The Road Ahead
The automotive industry has undergone widespread changes in the past century. Gone are the days of Ford’s human assembly line, with robotic equipment now handling most of the factory assembly. These machines build vehicles faster than ever, increasing efficiency at every stage of production.
In recent years, the automotive supply chain has also been transformed by innovations in product sourcing. Instead of building components on site at assembly plants, OEMs now source parts from low wage countries with equally low shipping costs. While some OEMs — such as Chrysler, which can assemble a Jeep Wrangler in its Toledo, Ohio, factory in just 13 hours — do source from nearby facilities to increase production speed, the vast majority of manufacturers source their materials from abroad.
Over the next few years, the biggest innovation affecting the automotive industry will be the shift towards self-driving cars. As autonomous vehicles become more common, the automotive supply chain will need to balance investments in traditional building materials with the expected demands of driverless car technology — many of which are yet to be determined.
Despite these revolutions in the automotive industry, there’s no sign that cars will lose their top seat as the world’s preferred mode of transportation. In order to continue to meet this demand, auto manufacturers must keep pace with technological innovation in decades to come.