Carla Bailo has worked in the automotive industry for 35 years, and has served at the helm of CAR since December 2017. Prior to joining CAR, she worked as assistant vice president for mobility research and business development at The Ohio State University; as senior vice president of research and development at Nissan North America; and as an engineer at General Motors. Bailo has a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, and a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Kettering University.
MetalForming: Carla, thank you for spending some time with MetalForming, and for sharing your perspectives on the current and future state of the automotive industry. How do you see the industry recovering in the aftermath of COVID-19?
Bailo: Output from most OEM facilities continues to ramp up, and, in fact, many of the full-sized-truck plants are back to three shifts. The impact of the pandemic was in some ways mitigated by initiatives taken by dealerships to continue to do business online, which helped to keep the industry afloat. At CAR, we expect a solid rebound over time, predicted on no serious rebound of COVID, although we can see supply issues arising for the most popular vehicle models.
For the automotive industry to rebound and thrive, we look for three clear factors:
Healthy workforce—OEMs and their supplier must put into practice measures to ensure worker safety, and workers must do their part, as well, to follow strict guidelines and work safely.
Healthy supply chain—The biggest risk here that we see at the moment is Mexico, where suppliers have experienced some interruptions in production, as well as plant closures.
Healthy demand—Customers must want new vehicles, and have the economic wherewithal to afford them.
Throughout the supply chain, the OEMs are helping Tier suppliers manage their cash-flow concerns, by accelerating payments of invoices, for example.
MetalForming: Where do you see the market for electric vehicles (EV) evolving, and what, if any, impact did the pandemic have on this market?
Bailo: This market segment fared much better than other automotive segments, as EV sales only dipped by about 18 percent, versus 23 percent for the overall market during the pandemic. Looking ahead, many factors favor accelerating the trend toward growing EV sales, including the cleaner air that resulted from fewer cars on the road during the shelter-in-place orders. This certainly plays to EVs. In addition, as the trend toward teleworking grows, EVs fit this new lifestyle trend perfectly.
MetalForming: How will an expanding EV market impact the supply chain, and the Tier metal formers in particular?
Bailo: Of course, the biggest impact will be on companies supplying combustion-engine parts, and components and subassemblies for exhaust systems and transmissions. However, there are new opportunities unique to EVs, such as battery boxes.
Some of the Tier One suppliers already have diversified their portfolios, looking toward the future, creating separate operating divisions to focus on the new technologies relevant to CAVs and mobility services. Delphi created Aptiv, for example, and Continental recently created its Advanced Driver Assistance Systems business unit.
As mobility-services technology continues to mature and as EVs begin to saturate the market, we’ll see consumers purchasing vehicles not so much for ride handling or powertrain performance, but for the experience. Technology from companies such as Amazon and Apple will play an important role, as will those that develop and manufacture interior automotive components.
MetalForming: Clearly, we’re in the midst of rapid change in the automotive industry―changes that will dramatically impact the supply chain. CAR’s upcoming Management Briefing Seminars (MBS), now transitioned to a virtual event, offers a terrific lineup of speakers and topics to help industry professionals understand the impact of COVID-19 on the industry, and gain perspective on the future of EVs and other industry trends. Tell us about MBS as a virtual event, and in particular how attendees will have opportunities to network—with each other and with the speakers?
As mobility-services technology continues to mature and as EVs begin to saturate the market, we’ll see consumers purchasing vehicles not so much for ride handling or powertrain performance, but for the experience.
Bailo: When we made the decision to convert the MBS 2020 program from a live event to an online virtual program, we transitioned the program from 2.5 to 2 days, and we shortened the length of each day to 6 hr. The event will be live online, and we also will record the sessions and post them online to the MBS platform for 30 days, and then to our CAR website for another 6 months.
Our virtual platform, in addition to hosting presentations, will have a virtual lobby, sponsor banners, and opportunities for attendees to set appointments and chat with exhibitors. We’ll also offer virtual networking “rooms” where attendees, speakers and others can gather and discuss particular subjects, or have one-on-one private discussions.
Finally, in addition to our MBS agenda, the platform also will host live events produced by our partners, including one by the American Centers for Mobility, and a virtual wine-tasting event hosted by PwC. Of course, this all depends on COVID-19 best-practice guidelines.
MetalForming: What should our readers, and members of the Precision Metalforming Association, expect to take away from attending MBS 2020?
Bailo: We’re offering a wide breadth of information at MBS 2020, very appropriate and valuable to managers and engineers throughout the automotive supply chain. Key portions of the virtual-event agenda are the panel discussions we have planned, including the forecasting panel where we’ll discuss the health of the economy and of the industry. Panelists include LMC Automotive executive Jeff Schuster, and Jonathan Smoke, director of economic industry insights for Cox Automotive.
We’re also bringing back the purchasing-panel discussion, which we haven’t had for a couple of years. We believe that this discussion is more critical than ever, and the panel will discuss relevant topics such as reshoring, supply chain, diversification, and even the evolution of lean manufacturing and just-in-time production. Among other agenda topics:
Electrification—not only the timeline for innovation, but we’ll also discuss the technology and address questions pertaining to battery improvement and use of new materials.
Mobility services/ride sharing—here we’ll discuss topics such as vehicle durability and manufacture of components to simplify vehicle maintenance.
Smart manufacturing and Industry 4.0—relevant topics for the automotive industry include use of virtual reality and robotics in the manufacturing environment, and the impact on jobs.
I certainly encourage anyone involved in the automotive industry to visit the MBS 2020 website, review the agenda and sign up to attend! MF