The 2022 Automotive Summit, Auto Industry TakeawaysMarch 22, 2022
The annual South Carolina Automotive Summit hosted by the SC Automotive Council is the pinnacle event for South Carolina’s automotive industry. It “draws C-level executives, managers and other top decision makers of OEMs, Tier 1, 2 and 3 suppliers, leading research institutions, test facilities, logistics and other service providers and organizations directly tied to the automotive industry.” The speakers, presentations, and attendees are forward thinking industry leaders which makes for phenomenal networking discussions. Charleston County Economic Development attends the summit annually to represent our existing industries and stay ahead of emerging industry trends. A few key topics of discussion surfaced throughout the Automotive Summit and can be distilled into Electrification/Autonomy/Innovation, The Global Economy, and Sustainability.
Electrification, Autonomy, Innovation
The automotive industry is in the midst of a revolution, and vehicle electrification is leading the charge. Automotive OEMS are placing big bets on electric vehicle platforms and new OEMS continue to surface. The key to BEV (battery electric vehicles) adoption will be infrastructure installments for recharging as well as increased battery capacity. Additional capacity for battery manufacturing will also be necessary to fulfill the increasing demand as just 25% of the manufacturing capacity currently exists globally. Thermal management systems for BEVs are improving which are contributing to improved efficiency and battery life, increasing range and power output. Amongst challenges, tech companies in the Silicon Valley continue to move the needle forward on all levels of autonomous driving. A few companies are developing eVTOLs (electric vertical take-off and landing aircrafts) which could someday transform the way we commute.
The Global Economy
The global demand for new and used vehicles remains strong, but we are reminded that the economy is indeed, global. Supply chain challenges in global shipping and microchip shortages are limiting supply which are contributing to higher sticker prices of new and used passenger vehicles. Conflict in the Ukraine is increasing prices at the pump, helping the case for electrification, but the larger concern for automotive manufacturers is that Ukraine is a global supplier of wiring harnesses. Meanwhile, Russia is a substantial producer of palladium gas that is part of the battery manufacturing process. Airfreight challenges may surface as no-fly zones are established so the delivery of critical automotive components could be affected. Manufacturers continue to increase cybersecurity efforts to stay ahead of potential global threats.
Bridgestone and the rest of the tire industry are undergoing sweeping changes in sustainability and innovating toward material circularity. Reusable tires, sustainable raw materials, and human health/ safety are the primary goals of the highly-regarded Tire Industry Project. The partners for the project are some of the largest tire manufacturers in the world, many of which are located right here in South Carolina. SustainSC is setting the table for companies to prioritize carbon neutrality, water quality, renewable energy and a circular economy. Their partnership with the State’s largest manufacturers promises to accelerate and highlight sustainability in manufacturing.
Join the conversation! What industry trends or developments are you witnessing that could affect South Carolina’s automotive industry?