1. Does the rapid pace of change in the automotive business mean a significant increase in the complexity of logistics?

In the short term, it means exactly that. Carmakers and their suppliers are dealing with a larger number of models and model variants, a greater variety of technologies and rising customer expectations. That creates additional complexity in every part of the logistics chain. Over the long term, however, technological change could help to reduce complexity. Electric vehicles require fewer service parts, for example, and it is becoming possible to implement more features as software changes, reducing the need for different variants of physical parts. We may even see the use of additive manufacturing to produce parts on demand.

2. Will new technology have a significant effect on the automotive aftermarket and the logistics required to serve that sector?

We can foresee a time when connected vehicles may be able to predict the requirement for new parts and order them autonomously in advance. The commercial vehicle sector, where high levels of availability are critical, is already experimenting with that approach. Private car owners can look forward to greater levels of convenience, for example through an increase in the availability of service and repair activities conducted at their homes. For providers, those models are going to require parts logistics to be tightly coordinated with the movements of customers and technicians. Of course, new automotive technologies can also be used to enhance logistics capabilities. We are already seeing autonomous vehicles in the warehouse environment, and the self-driving truck or delivery van might not be that far away.

3. Is the industry ready for the challenges and opportunities presented by emerging technologies and new approaches to mobility?

The industry is doing its best to get ready! For example, that’s why the automotive e-commerce space is seeing such a high level of activity at the moment. Automotive players know that customers want to interact with them online. They also understand that the organizations with the most effective online connections to their customers will be best positioned to deliver new offerings, whether that means selling vehicles outright, providing access to a range of mobility options or supplying value-added services to existing users.

It’s clear, however, that not one company can claim to have addressed all the challenges and opportunities presented by new mobility approaches, connectivity and the rise of e-commerce. Long-term success is likely to depend on closer partnerships between carmakers, technology providers and logistics partners.

Published: November 2018

Images: DHL