Motor industry faces production revolution

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Shared mobility and automation are expected to drive a revolution in the automotive industry workforce and production by 2030, according to a study by PwC’s Strategy& consultancy entitled: “Transforming vehicle production: How shared mobility and automation will revolutionise the auto industry by 2030”.

It predicts that vehicle production will split between mass-market, largely no-frills “cars on demand” that will be rented journey-by-journey and more customised vehicles for those who still want to drive, or be driven in, their own vehicle.

Standardised, shared vehicles, used simply to get from A to B, will account for at least 30 per cent of the market in Europe.

PwC reckons this will require OEMs to develop two distinct types of factory. The first will be focused on standardised, networked ‘plug and play’ vehicles aimed at young, urban drivers. The second ‘flex champion’ model will produce customised vehicles for a range of consumers, akin to today’s luxury prestige market.

The study expects this change to alter the current workforce as robots take on a greater share of the work, on both assembly lines and in the R&D function.

The number of shop-floor logistics roles will be reduced by around 60 per cent, partially because humans will be replaced by autonomously guided vehicles.

The number of data engineers required will almost double in some types of plants, and increase by 80 per cent in others, while the number of software engineers needed will rise by as much as 90 per cent.

“The auto industry has not substantially altered its model since Ford’s assembly lines were introduced over a century ago,” said Heiko Weber, partner in PwC Strategy& Germany. “Yet we expect to see many of these changes to gather pace by 2021.”

The study also suggests that the pace of change will accelerate in other areas, with the time between R&D and production to shrink to two years, compared to 3-5 years today. There will also be growing competition to OEMs from technology companies who will be able to provide mobility-as-service solutions directly to consumers.

At the same time, there will be growing pressure on manufacturers to create more cost-efficient production processes to accommodate an increasingly diverse range of vehicles and designs.

“The auto industry is on the brink of a revolution where data management and the ability to adapt will be essential to survival,’ says Weber.

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