Future of Employment, Technology and Vehicle Sales
June 29, 2020—On June 3, The Alliance for Automotive Innovation held a hearing called “The State of Transportation and Critical Infrastructure: Examining the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
The hearing presented findings on the impact that the coronavirus has had on the automotive industry, including employment, car sales and technological advancements. In the hearing, John Bozzella, president and CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, said this as part of his opening statement:
“It will take months, if not years, to fully comprehend the toll this pandemic has inflicted on individuals, families, communities, the economy and the nation. But I am proud of how the industry and the men and women we employ across the country have stepped up to meet this challenge. And they are counting on all of us to care just as deeply about the future of their industry.”
Right before COVID-19, nearly 40,000 more Americans were working in the industry than during the 2009 recession. Then, when the pandemic hit, auto industry sales went from above average to a nearly 50 percent reduction in April. For the first time since World War II, major production facilities were halted. This impacted employment and production in a major way. The implications of the impact of the coronavirus on vehicle sales and production could total nearly 100,000 job losses in the automotive industry and nearly 2 million jobs throughout the entire economy, according to the testimony.
Most major automakers have resumed production, which is good, but the extent to which production has begun or employment has been reinstated is unknown, according to the testimony.
A Shift in Focus
One positive to come of this was that the industry stepped up to find ways to create equipment for healthcare workers and their own employees.
Another positive was the revving up of certain technologies that helped provide contactless delivery of vehicles or processing of payment. There’s also been opportunities to offer new services. Here’s a look at how the industry is rebounding:
Vehicle Sales Outlook
According to the testimony, which used information from J.D. Power and Wards Intelligence, the pandemic has had a major impact on the projections of vehicle sales. Updated projections estimates that U.S. sales & forecasts for 2020 will be 12.5-14.million units, which is down from the 16.8 pre-COVID forecast. In fact, current market projection estimates that 2019 sales levels may not return until 2023, according to Wards Intelligence.
Gas Price Implications
Another major factor to watch is gas prices and how those will impact vehicle sales and the type of vehicles that are wold. According to the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, gas prices are predicted to average $1.58 throughout the summer season. Lower gas prices will impact the sales of cars like EVs, but could also result in more driving, which could drive up the need for maintenance.
Future of Technology
The testimony notes that automakers and suppliers will have less capital to invest in future technology development as they scramble to absorb COVID-19 related financial losses. For example, COVID-19 could have major implications on the development of EVs.
For access to the full testimony, click here.