|The global supply chain is about to change|
In most issues, we tell you what’s going on with the industry’s various suppliers of critical parts. This week, we’ve connected the dots to tell you what’s going to be going on with them.
The Supply Chain of the Future is a multi-angled discussion that shows you how the cozy old arrangement of recent decades, of auto parts and materials moving among customers, is facing radical change.
The reasons are diverse. There’s the industry’s shift to electric vehicles. And there’s the need for new technologies to go into them. There’s a growing need for manufacturers to reduce their carbon footprint — especially in Europe. There’s a new desire to get away from relying on long-distance shipping, to put parts-making as close as possible to vehicle assembly plants. And there’s the burning need to have more insight into where every part is, large or small — although not everybody’s comfortable with that insight.
So how does all this shuffling affect any given company? Take a look at our front page story about the Toyota-affiliated supplier Toyota Boshoku to see for yourself. Boshoku was already big — a key supplier to everything Toyota does around the world. But in the new world that’s coming? Boshoku is scrambling to create new parts and solve new problems that haven’t even arrived yet.
And all that at a time when supplier margins are not as rich as they used to be. Two years of disruption in the guise of COVID and the worldwide chip shortage have trounced supplier profitability. We discuss that predicament on Page 3 as we publish the 2022 Automotive News Top Suppliers ranking this week, the annual list that gathers data on the world’s biggest parts companies, ranked by OE parts sales.
Consider it one look back to call it like it is, and one look forward to call it like it will be.
In Monday’s Automotive News:
Suppliers under the gun: Japan’s Toyota Boshoku is a poster child for what’s facing suppliers now. Toyota needs its affiliated parts makers to help lift the automaker into a new era of vehicle technology and Boshoku, a global giant in interiors, is busily creating a product portfolio to do that. We explain it all.
Infiniti getting back on track? In an exclusive interview with Automotive News, Infiniti Chairman Peyman Kargar lays out his three-phase plan to respark the diminished Japanese luxury brand and prepare it for its new life as an EV brand.
Hamp back at Toyota: Julie Hamp, the global communications executive who broke the glass ceiling at Toyota Motor Corp. only to be arrested in Japan in 2015 and sent to the U.S. without being charged with any crime, is back at the world’s biggest automaker, this time as a special media adviser to President Akio Toyoda. She will support Yumi Otsuka, chief sustainability officer, and report directly to Chief Communications Officer Jun Nagata and Chris Reynolds, executive vice president of corporate resources at Toyota Motor North America. In 2015, Hamp was jailed for 20 days but never charged after a family member allegedly mailed Oxycodone pills to her to alleviate knee pain. Japanese media reported at the time that prosecutors found little criminal intent in the case.
Bruton Smith dies: The longtime car dealer and pioneer in public automotive retail, as well as NASCAR hall of famer, racetrack owner and philanthropist, died last week at 95. Smith launched Sonic Automotive of Charlotte, N.C., as a public company in November 1997 with 20 dealerships. He also started Speedway Motorsports Inc., which became the first motorsports company to go public in 1995 [it later went private in 2019] and was the first track owner to erect and shine lights on the course for a night race in 1992.
Masks optional again: General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis are making masking optional at all U.S. facilities. In mid-May, the Detroit 3 and the UAW — which have a COVID-19 joint task force — reinstated a requirement that employees wear masks in southeastern Michigan, where there were high levels of COVID-19.
July 1, 2020: Lincoln said it will kill its venerable Continental sedan. Lincoln resurrected the Continental in 2016 as a new flagship for the rebounding brand. U.S. sales dropped steadily after hitting 12,012 in 2017. The Continental, among Ford’s most revered nameplates, joined Lincoln’s lineup in 1939. It was developed as a one-off vehicle for then-Ford President Edsel Ford, who had fallen in love with the long hoods, short trunks and rear-mounted spare tires of European sports cars on a trip overseas. The Museum of Modern Art in 1951 called it one of the eight most important cars before World War II, and architect Frank Lloyd Wright considered the original Continental “the most beautiful car in the world.” The Continental gained cachet through the 1950s and 1960s and served as the limousine of U.S. presidents, notably carrying John F. Kennedy the day he was assassinated.