The Changing Face of Automotive Production

By Fabian Wanke

ARC Report Abstract

To paraphrase Stephen Elop, former CEO at Nokia: The advantages you enjoyed yesterday will be replaced by the trends of tomorrow.  While this applies for all industries, it is particularly relevant for participants in today’s global automotive industry. 

Thanks to digitalization and autonomous driving, cars will become much more flexible, while electrification will help them adapt better to urban environments.  Digitalization in general and cyber-physical systems in particular are driving major changes in automotive production.

Seamless data exchange between automakers, suppliers, dealers, and drivers will benefit all parties.  The constant data exchange creates a connection between the owner and the brand that endures throughout the vehicle’s lifecycle - from the first 3D digital model to the end of the vehicle’s useful service life (at which point an increasing percentage of its materials will be recycled for use in new vehicles and the cycle begins all over again). 

The key findings of the report include:

  • Future production concepts will be even more modular and flexible
  • Manufacturers are incorporating new materials and drivetrains into their vehicles to reduce weight and increase fuel efficiency
  • Lean Management and Industrie 4.0 have similar objectives
  • Vertical and horizontal integration will increase
  • Smart production is characterized by the ability to transform/adapt production via decentralized control systems
  • Human-assist systems have already been implemented successfully and will grow in importance
  • Use of robotics will increase, particularly use of so-called “cobots” that can work in close proximity to humans in final assembly
  • In addition to reducing scrap materials, 3D-printed components will make vehicles lighter and stronger and thus more fuel-efficient, driving increased use of additive manufacturing in automotive production



Table of Contents

  • Executive Overview
  • What’s Driving the Change in Production?
  • Available Approaches
  • Enablers for New Production Systems
  • Recommendations


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Keywords: Automotive Industry, Digitalization, Autonomous Driving, Lean Management, Industrie 4.0, Additive Manufacturing, ARC Advisory Group. 


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