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Generation Y car buyers are willing to pay much more for technology than baby boomers, said Deloitte & Touche Global Automotive Practice Leader Joseph Vitale. (Terry Costlow photo)

Connected car, autonomy disruptions to ripple through supply chain

Many factors are making the next few years one of most disruptive eras the automotive industry has ever seen. Diverse dynamics such as connectivity and autonomy will transform the industry and impact companies throughout the supply chain.

A number of industry experts detailed a variety of ways that technology and demographics will have a transformative influence during the “State of the Supply Chain: An Analyst’s View” panel at 2016 SAE Convergence in Novi, MI.

Marc Winterhoff of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants highlighted four major trends that will dominate the industry over the next few years: shared mobility, connectivity, electrification and Level 5 autonomous driving. These changes will fuel solid growth until autonomous "robocabs" transform that segment of the shared-vehicle world.

“Even in this disruptive environment, good times are coming for the auto industry,” Winterhoff said. “Shipments will grow through 2025. Ride sharing will largely fade away by 2030 as robocabs take hold.”

Joseph Vitale of Deloitte & Touche LLP noted that demographics will have as much of a role in market changes as do shifting trends in vehicle technology. The firm’s surveys show that in the U.S., Generation Y vehicle buyers want the latest technology.

“They will pay as much as four times as much as baby boomers said they will pay,” Vitale said.

Changing demographics also could play a role in the emergence of autonomous vehicles. Aging baby boomers may utilize autonomous robocabs rather than drive.

“Key markets for autonomous vehicles are elderly and disabled people who are dissatisfied with depending on friends and family for rides,” said Glenn Mercer of Glenn Mercer Automotive LLC. “They have money and they don’t need to go far or go fast.”

Electrified powertrains will be a significant disruptor. Vitale noted that China’s regulators are mandating electrification as they address the country’s pollution problems. Winterhoff predicted that EVs will see evolutionary market penetration through 2025.

Around that time, robocabs—most of which will have all-electric propulsion—will start seeing solid growth. Although panelists all predicted that electrification will be a primary game-changer, their focus at Convergence wasn't strictly on plug-in vehicles.

“In the next three to five years, the biggest trends will be in the internal-combustion engine,” said Colin Langan of UBS Inc. “Many companies are developing 48-volt electrical systems, which could (extend the timeframe for) electric-vehicle adoption; 48-volt can provide 75% of the benefits of hybrids at about 25% of the cost.”

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