Manufacturing and the Automated-Automotive Future

Manufacturing and the Automated-Automotive Future
By: Brian K. Hicks

Obama era regulatory requirements for vehicle to vehicle (V2V) technology were placed on hold by the Trump Administration this week, although auto manufacturers continue major advances to implement the technology in new models, with no sign of retrenchment. Communities in Ohio, like Marysville and Dublin, as well as others in Michigan are actively installing traffic equipment capable of communicating with vehicles to improve safety and information dispersion. This reality begs the question as the auto industry moves toward autonomous vehicles: What will change for automotive manufacturers? The Ohio House Committee on Transportation and Public Safety met this week for the second time to examine this very question.

Technology once used in other transportation sectors is finding a new home in advanced vehicles along Ohio’s highways. Most car accidents in the United States are caused by driver error. New onboard vehicle technology like radar, ultrasonic sensors, innovative cameras, and advanced mapping technology are all being harnessed to ensure that cars can navigate the world while keeping people safe and traffic flowing. Additionally, artificial intelligence will continue to play a larger role in the automotive landscape as vehicles are forced to make predictive decisions in real time.

The increased prevalence of these technologies will have multiple effects on manufacturers. Though it’s unclear whether more or fewer automobiles will be needed on roads, what is clear is that cars and trucks must still be produced to both keep up with demand for newly autonomous vehicles, and to replace aging vehicles at the end of their natural life cycles. For now that’s good news for labor and parts suppliers across the Midwest.

General Motors (GM) reported to Ohio House Committee members this week that it is working on streamlining the manufacturing of automobiles equipped with more and more technology to be fully autonomous for a pilot program fleet. GM is also testing a new ride sharing platform that would theoretically help in addressing the universal issue of automobile depreciation. Industry experts also testified that a way to help offset the high price of owning an autonomous vehicle may be to harness a ride sharing platform where a vehicle can be utilized by others when the owner has no need for it. For example, an autonomous vehicle could drop its owner off at work, then leave to ferry other people to other destinations throughout the day. Although hypothetical, the viability of a program like this will surely be investigated.

Automotive manufacturing will need to adjust accordingly with greater demands for advanced technologies. Technology companies are entering the automotive world, and this may dramatically effect both traditional automotive OEMs and Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers. Google and Uber are just two common examples of billion dollar tech giants leveraging their power and wealth to enter the market, but many others are following. Cross-market partnerships are forming between tech companies and automakers, and resources and personnel are being exchanged.

Evolving state and federal regulatory environments and other challenges for automakers are bound to impact the market as it moves towards a new generation of vehicles. As they emerge, Hicks Partners will remain informed. If you have concerns about how autonomous, semi-autonomous and the next generation of smart vehicles will affect your business, or if you would like to be updated on the status of future legislative hearings, contact us at

Brian Hicks is President & CEO of Hicks Partners. Hicks Partners has been at the heart of shaping public policy in both Ohio and D.C. for years, and our knowledge of government allows us to help companies achieve maximum results.