The automotive industry is ever-evolving, from manufacturing processes to end products. Much of this innovation occurs thanks to emerging technologies that set the stage for more efficient and high-quality manufacturing processes and results. Sometimes the opposite occurs, and the technology is informed by trends in consumer interests that push the automotive industry to change their way of thinking.

As we look at what’s on the horizon in the automotive industry, two major trends are influencing how we approach automotive manufacturing: environmental consciousness and automation. Let’s take a look at how these trends are impacting the automotive industry and why it’s important for manufacturing to keep up.

Trend #1: Environmentally-friendly Vehicles

Consumers and businesses alike are increasingly interested in the benefits of eco-friendly driving. Shifting personal and commercial vehicles to more environmentally friendly models is an important step in reducing one’s carbon footprint, but these changes don’t happen overnight. Here are a few highlights that show where the eco-friendly trend is taking the industry:

Hybrid Models

Hydrogen fuel and electric cars are still popular, but hybrid models are the greater trend. We’re seeing the emergence of hybrids in more than just small cars, as trucks have started to join the ranks of hybrid vehicles. We’re seeing this with the new Dodge Ram EV 1500 truck, which uses kinetic energy to recharge the generator when you brake. This unique hybrid model enables the truck to automatically pivot between gas and electric power without ever needing to plug in and charge, giving it much greater range.

Other automotive manufacturers aren’t far behind. Toyota invested $8 billion last year in a battery plant in South Carolina to develop half-hybrid batteries, paving the way for more electric and hybrid vehicles in the future.

Electric Forklifts

Not all hybrid and electric vehicles are on the road—the trend has begun extending back into the warehouse itself! Electric and hybrid forklifts are increasingly popular, especially in Europe where combustion engines will be banned within the next decade. The United States is following suit, with several states joining an initiative to ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles. Forklifts may not have the same visibility as vehicles on the road, but they are making an impact nonetheless. Not only are electric and hybrid forklifts more environmentally friendly, but they also are far more cost-effective than their older combustion counterparts.

Natural Gas Trucks

While electric hybrids are reducing carbon emissions for pick-up trucks, larger semi-trucks are taking a different approach to eco-friendly driving with natural gas. UPS in using natural gas trucks throughout Ohio—one of the most significant states in automotive manufacturing and trends.

Trend #2: Autonomous Vehicles

Consumers value environmentally-conscious products, but they also value products that make their lives easier! Autonomous vehicles and vehicle functions are trending in the automotive industry as manufacturers look for new ways to make driving more comfortable and streamlined for their customers. What started as a shift from manual to automatic transmission has continued with developments like adaptive cruise control and even fully self-driving vehicles.

Adaptive Cruise Control

Adaptive cruise control is a highly popular feature in new cars today, as it allows drivers to remain in cruise control when vehicles ahead of them slow down or speed up. The vehicle automatically detects objects in front of it and adjusts its speed to maintain a safe distance without the driver needing to switch out of the cruise control function. While fully self-driving vehicles are still a long way from mainstream driving, Tesla and other vehicle manufacturers are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.

Autonomous Trucking

Again, what happens in the personal vehicle industry is extending into commercial vehicles as well. Some semi-trucks are being manufactured to run more autonomously to ease the burden on both long- and short-range truckers. Tesla is at the forefront of this with all-electric semi-trucks boasting a 500-mile range.

Driver-free Vehicles

Self-driving vehicles may not be on the consumer market yet, but you can experience one in select major cities across the United States. Uber’s self-driving ride service, Waymo, takes riders from A to B in metro Phoenix and San Francisco, with plans to continue ramping up in Los Angeles County and Austin, Texas. Lyft is following in Uber’s footsteps by partnering with self-driving vehicle brands such as Motional and Argo to change the face of ride-hailing services in Miami, Las Vegas, and Austin.

Why We Embrace Automotive Trends at American Manufacturing

Trends in the automotive industry have a natural impact on manufacturers like us as we need to have the capabilities to build the necessary parts. At American Manufacturing, we take automotive trends even more seriously by applying them directly to our own processes, not just the products we put out. We’ve also always been passionate about the benefits of automation in manufacturing!

When you choose an innovation-focused manufacturer that educates itself on conscious consumer behavior, you know you’re getting the very best! Contact us to learn why we’re a preferred choice for automotive parts manufacturing.