The 2011 Chicago Auto Show (CAS) boasted a 10 percent year-over-year increase in attendance. Local dealerships hope a heightened interest in a recovering auto industry will translate into a continuation of increases in monthly sales. Of course, lots of people are trying to figure out what will drive the market.Read More
Electrification of the motor vehicle is an area of much increased R&D activity of late. The popularity of new powertrain technology will only grow. Market leaders will be those companies that have their fingers on the pulse of consumer trends and behavior.
- Strong consumer demand and the need for environmentally friendly vehicles with low emissions have resulted in tremendous innovation and advance in powertrain technology.
- Differing infrastructures and consumer needs around the world will require a portfolio of vehicle solutions. Successful auto companies will be those best able to accommodate the varied needs and preferences of their global customers.
- In a recent survey, over 10% of US drivers, which equates to approximately 20 million drivers, said they would consider purchasing a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle. Even if only a small portion of the 10% are serious, there would still be enough demand to sell out the 2010 and 2011 production runs of the major and new manufacturers.
- Some of the biggest challenges for advancing the popularity of new powertrain technologies from the niche into the mainstream are access to charging stations, battery driving range and vehicle costs.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is preparing for Monday’s conference on the future of the auto industry (After the Perfect Storm). The meeting will focus on factors shaping the competitiveness of carmakers during the next decade. Four factors will receive attention: the existing uncertainty regarding engine technology, the need for flexible production systems, the extent to which carmakers need to globally integrate their product strategy, and the importance of successfully managing the supply chain.
I recently provided a client with an analysis of auto trends in the US. The ability to successfully market new powertrains will be key. Ten years down the road, who will develop the powertrain that carries the brand identication comparable to “She’s Real Fine My 409”?
I’ve been following the automotive industry for several years. Recently it’s become clear to me that the growth of hybrids will drive demand for new technologies. At last week’s SCIP meeting in Milwaukee, I heard a great discussion that helped me get a better fix on some of these trends.
By 2015, the supply of lithium-ion batteries will outweigh demand by about 62 percent according to Mary Ann Wright, manager of advanced auto batteries for Johnson Controls. Some industry analysts see a supply squeeze in the coming years as demand from electric vehicles heats up. Where do these predictions come from? How does the organization use environmental scanning to make better decisions?
The panelists were from Rockwell Automation and Johnson Controls. Here are my take-aways…
- It is important to build market intelligence expertise within a manufacturing company. Operatives in regions around the globe can provide the best information. Data purchased from external sources is suspect. Battery forecasts are “all over the place.”
- Turning information into intelligence is like putting together a puzzle. Listen to both the sales force and the plant manager. Engage the industry expert and converse with the chatty one on the airplane. Trade shows aren’t the best place to learn something new but they can validate what you already know.
- Everyone is focused on China and emerging markets. Of course all industry players trying to protect their share must be prepared to take on new competitors selling cheaper products. It’s tough to figure out what’s going on when there is no infrastructure in place to gather market data. Language barriers exist within the country as well as outside. Patent protection is suspect.
I left the meeting thinking that there are collaborative research opportunities with manufacturers trying to provide products to support the hybrid revolution.