that personal cars and trucks account for nearly a fifth of all U.S.-based carbon pollution. 

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