Where is the U.S. Automotive Industry Headed?

Where is the U.S. Automotive Industry Headed?

Dec 5, 2016

By Tracey Hyatt Bosman, Managing Director at Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Company Published on December 1, 2016 The U.S. automotive industry and its supplier network, once entrenched in Michigan and surrounding Great Lakes states, has been migrating southward in recent decades. As foreign automakers established operations in lower cost, non-union states across the South, their supplier networks filled in around them. In fact, the current map of existing and emerging U.S. automotive clusters extends from Michigan down to Alabama.   U.S. Automotive Clusters – Existing and Emerging [1] The darker the shaded circle, the higher the concentration of auto-related employment. The states highlighted in red have at least one OEM assembler. It’s no secret that OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) are the magnets driving the concentration of suppliers.  Yet while suppliers have a tendency to cluster, and in some cases are required to do so in order to meet vendor requirements of the OEMs, they do exercise latitude in their location selection. Skills availability, tax and incentive policy, real estate availability, and other location selection factors also come into play.  Below is our analysis of automotive hot spots in the Midwest and Southeast – including employment numbers by state – as well as emerging destinations in seemingly unlikely places.   Hot Spots [2] The Midwest (particularly MI, OH, IN) continues to build on its strong tradition in the automotive sector. Specifically, this region offers access to deep pools of skilled labor and a highly advanced logistics infrastructure. Michigan, where the U.S.automotive industry took root, remains a powerhouse despite perceptions to the contrary. It leads the country in automotive production employment and dominates in engineering and technical employment. Ohio claims second place. Locations like Columbus are hoping that the plastic injection molding industry will grow due to Utica and Marcellus shale deposits in the region, enabling local production of raw resins and hydrocarbons. The Southeast (particularly KY, TN, SC, AL, MS) was the initial landing place for foreign automakers includingNissan, Mercedes, BMW, Volvo and Toyota and their suppliers. These companies have been drawn to the region’s (generally) lower operational costs, the robust transportation infrastructure (including seaports) and the relative lack of union activity. Emerging Destinations  A “third wave” of U.S. automotive activity may be beginning to emerge in seemingly unlikely places such as...

3 Mega Trends in Automotive Creating New Opportunities for…

3 Mega Trends in Automotive Creating New Opportunities for…

Sep 14, 2016

“3 Mega Trends in Automotive Creating New Opportunities for Tier 1, 2, & 3 Suppliers” By Perri Cline, IQMS Manufacturing ERP Recently, IQMS participated in the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) Management Briefing Seminars (MBS) in Traverse City, Michigan and observed several three undeniable trends that the automotive industry OEMs and suppliers must address in their strategy and plans for the end of this decade. Material and process innovation is a requirement.  Part, module and systems redesign based on material and process innovation will be necessary across the entire vehicle to successfully reduce weight and enable hybrid and electrified powertrains to meet US federal regulatory requirements for 2020 – 2025. This is driving OEMs, Tier I’s and entire supply chains to pursue disruptive designs to combine components into single pieces, eliminate unnecessary fasteners and joints and produce high-strength steel, aluminum, magnesium and resin composites structural elements. It is common to hear targets of weight reduction of four to five hundred pounds per vehicle. Autonomous driving capabilities. New active driver assist systems (ADAS) features and technologies will need to be invented or matured to create reliable and safe autonomous driving capabilities in cars, trucks, CUVs and SUVs. While there are many issues and challenges to be ironed out, it is clear that the Federal and state governments, changing vehicle buyer demographics and public concern for consumer safety will drive the need for innovation. Public and private partnerships are also planning and developing facilities for developing autonomous vehicle technology. These initiatives are based on creation of special “mobility” campuses and even public roads where communications between vehicles (V2V), regional infrastructure (V2I as smart traffic signals, road surface sensors, etc.) and ultimately the Internet of Things will validate safety protocols.Also, investments and new ventures formed by traditional vehicle OEMs and ride-share disrupters will rapidly evolve as pilot programs and service offerings in target cities across North America, Europe and Asia are already launched and enjoying some success. Many of these companies have plans to leverage self-driving vehicles in dedicated future private fleets of vehicles.All of this economic energy and technology is creating opportunity for start-ups as well as global automotive suppliers. Competition is fierce. Among the automotive OEMs who...

Detroit’s Automakers, Sensing A Threat, Embrace Mobility

Detroit’s Automakers, Sensing A Threat, Embrace Mobility

May 17, 2016

By Dee-Ann Durbin, Manufacturing.net DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — For Detroit, the days of simply making cars are over. Automakers are facing multiple threats to their business from nimble tech firms like Apple and Uber. In response, carmakers are reinventing themselves as “mobility” companies that can accommodate all the different ways people get around. Already this year, General Motors Co. has announced a long-term alliance with ride-hailing company Lyft and started a car-sharing service called Maven. Ford created a technology-focused division based in Silicon Valley that will invest in promising transportation startups. It also launched FordPass, a smartphone app that helps users find parking or share their cars. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is partnering with Google to test self-driving software in 100 of its minivans. In congested and expensive cities, people are increasingly content to share cars or summon rides using their smartphones. In five years, 35 million people globally will be using car-sharing services, up from 5.8 million now, according to Boston Consulting Group. That means 550,000 fewer cars sold each year. Within another few decades, fleets of self-driving taxis could replace the need for personal car ownership altogether. Automakers that don’t adapt risk being supplanted by high-tech competitors. “We’re investing in future-proofing,” says Elena Ford, who led the development of FordPass and is the great-great-granddaughter of Ford’s founder. There are dangers. Making vehicles is complicated and expensive, and car companies have stumbled when they’ve taken on new businesses. GM bought software maker Electronic Data Systems Inc. in 1984 but sold it 12 years later. Ford owned Hertz rental cars but sold it a decade ago. Chrysler owned airplane-maker Gulfstream in the mid-1980s. In each case, the companies sold those businesses to refocus on car-making. There’s also the open question of whether drivers want automakers to do more than make cars. Ford CEO Mark Fields is confident they do. “It goes back to Henry Ford and one of his favorite quotes: ‘If I asked people what they wanted, they’d say they wanted a faster horse,'” Fields told The Associated Press. “We want to transform, fundamentally, the relationship between an automaker and a customer.” Fields adds that the financial case is too compelling to ignore. Global...

Are You Ready for an All-Plastic Automotive Engine?

Are You Ready for an All-Plastic Automotive Engine?

Feb 8, 2016

By Mark Shortt, Design-2-Part Magazine Veteran automotive innovator Matti Holtzberg is at it again, pushing the limits of automotive design in his attempt to build a race car engine that combines high performance with light weight.  Matti Holtzberg has been down this road before, beginning more than 30 years ago and continuing throughout the intervening years. He came to prominence as an automotive innovator in the 1980s, when he and his company, Composite Castings, designed and built what is widely considered to be the world’s first composite-based race car engine, the Polimotor. Armed with an intuitive understanding of the dynamics of the internal combustion engine, Holtzberg began the Polimotor project with a goal to replace as many engine components as he could with composite parts. “My objective was to try to learn as much as possible, combining my education in composites and mechanical engineering, to better understand the dynamics of it and what would be required of a composite or a plastic to replace metal,” said Holtzberg in a phone interview from West Palm Beach, Florida, where Composite Castings is located. “That was what I wanted to do from day one. I had made a lot of parts for Ford, and a friend of mine there said to me, ‘You’re making all these parts, Matti—why don’t you make the complete engine?’ So, I did, and used it as a basis to continue, over these years, to develop materials and processes for making engines.” The 4-cylinder Polimotor engine, relying on a mostly composite cylinder block and a variety of Torlon parts, raced two seasons in the International Motor Sports Association’s (IMSA) Camel GT series, once earning a third-place finish at Road America. Holtzberg called it “a huge technical success, but 28 years ahead of its time,” partly because in those days, an automotive engineer would have a hard time finding someone who could help build a nylon intake manifold—a problem that would lengthen production times. That wouldn’t be the case today, he said, because a much higher level of competence in plastics and composites technology is readily accessible. Automotive companies are looking at more materials and reinforced composites manufacturing processes than ever before, and materials developers...

U.S. Proposes Spending $4 Billion to Encourage Driverless Cars

U.S. Proposes Spending $4 Billion to Encourage Driverless Cars

Jan 19, 2016

By Mike Spector and Mike Ramsey, Wall Street Journal Obama administration aims to remove hurdles to making autonomous cars more widespread The Obama administration is proposing to spend nearly $4 billion in a decade to accelerate the acceptance of driverless cars on U.S. roads and curb traffic fatalities and travel delays. The proposal, which would require congressional approval, aims to have federal regulators work with auto makers and others to craft policies and rules for vehicles that can move without a driver at the wheel. It also would set up pilot programs for testing “connected vehicles” that talk to one another to avoid crashes under the $3.9 billion budget proposal. It isn’t clear whether or when any new regulations might be adopted. Regulators said they plan to issue guidance within six months on preferred performance characteristics and testing methods for driverless cars and collaborate with state officials on policies. A lack of clear guidance from regulators is among the barriers auto makers cite to allowing driverless cars to proliferate. Car makers prefer to have a clear national road map for approving autonomous vehicles rather than a state-by-state patchwork of rules. In Europe, the lack of a consensus has frustrated executives at Volvo Car Corp. and others developing the technologies. In Japan, industry officials are hoping for swift adoption by the government. U.S. regulators say they want to encourage technologies that can improve vehicle safety and reduce the nation’s more than 32,000 annual road fatalities. Driverless cars also hold out the hope of reducing pollution and more-efficient transportation, say government and industry officials. “Automated vehicles open up opportunities for saving time, saving lives and saving fuel,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said on Thursday at the North American International Auto Show, an annual auto industry get together in Detroit. In addition to improved safety, Mr. Foxx said driverless cars could ease the road-clogging effects of expected explosive population growth. “We are bullish on automated vehicles,” he said. Regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plan to exempt some autonomous vehicles from existing rules if they deem them to provide significant safety benefits. Car makers could be allowed to put 2,500 driverless cars on the road for...