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Navigating Automotive Industry Challenges

The automotive landscape is facing changes on the horizon. These changes are largely in response to government mandates that encourage electrification, but also due to the innovative spirit of some automakers like Tesla and Rivian. The rise of electric vehicles (EVs) could usher in a new era for the automotive industry, introducing both challenges and opportunities in manufacturing, maintenance and more.

Everyone from consumers to automotive mechanics might wonder—what does the future hold? Will EVs make traditional cars obsolete? While EVs seem like an urgent development, there are 1.4 billion internal combustion engines worldwide as of January 2023, and that number is expected to grow through 2050. EV adoption remains a cost-prohibitive goal that may take decades to achieve. In the meantime, motorists will continue to drive gasoline-powered vehicles and rely on mechanics to maintain and repair them.

Let’s take a look at how the automotive industry has evolved and consider some challenges it faces in bringing EVs to market.

A Brief History of Auto Industry Trends

Since it began in the late 19th century, the automotive industry has been in a constant state of evolution. Automobiles began as gasoline-powered vehicles and were considered a luxury only the wealthiest individuals could afford. However, Henry Ford brought cars to a mass market with his assembly line method, which cut the price and made them accessible to more people.

Over the decades, the automotive industry advanced significantly with safety regulations—like seat belts and crash test mandates—as well as efforts to reduce harmful emissions. Most recently, the global shift has created a push for electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles (self-driving cars). Government policy in places like the UK, France, Germany and the United States encourage the transition from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles, with many acknowledging this shift will be gradual and expensive.

Manufacturing Challenges

An assembly line worker at an automotive plant uses a checklist to monitor safety

EVs require complex electrical systems and software that traditional assembly lines aren’t designed to accommodate. Manufacturers will need to modify combustion engine assembly lines to meet EV manufacturing requirements and demand. This transition involves integrating new technologies and investing in new manufacturing equipment.

Additionally, manufacturers must re-evaluate their supply chains and seek suppliers for batteries, sensors and special components. As the automotive manufacturing landscape becomes more technologically sophisticated, innovation poses challenges in terms of costs and assembly line adaptation.

Maintenance Challenges

Maintenance practices for vehicles will evolve with the arrival of electric and self-driving technologies. Electric vehicles have fewer moving parts compared to traditional cars and can require less frequent maintenance. However, the maintenance they do need tends to be more specialized, sophisticated and time-consuming.

Material Sourcing Challenges

A mechanic wearing gloves uses a wrench to make an adjustment under the hood of a car

Benefits of electric vehicles include zero emissions at the point of use. In this way, EVs could help to reduce the industry’s environmental footprint. Despite these potential gains, EVs pose a challenge to the automotive industry because they require battery production and responsible material sourcing that could negatively impact the environment unless carefully considered.

What Does This Mean for Auto Mechanics?

EVs won’t change the automotive trade overnight. Traditional internal combustion engines still dominate roadways, from passenger cars and buses to delivery trucks and more. Skilled, hands-on mechanics play a critical role in the automotive industry today and will continue to for decades to come.

If you’re passionate about combustion engines and car maintenance, a future in automotive service repair could be a good fit! Apex offers courses through out Automotive Service & Repair program. Classes are starting soon. Explore the program and contact us with your questions today.

*Apex Technical School and its instructors are licensed by the State of New York, New York State Education Department.

Disclaimer: Apex Technical School provides training for entry-level jobs. Not everything you may read about the industry is covered in our training programs.