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The sustainability ecosystem: protecting growth and the environment in the automotive sector.

Changing expectations

The concept of sustainability has long been a strategic priority for the automotive sector. This is hardly surprising given the predominance of combustion engine technology within the design concepts of most original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and the very immediate connection this has with CO2 emissions and the widespread narrative on global warming.

Technological innovation has to date been the response. The continued introduction of electric and hybrid power, allied to greater engine efficiency, has collectively helped lower the carbon footprint of all new vehicles entering the market.

Driven by consumer expectations, sustainability remains a critical strategic imperative. Indeed, it stands with equal authority beside the other key industry trends of globalization and operational efficiency.

That said, sustainability remains arguably the hardest of the three to navigate, due to the fact that consumer demand itself has proven far harder to predict than anticipated, the role a vehicle is expected to perform is also changing, as the concept of ‘mobility’ undergoes a radical transformation; and recent events like a global pandemic, parts shortages, and trade wars have also seen resilience trump sustainability as the industry’s principal short-term focus.

Sustainability is also an idea that continues to grow in scale and application

It’s growing in terms of the interconnected nature of the responses now needed to affect measurable environmental benefits. And it’s also growing to incorporate the demands being placed on automotive OEMs to sustain their own profitability and long-term survival. The sustainable business model of today now extends beyond considerations of a purely environmental nature, to encompass plans for maintaining revenues and innovation simultaneously.

Adapting to this new reality requires change. At times radical change, yet no automotive business need atte think of the interactions that need to be maintained between OEMs, suppliers, partners, customers, and the vehicles themselves.

Expectations, like information, flow across the modern automotive value chain. Adopting a more holistic approach to product design, manufacture, and delivery is essential for meeting them. A journey that will bring challenges as well as opportunity, as the industry sets course for a dynamic new future.

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