Like every other industry across the globe, the Automotive Industry has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and its effects are being felt in every corner of the industry. 2020 saw the industry faced with low demand, and therefore low sales. As the industry enters the new year, forecasts predict that it will experience increased demand and sales that will help with growth and recovery, but it is also expected to face a changing and evolving landscape that moves the industry as a whole into a new era.
The world as a whole has been becoming progressively more digitalized, and the pandemic has created an even greater need for digital methods of business and communication. The Automotive Industry, which had already been exploring ways to increase digitalization across its sectors, is expected to follow suit this year. This is why it should be no surprised that autonomous cars operated by artificial intelligence are expected to take control of the industry. There are a limited number of autonomous cars currently on the road, but well-known companies like Tesla and Google are exploring their use and making them more reliable. Should people begin to see these more frequently and become more comfortable with them, it is very likely that autonomous cars will take a stronghold on the industry, making travel easier than ever.
New ways of working will also influence the Automotive Industry in 2021. As the virus began to circulate globally, many automotive plants were forced to shut down at a moment’s notice, and because of concerns of how the virus is transmitted, having employees working in close proximity was not an option. But, certain companies found ways to resume work remotely, even in limited capacities, and one company even opened and began operations in a facility entirely remotely. These developments will undoubtedly have companies rethinking the structure of the workforce, with new options of remote working emerging, as well as investigations into machinery that could replace a human. These implementations will likely occur alongside the rise of regional leadership, because companies are finding it harder to coordinate between global locations more and more.
With environmental concerns on the rise, 2021 will also likely see a rise in electric cars. At speeds not originally anticipated, customers are moving towards hybrids and electric cars. Automotive manufacturing companies know that they will have to work hard to make the switch to machinery and technology capable of manufacturing these kinds of cars, which could put these companies under a lot of strain, but with how quickly the companies adapted to the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is starting to look like it will not be as hard to adapt to these new trends and demands as previously thought.
With demand increasing for both new vehicles and spare products, companies are finding it challenging to streamline supply chains while optimizing production. But, automotive manufacturers are starting to utilize 3D Printing technologies. Not only is it useful in producing necessary parts and tools on-demand, but it is helpful in prototyping designs to help with visualization and future planning. Especially since the industry is going through frequent change, it is not always cost-effective to stock up on certain parts that may become obsolete sooner than expected or hoped.
These exciting trends are shaping 2021 up to be an exciting year filled with a lot of growth and development that likely will change the landscape of the Automotive Industry going forward. Sales are forecasted to be strong, with light vehicle sales expected to hit 15.6 million in the United States alone. But, these numbers are expected to be about 8% lower from what was seen in 2019. Experts believe that it will take until 2022 for sales to exceed the pre-pandemic levels, given that widespread lockdowns do not go into effect again. But, with these new developments taking hold, it seems like the Automotive Industry is in for an exciting few years no matter what!