Automotive Industry Steers Toward the Future

As the freight forwarding market grows, here’s how the automotive sector is evolving, according to Thomasnet.

1. More reshoring and nearshoring. To mitigate supply chain disruptions and the inflationary impact on the cost of goods, many automotive manufacturers are looking to bring production operations back to the United States or closer to their customers.

2. Investing in data analytics. Respondents to a 2022 Deloitte transport industry report say that adopting a more robust approach to data management is increasingly critical. To achieve this improved transparency, many automotive companies are leveraging the expertise of startups and cloud services providers rather than hiring in-house data scientists.

3. A rise in electric vehicles (EVs) and autonomous vehicles (AVs). Players in the automotive industry are investing in EVs and AVs to manage costs, drive sustainability, address driver shortages, gain real-time insights, and improve brand reputation.

4. Cross-company collaboration. Automotive organizations are implementing products and technologies to transform day-to-day operations. For example, the Internet of Things enables real-time monitoring of inventory and shipments, machine learning helps with route optimization, and blockchain improves transparency for the end customer.

To reap the full benefits of these technologies, organizations must share things like shipping schedules or warehouse space with competitors more readily than in the past.

Winging It

Flying cars were a staple of The Jetsons cartoons, but are they practical in the real world?

The multi-billion-dollar industry needed to make flying cars a reality has massive potential to solve societal problems and develop a new revenue stream for the United States and other economies, finds new research published in Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, an INFORMS journal.

Researchers say it’s one thing to have vehicles capable of “Urban Aerial Mobility (UAM),” and quite another to make the societal changes needed for normal use of UAMs.

“Technologies already exist to build and fly the kinds of vehicles that could ferry people throughout urban areas as part of a normal routine,” says Vikrant Vaze, a professor in the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth, which conducted the survey along with MIT and Tsinghua University.

“But the big challenges center on conceiving and creating the kind of transportation infrastructure, systems, and protocols that would enable the safe and smooth transition to urban aerial mobility,” he adds.

The study points to cities, operators, and agencies—such as New Zealand, Singapore, NASA, and several airlines—that are already investing heavily in UAM to develop electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing vehicles (eVTOL) or flying cars, UAM systems, and networks.

“We will need to establish flying lanes and ‘roads’ not far different from today’s transportation systems built around paved roads on land, ocean shipping lanes, or air corridors,” says Vaze.

Rolls-Royce EV Hits it Rich

All-electric vehicles (EVs) represent a relatively small share of the overall car market. Concerns over battery ranges and relatively high prices continue to limit their broader appeal.

Electric vehicle prices, however, likely don’t matter much to buyers who inundated Rolls-Royce with orders for its debut EV, which comes with a $400,000 price tag.

The British car company unveiled a prototype of the vehicle in summer 2022, and production is set to get underway this year.
The Spectre (pictured) seats four and can travel 260 miles on a charge. It can go from zero to 60 in 4.4 seconds with 577 horsepower and 664 foot-pounds of torque.

Rolls-Royce plans to phase out its internal-combustion vehicles this decade and transition to entirely electric vehicles by 2030. Initial demand for the Spectre could force the company to alter its production plans in order to meet it, according to company executives.

GM Shifts to Chatbots

ChatGPT is “going to be in everything,” says Scott Miller, vice president of General Motors.

To that end, the automaker is reportedly working on a new virtual assistant for its vehicles powered by advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technology. GM could implement chatbot-type technologies into its cars in coming years under an existing partnership with Microsoft, according to Reuters.

GM’s virtual assistant research features the same AI models as ChatGPT, reports Semafor. An advanced virtual assistant could quickly provide answers ordinarily found in vehicle owners’ manuals or help drivers with routine tasks, such as checking their schedules or opening garage doors.

Tire Pressure

As part of a broader initiative to accelerate the use of sustainable technologies in the NTT Indycar Series, tire maker Bridgestone developed Firestone Firehawk race tires made with guayule natural rubber grown and extracted at the company’s guayule R&D facilities in Arizona. The company debuted the tires during the Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge on May 27, 2023.

Bridgestone aims to commercialize the use of sustainable guayule natural rubber in tires by 2030, creating a promising new domestic industry.

  • Guayule is a heat-tolerant, woody shrub that thrives in America’s desert southwest.
  • The shrub can be farmed with existing row crop equipment, saving costs for farmers.
  • Guayule creates up to 10 new industrial processing jobs per 1,000 acres of harvested crop.
  • Guayule rubber has the potential to have a lasting economic impact, Bridgestone says, while reducing the energy and other environmental impacts associated with the transportation of rubber sourced overseas.