July 13, 2020

Volume X, Number 195

July 13, 2020

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Automotive Industry 2020 Hot Topic: Automation

As our recent post on the OESA’s 2019 Industry Outlook Panel highlighted, automation is currently a topic of heavy discussion in the auto industry. Although the auto industry has heavily relied on automation for years, it has remained a point of focus in industry discussion and analysis. In news surrounding the GM strike, various reports raised electric vehicles and automation as underlying issues. 

Automation is also a hot political topic. The Guardian reported that Brexit voters were more likely to live in areas “most threatened by the economic impact of automation.”  In the U.S., 2020 presidential candidates are debating automation and even writing opinion pieces on the topic.

So what are some of the predictions for 2020?  

E-Commerce and Urban Transportation: Automation is already having an impact on the way logistics companies handle increasing e-commerce orders, and this trend is expected to increase. Automation in logistics is also key to the surge in same-day delivery services. As we previously discussed on the blog, this rise in speedy delivery and reliance on e-commerce in turn affects, the vehicles on city streets and transportation plans.

More “Cobots”? No, “Cobot” is not the name of a new sci-fi movie character. Cobots are “collaborative robots” that work alongside humans in manufacturing and similar jobs. Companies in the automotive industry- including BMW, Nissan, Ford, and other locations incorporate cobots into their manufacturing plants, and tout improvement of worker safety as a result. At least one analyst predicts more cobots in the near future.

Advances in Autonomous Vehicles: This is a familiar and well-worn topic. However, news comes out nearly every day about the advances in automation, autonomous vehicles, and what is coming next. Just in the past several days there are reports of Daimler starting pilots of AV Mercedes taxis, analysis of the impact of AVs on airports, and consideration of the impact of safety concerns on AVs.

Automation and Electric Vehicles: Automation and electrification are often tied closely together. EVs are a rising segment of the global auto industry (PwC projects 46 percent of new car registrations in China will be for EVs in 2030). This means both topics will remain in the spotlight for 2020 (and beyond).

Although there are certainly other topics that will dominate auto news in 2020 (you may have heard about recent electric vehicle launches in the news), automation will remain a hot topic of discussion as it impacts.

© 2020 Foley & Lardner LLPNational Law Review, Volume IX, Number 337


About this Author

Lauren M. Loew business law attorney Foley and Larner Law Firm

Lauren M. Loew is a partner and litigation lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP and a member of the Business Litigation & Dispute Resolution Practice and Automotive Industry Team. Ms. Loew represents clients on matters including products liability defense, commercial contract disputes, supply chain management, and post-acquisition disputes. Ms. Loew represents clients in state and federal courts and arbitrations around the country. She is co-editor of Dashboard Insights, the Automotive Industry Team blog.