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Our Annual Automotive Outlook was hosted simultaneously with the first North American International Auto Show since 2019 to address some extremely important issues that automotive suppliers and manufacturers need to keep in mind as the electric vehicle revolution really begins to solidify and reshape the automotive supplier landscape.
Setting the stage for the electric vehicle revolution
The seventh year of the outlook took place as the electric vehicle revolution begins to materialize, fulfilling a prediction we have been alluding to since launching our event. Not only is it a major shift in technology and manufacturing as we know it, but there are also a host of other external factors fueling the push to EVs and adding major complications for automotive suppliers. What once seemed 20-30 years out has taken shape in less than a decade.
EV investment pours in, support grows
Since 2020, we’ve seen major investment from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) surrounding EV technology. The transition to EVs will significantly reduce the number of components that make up a vehicle, which could alarm suppliers, but as with all advancements, there will be opportunity abound to those willing to adapt to these changes. “Tesla is currently the dominant player in the battery electric vehicle (BEV) market but as we move toward 2025 other players will emerge and begin to take market share, reducing costs and expanding options for consumers,” said Tom Alongi, leader of the national manufacturing practice. Forecasts for BEV/hybrid combined could amount to half of total vehicle production by the end of the decade.
Most of the recent major legislation has included significant dollars towards EVs and green technology, in an effort to incentivize a shift to this new technology. Governments across the globe have begun to roll out some sort of phase-out plan for ICE vehicle sales. Targets range from as soon as 2025 to as late as 2050, but still very much on the radar. These are goals/projections, but the global economy is starting to shift toward EVs in an effort to reduce carbon emissions.
Barriers to progression
First and foremost, electric vehicles are more expensive than American consumers are used to, which will likely be the main deterrent. Secondly, stress on the power grid is always an issue, pushing consumers to electric vehicles without the infrastructure to support more EVs seems irresponsible. Convenience is another major factor with limited charging stations available. Perhaps one of the most overlooked barriers is the lack of skilled labor with electrical and software skills to support a technological revolution. All this investment and opportunity is almost useless without the labor force to support and make advances in these new sectors. And finally, geopolitical tensions will have a major impact on the global economy and consumer demand.
Where do suppliers fit in?
Before considering where they fit in the new landscape, suppliers must develop their strategy; analyzing their current position, looking within their organization, and discussing expansion to take advantage of potential opportunities. “Now is not the time to panic, but it is the time to plan”, said Dan Bruce, leader of strategy consulting. “Suppliers must seek to understand their exposure to the disruption of electrification,” said Bruce. The first step would be a product portfolio assessment…what products may be losing steam (decline), what products remain unchanged (stagnant) and what products may grow in demand (growth) as electrification takes hold. Once the assessment is complete, suppliers will get a clearer picture of where they fit based on which of those three categories their products fall under.
No matter which of the three categories you find your core product in, you have options. The key is knowing where you stand, what your options are and what is the next step. With proper planning and an effective strategy, you create longevity for your business even in the face of major disruption. The products and services that you currently provide MAY have a place within the electric vehicle revolution.
Large growth in the Southeast
There is a clear priority to build up the local supply chain for automotive/manufacturing, and in the Midwest there is a solid pipeline of localized manufacturers and suppliers, but more recently there has been a ton of investment in the Southeast region. We can point to a few different reasons including: lower energy costs, incentives (land and tax abatements), availability of skilled labor and non-unionized workforces. Suppliers local to the Southeast should be taking advantage of opportunity and those that are not local should be discussing the possibility of getting into that market and specifically what that would look like.
Tom Alongi and Dan Bruce started the session discussing how we have reached our current point in the EV revolution and what suppliers can do instead of panicking. Their full presentations are available here.
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