Weekly News Review | 19 December 2016 | Automotive Purchasing and Supply Chain

Talking Point

2016: What a year!

2016 threw up some rather big surprises this year, and it seems as if the automotive industry took the biggest hit. Arguably, the biggest story of the year surrounded the Volkswagen Group, whose Dieselgate fiasco exploded into 2016. However, like any problem in the industry, VW has had to bounce back, forced to ramp-up its development of clean electric vehicles and it may now become a huge player in the segment - there’s always a silver lining. This brings us onto the rapid growth and development of EV’s this year, with most global brands introducing at least one electric variation or stand-alone model, from the improved BMW i3 to the innovative - and mind-boggling - Tesla Model X. EVs have fluttered around the industry for the past few years, but it is only now that we have truly seen a demand for these over internal combustion engines, mostly thanks to improved range, performance and a focus on technology. Over the next few years, low cost, mass produced EVs will take over our roads.

Through the development of EVs, 2016 has seen the arrival of the connected car era. Automakers are now flooding the markets with new models with advanced infotainment systems and even semi-autonomous features such as lane assist and automatic braking. However, due the slow adoption of this kind of technology in the past, OEMs have struggled to implement these innovations on their own. This has led to the intertwining of the automotive and software industries, with automakers teaming up with technology specialists, such as BMW & IBM, FCA & Google and Volvo & Uber all confirming joint ventures this year. This has fueled significant progress in 2016, although it has not been without its difficulties. Autonomous vehicles are now being tested on our roads, following deals with state authorities and governments around the world, which has led to a number of accidents and, in some cases, fatalities. I think that amongst many lessons learnt this year, the issues with aggressive expansion of autonomous technology tower above many; I think we are starting to learn that a vehicle is very different to a computer or phone. In addition to these malfunctions, automakers have also learnt the importance of cyber security following a number of vehicle hacks, putting consumers in serious danger.

Unfortunately, long-term issues such as Takata’s airbag crisis and the mayhem surrounding the port of Calais continued long into 2016, with further vehicle recalls around the world and disruptions to Europe’s supply chain. Takata continues to crumble under the global scandal, currently caught in takeover talks between rivals as dependent automakers search for a solution to this growing problem, hoping to come to a conclusion before the end of next year. In contrast, the problems in Calais have been suppressed after many months of carnage, yet there is still some way to go until normal operations can resume. Now we look towards the future, following a few months that have completely tipped the world on its head - I am of course speaking of Brexit and the US election. Now the automotive industry braces itself for a year of uncertainty, preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. 2016 has - as the buzzword of the year would best describe - disrupted our industry, for good and for bad, so it is vital that we come together through communication, visibility and innovation.

From the whole team at Three6Zero, we hope you have a great Christmas and we look forward to seeing you in the New Year!

Alex Kreetzer

Alex Kreetzer - News Editor

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