Continuous Innovations and Changing Trends in Automotive Industry

The global automotive industry is developing with increasing demand for new vehicles. Automotive parts are either Original Equipment or aftermarket parts. From last few years there was fluctuation in the growth of automotive industry. U.S., European and Asian markets are contributing to a large extent in the development of automotive industry. Due to globalization, the pressure on manufacturers, suppliers, and the dependent businesses has increased. The demand and preferences of customers are changing with improved technologies in automobile industries.

It’s a tough challenge for automobile industry to cope with ever-changing trends in the industry. Customers and manufactures are becoming more quality conscious. Market research reports determined new methods adopted by manufacturers for improving quality and productivity like assistance of computer design, production, and testing. Total Quality Management, Six-sigma, 5 S, Kaizen, just-in-time etc. Use of these techniques has increased durability of parts which results in less need for repairs. Globalization has increased the competition in market which increased cost pressures on producers. Many producers had cut-off prices by using advanced techniques of productions and offered quality products at low price to the customers. National focus on volatility and environmental movement has increased the pressure on automakers to opt for alternative energy resources like bio-fuels, hydrogen, etc. During the recession phase automotive industry had suffered a lot. The production and sales decreased with shift in trends. The number of automobile manufacturers is increasing every year.

In the present scenario the rates of internet savvy and techno savvy customers have increased. This in turn forced the global automobile industry to do technological innovations to survive in the market. Research reports have analyzed that in days to come the demand for hybrid vehicles may increase due to increase in fuel prices. Some growing trends in automotive industry are shift in demand from large vehicles to small vehicles and from high-consumption vehicles to fuel-efficient cars. New technologies were introduces in the industry like diesel hybrids, clean diesels, and hybrids, manufacturers became more customer centric. The challenges of automotive industry increased with emergence of globalization, new technology, change in customer demands and economic uncertainties. To overcome these challenges companies started investing more on research and development of existing technology.

This was done to modify engines and producing more fuel-efficient vehicles and machines so that customers can save cost of spending on fuel as well as to increase the sales, profitability and market share. Fuel efficient vehicles like power and battery vehicles came into existence with innovations in technology. Manufacturers adopted production techniques like mass production, lean production and craft production to get benefits if economies of cost and reduce cost of production per unit. Major innovations made by manufactures in product offerings were improved transmissions and engine modifications which improved the operation level of engines. Businesses have been making continuous changes in their production methods and technology in order to serve customer needs, meet customer expectations, improve productivity, increase sales, increase market share and in all to sustain in the market.

A Story for the Australian Automotive Industry

Introduction to the Topic

Australia is one of only a few countries with the capabilities to design cars from scratch and manufacture in significant volumes. Car sales in Australia are also an important factor of the Australian Automotive Industry and the Australian Economy in total.

The Australian Auto Industry (A.A.I. in short) can be divided into two interrelated sectors, the Production ( Manufacturing) sector and the Car Sales (or Import-Sales) sector, both equally important for the total performance of the A.A.I. On one hand, the Manufacturing sector refers to the market conditions under which Australian Manufacturing businesses compete, by producing vehicles and related products, with the main aim of maximizing profits. On the other hand, the Sales sector refers to the market conditions under which car representative sale businesses compete, by the sale of cars and related products, having the same aim with businesses within sector one.

It is very important to state the distinction between these two sectors within the A.A.I., as we will be talking about two different market structures, business strategies, competition conditions, e.t.c. In order to analyse these market structures it would be appropriate to develop two economic models, one for each A.A.I. sector.

1.1-Analyzing the Manufacturing Sector

There is only one market structure that can best describe the market conditions in the Manufacturing sector if A.A.I., this is Oligopoly. As there are only two organizations that produce cars in Australia, and these are Ford and Holden, the competition methods and pricing strategies are based between these two organizations. The following economic model shall help define the competition and economic conditions for the Australian Automotive Manufacturing market.

The first important characteristic of Oligopoly that needs to be stated is that prices between competitors tend to be “sticky”, which means that they change less frequently than any other market structure. This statement will be explained in more detail later on, when we will be developing the Game-Theory model, as it is a very important concept of competition. The second most important characteristic is that when prices do change, firms are likely to change their pricing policies together. These two characteristics can boost up competition within the market. Firms will either try to match rivals’ price changes or ignore them. This is depended on the Game-Theory that is explained bellow.

However, the recent market conditions for the Australian Automotive Industry and the actions of the Australian Government have worsen the competition conditions and possible pricing options available for firms in the market. The production and maintenance costs for a manufacturing business in Australia are already high and rising, mostly due to lack of economic resources and advance of technology. That is, as Holden and Ford try to compete each other, given that prices tend to be “sticky”, they are forced to focus on technological advantage and marketing. Both of these business sectors produce high costs. Furthermore, the Australian government has made it clear that is unwilling to further subsidize automotive organizations in the market. All these factors stated above produce a negative effect on the competitiveness of both firms. In other words, rising costs alongside with decreased revenue push firms in experiencing lower and decreasing levels of profitability.

Profitability and the level of competitiveness are highly interrelated in an oligopolistic market structure, being the two most important factors, alongside with product differentiation, in the competition policies that the firms follow. When we say that the level of competitiveness of a firm is very low, we mean that the firm cannot react effectively to any price changes or competition changes or even changes in production costs. This may leave the firm depended on its’ competitor’s pricing and competition actions, not being able to affect the market competitiveness at all. The firm is then exposed to external danger and can be pushed out of the market, or even worse to shut production and declare bankrupt.

1.2- The Game-Theory Model for Oligopoly

The Game Theory model is used to explain the pricing and competition policies of firms in an oligopolistic market structure. Furthermore, it can show the few different competition policies based on pricing that the two firms can follow, that is High and Low as stated above. All firms in this market structure follow a Game-Theory model, although it is surely more detailed than our example, in the process of trying to forecast competitors’ pricing and competition movements and also keep track of the competition levels in the market and market share. But how does this happen?

For example, let’s say that there are four different fields, each divided in half. These fields represent the pricing strategies that Holden and Ford may use in the process of competing each other. Field A and C represent a High-Pricing policy for Holden, while fields A and B represent a High-Pricing policy for Ford. Lastly, fields B and D represent a Low-Pricing policy for Holden, while fields C and D represent a Low-Pricing policy for Ford. When both firms decide to follow a High-Pricing policy they share a profit of, let’s say, $12 million. If Holden decided to move to a Low-Pricing policy it will experience a maximum of $15 million profit, while Ford’s profitability will fall to $6 million. The exact opposite may also occur, while if both firms decided to follow a Low-Pricing policy they would realize a maximum of $8 million of profit.

What we can identify from the above example is that firms in an oligopolistic competitive market rarely change their pricing policies because this may produce a negative effect on their profitability levels. However, Holden and Ford, being the only two firms in the Australian Automotive Industry, they will focus on competing through product differentiation and marketing. That is, they will try to compete by differentiating their products, for example by producing vehicles with different features, or even base their production on technological advantage. Marketing plays an important role here, as it is the main tool that delivers and connects the customer with product. For example, if Holden introduces a new driving technology that improves driving experience and safety and produces this technology alongside with a newly designed vehicle, it is quite likely that Holden will effectively differentiate its newly designed vehicle from a relative vehicle of Ford and lure more customers in the store. Holden may also use marketing techniques to deliver this technology to the public, in the form of knowledge; hence try to boost sales without changing its pricing policy. However, it is important to state that this new technology may produce higher production costs, if not evaluated properly; hence Holden can only rely in increasing its market share to gain greater profitability. The sales part, however, will be analyzed in more extend within the next chapter of this report.

The Game-Theory is not just a theory for the Automotive Industry in Australia, it’s a fact. It shows us that auto manufacturers in Australia have based their competition strategies on all the factors stated above and as much as they possibly can on pricing strategies. They may advertise that they have low prices, but in fact their prices are very stable. If we have a close look at Holden’s or Ford’s websites, we will identify that there is a huge variety of products and each firm competes in that. However, the new market conditions stated before have greatly changed the way auto manufacturers think of the future and this in turn may change their pricing and competition policies, or even determine their existence in the market.

2.1- Analyzing the Import/Sales Sector

While the auto manufacturers are considered to be operating in an oligopolistic market structure, importing and selling vehicles or relative products is a different story. The import and sale of vehicles is the second and equally important business sector of the Australian Automotive Industry. There are many different car selling businesses and we shall only consider first-hand sales, as second-hand sales in general are not included in economics and more specifically in GDP measurements. To enter the industry hard at all as there are not many barriers to entry, however someone who is interested needs to consider of the high costs in setting up an automotive dealership. All businesses in this market are mostly based on product differentiation to compete and while prices are not “sticky”, pricing competition is set up by the market mechanism and tends not to be considered a regular phenomenon. Lastly, cost analysis and cost management play a very important role. All of the above characteristics refer to the Monopolistic Competition Market Structure. In this market structure we will focus on two phases, the short-run phase and the long-run phase, each with different competition characteristics and outcomes.

An important factor that we need to state here is that when the costs of developing a vehicle in the manufacturing sector rise, then the cost for selling the vehicle for a dealership may rise as well. This is always depended of course on if the vehicle was produced in Australia and if it was produced overseas, under what economic conditions was it produced. Price might be “sticky” for manufacturers, however prices will change much easier in this sector if needs be. Here firms will change their pricing policies if costs either rise or fall and this is always depended on the market mechanism. The amount of competitiveness along with the amount of price elasticity of demand will depend on how many rivals the monopolistic competitive firm will have to face.

In such market the following situation is very common, a situation that helps us distinct between short-run and long-run:

Stage One

In this stage the firm experiences economic profits. However, this fact will draw new firms in the market causing the profits to be competed away.

Stage Two

The economic losses indicated in this stage will cause many firms to exit the market, as they cannot keep selling under these market conditions.

Stage Three

In the final stage, the market clears-up, or reaches equilibrium point. As all firms that needed to exit the market have done so, the market mechanism comes to the point where no economic profits/losses are realized by the firms. This is the point where the market is most stable.

Studying the situation above we can identify one very important fact for any monopolistic competitive firm in the Australian Automotive Industry/ Sales sector. That is that in this market structure, in the long run, firms will realize only normal profits and the market mechanism will eventually reach an equilibrium point. Hence, in the long-run firms will compete mostly through product differentiation. However, in the short run firms may experience economic profits or losses and this is what causes firms to enter or exit the market and “shows” firms how to compete and when to apply pricing competition policies.

Conclusion

The Australian Automotive Industry may be experiencing rough market conditions, mostly because there is no more government support; however competition and profit maximization is still possible. Thinking of moving overseas is not always a good option for the manufacturing businesses, as the Australian Economy needs the manufacturing sector, as it represents a reasonably big part of GDP.
Market competition conditions are well defined for every manufacturer or car dealership, hence any business in the market ought to use the available to them competition strategies and achieve higher market share and profitability level or stabilize its profitability levels. Either way, these are the main goals for almost every profit-motivated business in any market type under any market structure. However, every business ought to define the market structure that is operating in, so that it can then clearly define its goals, strategies and policies. The market mechanism is in all cases responsible for all the above strategies and most of the cases responsible for setting up pricing policies or indicating pricing and marketing strategies.

A Look At Social Networking For The Automotive Industry

Social networking for the automotive industry seems a bit hard to fathom. With all of the sites out there doing it, but only concentrating on a couple of different sectors of the industry. The way I see it for this to work, it needs to be more all-inclusive.

The automotive a whole is having hard times right now, and believe me they are all looking for ways to make their businesses perform better. They go to the web because it’s one of the best places to push their businesses without having to spend more money then they can afford.

With all of the buzz on the net about social networking, you can bet they are looking in to it, just as I did. A lot of them are probably finding the exact same thing as I did, that there are no social networks that are directly related to their business.

Why on earth would you join a social network that doesn’t relate to your business? I know I wouldn’t do it, if they are looking to promote their business by the use of a social network, it just makes sense to look for like minded people in the social networks.

It stands to reason that a person who is looking to promote their auto restoration shop, doesn’t want to join an automotive social network that is aimed at new car dealers. What point is there to spend the time that it takes to network with people there.

Social networking takes a lot of time to do right. You need to figure out the best way to use it for your business. It takes hours of studying to get it right, you need to know demographics, and why the customers would respond to your as opposed to another person.

If you on the network that is aimed at you specific sector you increase you chances of it working for you greatly. Although a lot of the automotive industry still has no place to go for this, people are out there wondering why automotive social networking seems to be failing as a whole.

The bottom line is there is no such a thing as the idea of as a whole, it is just a few sectors of the industry that are covered in the social networking universe. I wonder how these people have come to a conclusion that it’s failing as a whole, when that doesn’t exist yet.

When you take a slice of pie, you can’t know the entire story of that pie. No I don’t think that automotive social networking as a whole has failed, I think that it need to have deeper exploration. The automotive industry is a tough way to make a living.

A lot of the people in the industry feel as if they got left out in the cold, if you give them a nice warm fuzzy place to call home, you can bet they will swoon right on it. They will attack like a pack of vultures, but they need to fell like they are getting something from it.

In the automotive industry we don’t have piles of money sitting around to experiment with, we need things to work the first time. I realize that most of these web sites don’t charge to join them, but it does take a person a lot of time to make them work.

I’ve been in the automotive business for about 20 or 25 years, I have worked in all facets of the industry, from parts to restoration, all different makes and models, I just want to keep people interested in the old cars because it’s where my heart is.

Opportunities to Set up or Expand Your Automotive Industry Related Business

In 1984 Nissan established a Factory in Sunderland, North East England. In the past eight years this factory has been Europe’s most efficient car plant. Since then Nissans overall investment in the region has been approximately £2.1bn ($4.1bn).

The North East of England also boasts a wide range of specialist industrial support. This includes the NEPA programme which looks at lean automotive manufacturing; The Regional Centre for Manufacturing Excellence; The Automotive Academy; and the Automotive Centre for Excellence.

These resources are made available to businesses that are looking to set up in the region. The regional development agency, One NorthEast, have a dedicated team who help businesses from all over Europe and around the world to look at the opportunities available to business looking to relocate and take advantages of what the North East has to offer.

Located in nearby Newcastle upon Tyne is Northumbria University. The design school contributes to the industrial design of automotive products.

The level of commitment by Nissan has propelled the North East of England as one of the top places in Europe to relocate automotive businesses [http://www.investnortheastengland.com/page/sectors/automotive.cfm] as well as the expansion opportunities available.

Nissans decision to move to the North east has prompted over 150 automotive companies to relocate or start up in the region and the industry now has a combined workforce of 18,000 skilled people. Companies in the car or car component industry can take advantage of the regions large and skilled workforce with great employment skills in the automotive industry.

In addition to the employable skills enjoyed in the region, the industry is also supported through the Institute of Automotive and Manufacturing Advance practice at the University of Sunderland which is recognised worldwide as a one of the leaders in its field. Its research includes materials and structural analysis, manufacturing systems and ergonomics. There is also Durham University’s Centre for Automotive Research; here they have expertise in vehicle aerodynamics and hybrid vehicles.

5 Automotive Industry Trends Which Will Put Pedal to Metal

A new technological decade has unfolded, and businesses are gearing up to keep pace with the emerging trends and evolving user requisites of this era. Industry giants are claiming to have their strategies in place, in order to mitigate any risks which the year 2013 may pose. But are all industries indeed ready?

As of March 2013, the US automotive industry has recorded a sale of 3,689,089, but will the pace be maintained throughout? Are mobility firms prepared for the next decade? In order to determine this, automakers will need to keep an eye in the emerging trends of the industry and adopt them into their business models. Here are 5 key trends which every mobility firm must be mindful about as it strategizes for the upcoming financial year.

Governments will regulate the need for safer and cleaner transportation. As far as secure individual mobility is concerned, governments are currently focusing on three core areas- environmental compatibility, preservation of resources and safety. This will prompt original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to render a diversified range of safer and cleaner vehicles, especially zero-emission transportation. While, consumers will weigh their vehicle-buying decisions based on penalties and incentives at their disposal.

New players will set foot in the automotive sector. The evolving consumer needs, introduction of Automotive IT solutions and advancing technology have paved way for new entrants to set foot in the mobility market. Even non-automotive firms are rendering services like mobility integration, car-sharing and ‘black box insurance’ based on usage, which decides the premium limit based on electric vehicle integration, real-time evaluation of driving performance and advanced car entertainment systems. The evolution of these new business models will allow the new players to become an integrated part of the traditional automotive value chain.

Automotive marketing will get an edge with social media initiatives. The marketing trends in the automotive industry have witnessed a major shift. From showcasing a gleaming car in a 30-second slot, the means of marketing have become more social. Lately, consumers have been doing a thorough research before deciding upon which vehicle to invest in. Social media platforms have facilitated the access to a plethora of information, including perceptions and opinions of other consumers. Buyers are resting their decisions on reviews which they acquire from influential blogs and websites, other consumers and news features- sources on which the mobility firms can’t exercise any control. At the same time, OEMs are harnessing social platforms to develop closer bonds with consumers. They are adapting to the paradigm shift and utilizing it to market their products to a wider audience base.

OEMs will look forward to rationalizing their portfolios. Post surviving the recession blues, most OEMs will shift their focus from volume to sustainability and profits. Emerging OEMs will look forward to climbing up the scale as soon as possible, by either acquiring in their home market or eyeing the developed nations, in order to build a global presence.

Globalization of the sector will result into emergence of new risks. Globalization is paving way for new risks and OEMs are continuously devising radical operational strategies in order to mitigate these risks. Whether it’s the volatile prices of raw materials and misalignment of demand and supply, or it’s the shortage of qualified workers and changing regulatory prices, automotive firms are facing a reality check pertaining to their globalization efforts. In the wake of these challenges, industry must gear up to implement mitigation strategies in order to simplify the adaption of the value chain. And implementation of automotive software solutions is being viewed as one of the prime solutions to these challenges.

Planning is the key to success in the times to come. The automotive industry needs to study the evolving trends circumspectly and prepare their business strategies accordingly.