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Transforming Automotive

By Wilmer Zhou Senior Analyst, Manufacturing Technology, IHS Markit


A survey by IHS Markit examines changes in automotive manufacturing. What follows are the findings.


–22 percent of automotive manufacturers surveyed by IHS Markit had already adopted some transformative technologies in their companies;

–31 percent indicated transformative technologies are already used widely in their factories.

–23 percent of automotive manufacturers will be slower to adopt transformative technologies and have no current adoption or planned strategy due to some challenges.


Transformative technologies are reshaping the automotive manufacturing sector. Examples include industrial robots, artificial intelligence, cloud and anything-as-a-service (XaaS), virtualization and software, additive manufacturing, industrial internet of things (IIOT), and augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

A recent IHS Markit survey of 120 automotive executives revealed the following benefits and challenges they face, when implementing transformative technologies:


The survey results reveal a positive outlook for transformative technology adoption in automotive manufacturing, which is related to the ongoing and quick penetration of industrial robots, virtualization and software, connectivity, and physical automation.

According to the survey, “higher quality” was viewed as the most important benefit accrued from adopting transformative technologies in automotive manufacturing. The next most important benefits were “lower overall cost” and “shorter lead time to market.”

“Customized products” and “increased production line flexibility” – each with a similar number of responses – were not widely viewed as leading benefits of transformative technologies. It is interesting to note that “lower inventory” received the fewest responses.

Key Benefits by Region

This survey also explored regional similarities and differences among respondents in North America, Europe, and Asia. Two of the top three benefits of adopting transformative technology in all regions were “higher quality” and “shorter lead time/time to market,” which indicates companies in each region are pursuing these benefits, through transformative technology.

“Lower overall cost (material, labor and energy)” was a top-three benefit to adopting transformative technologies in all regions except those in Europe, which valued “increased production line flexibility” more highly.

On the other end of the value spectrum, “customized products” and “lower inventory” were two of the lowest-ranked categories in all four regions. “Higher throughput” was among the choices deemed less important in every region, except North America.


The survey also indicated that some companies are facing challenges, when adopting transformative technology in their factories. Among all of these challenges, “insufficient employee skills/knowledge” was the major bottleneck to digital transformation in automotive manufacturing, followed by “ROI uncertainty,” “unproventechnology,” and “business model.”

Key Challenges by Region

On a regional basis, “employee skills/knowledge” and “investment/cost too high” were two of the top three challenges to adopting transformative technologies in all four regions. “Business model” was one of the top three challenges in Europe and Asia, while and “ROI uncertainty” were listed in the top three in North America and the “others” category.

Among the three challenges ranked the lowest, “interoperability Issues” was ranked in the bottom three in all four regions. “Leadership unsupportive,” “immature products (SW, HW),” “unproven technology,” and “sufficient existing technology” were also not deemed to be major challenges.

Wilmer Zhou is senior analyst, manufacturing technology at IHS Markit

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