Shared Mobility And Automation Will Reshape The Auto Industry By 2030

Shared mobility and automation are expected to drive a revolution in the automotive industry workforce and production by 2030, according to a new study by PwC’s Strategy&consultancy.

Transforming vehicle production by 2030: How shared mobility and automation will revolutionize the auto industry predicts substantial changes for manufacturers and consumers. Vehicle production will have split between mass-market, largely no-frills “cars on demand” that will be rented journey-by-journey and more customized vehicles for those who still want to drive, or be driven in, their own vehicle.

PwC’s Strategy& expects that this will require original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to rapidly 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 radically alter the current workforce as robots take on a greater share of the work, on both assembly lines and in the R&D function. It is estimated that between 40-60% of today’s workers with contemporary skills will be needed on the shop floor, although the required number of data engineers and software engineers may rise by 90%.

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

“OEMs must start now to build the workforce they will need over the next decade, both by hiring people with the right skills and by retaining and retraining their existing employees. By 2030 the number of data engineers will almost double in the flexible plant and increase by 80 percent in the plug-and- play plant, while the number of software engineers needed will rise by 90 percent, and 75 percent, respectively,” Weber says.

The study also notes 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 far 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. “OEMs should act now, making the right choices for their production models and future workforce,” he adds.

Vilaiporn Taweelappontong, PwC Thailand’s Consulting Lead Partner, says that Thailand’s role as one of the world’s most important automotive hubs has prompted car manufacturers and traditional OEMs to embrace and prepare for changing forces in the industry.

They’re receptive to the future of mobility, including the development of connected cars and customised vehicles that meet customer needs. The market for shared on-demand vehicles or Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) are increasingly accepted and tested, she said.

“Today, the automotive industry is changing. Technologies like electric vehicles, self-driving vehicles and mobility service platforms are creating new entrants and opening doors for automotive makers themselves to offer a range of ride sharing and car sharing services, a growing trend we’ve already seen in the European market.

“I believe that Thailand’s automotive industry has many strengths and is ready on many fronts. Still, our key challenge is the lack of highly skilled workers such as data engineers and robotic technicians. It’s also critical that we continue to invest in R&D to keep up with changing trends in the industry. We also need to be thinking about the necessary infrastructure, connectivity and well-thought-out traffic laws and regulations–including data privacy and security measures that are well designed to support tomorrow’s transportation.”