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CAR | Let's Discuss This Week's Hot Topics

Michigan Business Network
April 26, 2021 6:00 PM

carsThis past week, the electric vehicle push focused heavily on significant battery plant announcements and their implications. We also saw vehicle safety appear yet again as a hot topic in the news with the Tesla crash in Texas this week. Additionally, we are monitoring the growing impact the microchip shortage and COVID-19 surges are having on the automotive industry. Lastly, this week we celebrated Earth Day and highlighted the importance of continued conversations surrounding sustainability in the industry and beyond.
If you missed my previous Hot Topics email, you can read it here.

We would love to hear from you and welcome your questions at any time. If you're interested in sharing your thoughts with us on hot topics, or if you would like to ask us a research question, please reach out to Katie Ramsburgh.

Hot Topics of 4/19/2021 - 4/23/2021

Battery Plants

My thoughts:

Clearly, to meet the climate goals stated by corporations and the Biden administration, we need to have more batteries produced to meet vehicle production plans.  And as supply chain woes continue and have the potential to expand to other components globally, it is clear that the US needs to produce more batteries.  Additionally, we should consider the circular economy and design these plants holistically by including a recycling facility.  

Beyond this, it was good to see SK and LG reach a settlement. Most likely, SK will change its design as quickly as possible to avoid the royalty payment.  It will be interesting to watch as batteries become commodities how much competition amongst the battery companies will remain.  The customer won’t care what the battery “brand” of their product is, so once we hit the right $/KW-hour, will it even matter?

Tesla Crashes and Vehicle Safety

My thoughts:

The Tesla crash this week has prompted a lot of discussion about the following topics:

  1. Do customers understand the actual capabilities of their “pilot” systems, and is it explained well enough to them?
  2. Are the automakers using the proper nomenclature for these systems to not make the customers believe their vehicle can do something that it really can’t?
  3. After using these systems regardless of their name, do customers relax too much and trust too much?
  4. Do the automakers have the proper protocols in place to be certain the customer is alert, engaged, and ready to take over immediately?
  5. Do the automakers have the proper backup systems and redundancies should the customer be disengaged, or should there be a malfunction of the feature?
  6. Should more regulations/policies/standards/guidelines be put in place for these systems – starting with ADAS and then through to HAV’s?
  7. How do we ensure the agencies that make these regulations, etc., move fast enough?These organizations take years to generate policies, but technology is moving far faster – this isn’t acceptable.

I don’t have the answers, but I believe we all must work together to solve these puzzle pieces.  The customer needs to understand their system lest we obtain unwanted results with dire consequences.

Microchip Shortage Updates

My thoughts:

The chip shortage is not going to go away quickly. Disruptions are being reported daily.  The chip shortage, along with the petrochemical and rubber shortages, indicates that we need to reconsider how we manage and study risk.  As we know, the Chinese have been buying up rubber for a year – what did their analysis of the industry show?  What metrics were they watching to move swiftly?

It’s obvious we shouldn’t return to keeping large volumes of inventory, but there may be certain components and/or raw materials we should have readily available.  The story becomes quite complex when we think about lean manufacturing with risk assessment.  SWOT analysis may hold the key here, but with these shortages and lessons learned, the industry should be rethinking how risk assessment is conducted and what parameters to study.

COVID-19 Production and Return-to-Work Impact

My thoughts:

Michigan has been surging, but thankfully, it appears this week our numbers began to go down.  50% of the US population now has at least one dose of the vaccine, and this bodes well for herd immunity, but we have a gap to fill.  Even with the vaccine readily available, we have a significant number of folks who are choosing not to vaccinate. In the US., we all must respect the personal choice and decision of others, knowing it may cause the pandemic to last longer.  In the meantime, companies are responding appropriately and keeping non-essential workers out of the workplace.  I don’t expect this will change until late summer or fall.  And even after that, hybrid conditions will rule.

Earth Day 2021

My thoughts:

This Earth Day was one of the best Earth Days in the US for several years.  We have rejoined the Paris accords, and the industry is moving forward as never seen before to produce zero-emission vehicles.  We have seen several automakers come forward with clear dates about their net-zero carbon footprint plans.  Not only automotive but the energy sector, agriculture sector, and more are jumping forward to do a better job for the environment and the future of our earth.

I would like us all to consider what we can do better.  If you don’t recycle, start.  If you don’t compost, learn more about it.  If you eat meat, go meatless one day/week.  Take a look at the packaging you buy and see if there is a more sustainable product on the market -  I keep hearing about bar shampoo/conditioner but am not yet convinced.  Start small and see how good it makes you feel.  After living in Germany and Japan, recycling is part of my family’s DNA, and I’m proud to say that my recycling bin is about 4 – 5 times more full than my regular garbage every week.  But I’m sure I can do more as we all can.

Bailo-2 (2)Best Regards,

Carla Bailo
President and CEO
Center for Automotive Research

Upcoming virtual event:

WiM North 2021

June 23, 2021 - June 24, 2021  |  8:00 AM - 5:00 PM ET

WiM North is a regional conference for manufacturing professionals who are navigating the way through their manufacturing careers—whether it be in production, the C-Suite, or anywhere in between. This annual conference, produced by the Women in Manufacturing Association (WiM), offers attendees based in the northern region of the US with:

  • Unique and interactive opportunities, allowing participants to gain access to key industry content shared by regional thought leaders
  • Opportunity to engage in professional and personal-based breakout tracks with timely topics
  • Get a step ahead by participating in a one-on-one career coaching session (included in the conference registration)
  • Develop meaningful connections with peers in the northern states, including Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and more!

As a friend of CAR, you can receive a discounted rate to register for WiM North! Use promo code CAR21 at checkout to receive 20% off your registration.


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