Inaugural conference draws more than 200 for first day of programs
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 12, 2016) – More than 200 auto industry leaders from Kentucky and beyond gathered in Lexington Monday for the second annual AutoVision Conference.
The two-day event, a creation of the Kentucky Automotive Industry Association, brings together auto industry experts, manufacturers, suppliers and other business leaders to discuss the future of automotive manufacturing and hear about changes that lie ahead.
The presenting sponsor of the event is the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.
Governor Matt Bevin kicked off the conference by commenting that Kentucky’s position as third-largest producer of cars and light trucks was a strong distinction, but that the Bluegrass state still had room to grow. “Kentucky will be the hub for engineering and manufacturing excellence in North America,” Gov. Bevin pledged.
Experts talk about innovations, changing needs
The first day of programming included presentations by GM’s chief economist Mustafa Mohatarem and Local Motors general manager Greg Haye.
GM’s Mohatarem is bullish on the auto industry’s future both in the U.S. and across the globe. He pointed to an unusually long economic recovery in the U.S., combined with increasing job security and a long period of low oil prices as indicators of a steady auto market.
He rejected the notion that young Americans are not interested in driving or car ownership. “Young people weren’t buying cars because they were really expensive, because of insurance, college debt and job insecurity,” he said. “As those things are changing, job security is improving dramatically, young people are coming back.”
Mohatarem said the global demand for passenger cars will likely decline as the popularity of SUVs and crossovers, which have been enormously successful, especially as oil prices remain low.
Thanks to the long economic recovery, Mohatarem said that households have improved their financial health. Low inflation and low interest rates have kept costs stable for much longer than during other recoveries in the last century. “Usually by now people are beginning to take more risks, stretch their credit. We’re not seeing that. That’s really good news,” said Mohatarem. “The inflation is low enough that the Feds can’t raise interest rates just on inflation alone.”
“The vehicle as we know it must die”
Greg Haye of Local Motors offered the conference a radical vision of the automotive industry: one that responds to the specific needs of customers, cities and campuses with vehicles built through open-source design and 3D printing.
“We do our best work behind open doors,” said Haye, adding that Local Motors seeks to shrink the distance between vehicle design, component manufacturing and consumer usage. “We are loyal to local, and we won’t stop until supply and demand have the same hometown.”
The agenda Monday also included a panel discussion on the future of 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing. Moderator David Guilford of Automotive News led panelists including Rick Neff of Cincinnati Inc., Isaac Mathew of UPS, and Sundar Atre of the University of Louisville in a talk about printing quality, lightweighting, and the influence of fuel efficiency standards on the use of 3D printing in auto manufacturing facilities.
“We have assembled a remarkable group of talent from across the country, leaders in the automotive industry who shape what rolls off our lines every year,” said Dave Tatman, executive director of KAIA. “We’ve had tremendous success building this industry, but it’s important to hear from these leaders as we look ahead for potential opportunities and roadblocks in order to remain on the fast track.”
AutoVision continues Tuesday
AutoVision will have a full day of programs Tuesday, including a keynote address by Wil James, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK). Speakers begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday’s presentations and panel discussions include:
• “The Clockspeed Dilemma: Responding to the melding of consumer and automotive technologies and the rise of mobile services,” Gary Silberg, KMPG
• “Wearables on the Factory Floor: JIT in the information economy,” Ankur Gopal, Interapt “The Internet of Cars: Connected technologies are changing drivers’ experiences and expectations.” Moderated by David Guilford of Automotive News; panelists include Alan Ewing of Connected Care Consortium; Chan Lieu of Venable; and Andrew Stess of dashradio.
• “Factories of the Future: how connected technologies can drive personnel, process and profits in manufacturing”. Tony Fink, iGear.
• “Changing Faces, Changing Places: how the automotive workforce drives improvements and advances in the production process.” Moderated by Dana Cosby, HRD Strategies; panelists include Jean Marie Thrower, Supplier Development Systems; Tierra Kavanaugh Wayne, TKT Associates; and Lamar Rucker, GM.
• “Disruptive Drivers: dramatic changes in the supply chain create new opportunities,” Drura Parrish, MakeTime.
• “Understanding international cultures and workforce best practices in a global industry.” Moderated by Bill May, High Value Consulting; panelists include John Nunneley, Hitachi; Torsten Langguth, Dr. Schneider Automotive; and Woody Iddhibhakdibongse, Thai Summit.
• “Election 2016: the impact of the fall presidential election on the auto industry.”
Moderated by Mark Green, The Lane Report; panelists include Curt Magelby, Ford; Ann Wilson, Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association; and Paul Ryan, Global Automakers.