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

Michigan Business Network
May 11, 2021 2:00 PM

carsThis past week, the national conversation on electric vehicles concentrated on improving charging infrastructure and its challenges. We are continuing to track microchip shortage updates, including how they may or may not have impacted Q1 sales for OEMs and suppliers. We also saw some interesting news in the autonomous vehicle space with large deals and exciting announcements.
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 5/3/2021 - 5/7/2021

EV Charging Infrastructure

My thoughts:

Without charging infrastructure that meets the needs of all parties (personal and commercial vehicles), the EV rollout will happen much slower than most of the government and industry would like. This rollout can’t occur without detailed studies of where to locate and what type of charger is needed to meet the consumer demand. We don’t need to have infrastructure everywhere all at once, but instead, we need it where concentrations of EV usage will grow first.  Infrastructure can then be extended outwards as demand increases. A strategic rollout allows investment to be spread over time. As our experience with the systems, workforce required and more to be learned and applied, each iteration will become better and more in tune with society's needs. Beyond this, we must be savvy about the business models for charging infrastructure to make sure it is easy to use and seamless to pay. Consumer education will be critical as the charging industry grows. Equity of usage will be very important, remembering that many US citizens do not have a credit card or bank account…again, let’s be smart.

Microchip Updates and Plant Shutdowns

My thoughts:

Everyone is likely tired of fighting this fire every day and/or tired of hearing the same news played over and over, BUT I was thrilled to see the company’s profit reports this past week despite the semiconductor headwinds.  Beyond this, it was interesting to hear some companies put out a profit warning for Q2 and beyond and some not.  Mary Barra, in her comments, made it clear that her team is on every minute of every day to secure and balance supply to avoid as much disruption as possible.  Supply Chain management is now the critical link in many companies, and, quite frankly, this group of talented people probably have never received the adequate praise they deserve for the critical role they provide. This clearly won’t be the case any longer. Supply chain talent demonstrating resilience will be in demand as never before. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more colleges offering degrees or certificates in this critical talent pool.

Q1 Earnings

My thoughts:

Although I mentioned this above, I’ll take a different approach here. The current situation is a supply and demand “perfect equation.” Limited supply and strong customer demand equal high prices, no haggling for discounts, and larger profits. SAAR at 18.1 also helped this a great deal. The impact of the shutdowns will be prevalent in the next quarter and on into the rest of the year. It remains to be seen how many customers will “take what’s on the lot” or decide “to wait it out.” Even though the vehicle is a mode of transit, there is still a “love affair” with personal vehicle ownership. If a customer “settles” for something they really didn’t want, this will come to play in future JD Power scores, which no automaker wants to see happen. There might be a double-edged sword in play here; time will tell.

Connected and Automated Vehicles My thoughts:

There are two key points in this week’s news: 1) Standards revisions and clarity and 2) Partnerships, mergers, and acquisitions. 
  1. Much dialogue has ensued after the Tesla incident in Texas, and rightfully so. Customers need to be crystal clear about what their car can and can’t do and shouldn’t be confused by the terminology. Beyond making this clear in the SAE standards for the automotive community, the technologies utilized in the vehicle designed to be sure that the customer is engaged need to be quickly studied and standards considered.T here has been doubt and a lot of discussion over the past few years about IF the customer can really EVER be a fallback as they become accustomed to their vehicle's capabilities. Many of you who know me also know that I believe they can’t and shouldn’t. The redundancies and the car’s knowledge about the driver must supersede any requirement for the driver.This technology needs to be analyzed across the industry and standards established as soon as possible – we are already too late.
  2. It costs a lot in R&D to develop AVs, and, as such, the smaller players with reasonable IP will continue to be acquired by larger companies in need of that IP. If we ever want to achieve the cost levels needed to penetrate the market with AVs, these mergers are needed.Talent needs to be combined as well to have all the different skillsets required to make autonomy a reality.

Bailo-2 (2)Best Regards,

Carla Bailo
President and CEO
Center for Automotive Research

Upcoming virtual events:

Book launch: The Road Forward

May 19, 2021  |  5:00 PM - 6:30 PM ET

Join Inforum and Inforum AutomotiveNEXT in recognizing the women whose wisdom is shared in the soon-to-be-published book, The Road Forward: More Conversations with Top Women in the Automotive Industry, published by SAE in collaboration with Inforum and the Center for Automotive Research. In this virtual event, we will hear from Sue Bai, chief engineer, division director, Honda Research Institute; Donna Bell, director, AV & mobility strategy, Ford Motor Co.; Mamatha Chamarthi, chief digital officer, Stellantis; Darci Marcum, plant director, General Motors Co.; and Kristen Tabar, group vehicle development & engineering, Toyota.

Following the panel discussion, you will be able to network with women featured in the book in a relaxed and intimate breakout room format.


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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