Mobility manufacturing: breathing life into the mobility sector

Disruption has been a theme across the automotive industry in recent years with new companies, concepts and competition changing the status quo.

But as mobility shifts to everything from robo taxis, car-sharing, autonomous vehicles, and scooter services, startups and longtime players will have equal footing if they stay nimble, according to a panel during the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the last one to be held in January.

Automotive manufacturers and suppliers must be willing to cannibalize their business models, look to consumer needs as guidelines for investments and be flexible to speed up their design and production cycles to meet people’s needs, panelists said.

Mobility advances depend on companies educating drivers, pedestrians and communities on the safety and efficiencies of connected and autonomous vehicles, said Jan Schulte, president and CEO  of Troy-based EDAG, a firm that works with OEMs and suppliers to integrate new systems into vehicles.

People also need to shift from owning a vehicle outright to sharing them and car manufacturers need to look to ways to lower costs, redefine their platforms and be willing to create different vehicles for different markets, Schulte said.

Companies that make mobility more affordable are likely to be the winners as well as those who are willing to cannibalize or transform their products, said Sam Abuelsamid a senior research analyst for Navigant Research's Transportation Innovations service, where he leads the Mobility Solution team. One example of how this might work is how Apple transformed its overwhelming success with the iPod into the money-making monster that is the iPhone.

“That’s the sort of thing the auto industry is hoping to do to get into something where they can leverage this new technology to get recurring revenue streams through a services model before someone else does it,” Abuelsamid said.

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