2017 Automotive Trends: The future will be rocky for auto companies unable to improve returns on capital (Strategy&)

"Innovative software developments may make tomorrow’s vehicles exceptionally expensive: OEMs and suppliers must earmark resources for acquiring new technology and recruiting experienced technical talent. Many of the new features going into cars require the expertise of software engineers, who by and large prefer the ostensibly more dynamic work environments of Silicon Valley startups to those of the automotive industry. As a result, some of the recent mergers and acquisitions in the automobile sector were undertaken to augment in-house technical knowledge and capabilities. For instance, German supplier ZF Group, which paid US$12.4 billion in 2015 to acquire TRW in order to expand into the electronic safety and connectivity market, took a 40 percent stake in vehicle radar supplier Ibeo Automotive Systems in 2016.
The rising cost of safety and environmental regulations is also a concern for the industry. In the U.S., potential regulatory relaxation under the new administration has stirred at least some hope that higher costs associated with tightened emissions standards might arrive more slowly or even be avoided. However, there is a question whether a change in federal U.S. regulations would make a significant difference because individual U.S. states — and the whole of Europe — can continue to push for stricter standards. In addition, the regulatory requirements in other parts of the world are quickly catching up to those in the more regulated countries. For instance, China now has emissions standards for large cities similar to Europe’s, with only a brief (one- or two-year) grace period for smaller cities. Moreover, the real environmental challenges that underlie these trends are not going away and will ultimately have to be confronted.”


Read the full article »