While countless manufacturers throughout West Michigan have lamented the lack of available talent, evidence shows the workforce constraint has finally affected the industry’s ability to grow.
As the automotive industry pursues cutting-edge technological breakthroughs in autonomous driving and vehicle electrification, West Michigan suppliers must ensure they’re not left behind.
After a strong 2016, most West Michigan manufacturers are looking ahead to this year with optimism that they will continue to grow as the economy expands.
While some industry professionals have raised concerns over subprime lending, rising inventories, incentives and other trends pointing to a downturn in the automotive cycle, the industry should remain healthy in the coming years. That’s according to Mike Wall, director of automotive analysis at IHS Automotive in Grand Rapids, who forecasts North American light vehicle production to close at 17.8 million units this year. While 2017 production is projected to slide to 17.6 million units, he expects it will inch up to 18 million units in 2018 and peak at 18.7 million units in 2020 as new facilities in Mexico come online. Wall spoke with MiBiz about what automotive suppliers in West Michigan should expect in the new year.
Lower fuel prices may have shifted consumers’ buying habits toward trucks and SUVs, but most automotive suppliers believe electric vehicle technology is here to stay.
To move beyond a looming sales plateau, automakers will need to appeal to the generation they’ve long-feared prefers car-sharing services and cycling to owning automobiles.
British voters wanted to send a message with the Brexit vote, and it was certainly heard loud and clear by manufacturers in West Michigan.
ALBION — Over the last decade and a half, Team 1 Plastics Inc. avoided expanding its facility until absolutely necessary, choosing instead to maximize every square inch of its shop floor.
Automakers have witnessed a resurgence in interest for trucks and SUVs as gasoline prices continue to hover around $2 per gallon in many areas of the country.
As West Michigan automotive suppliers race to meet customers’ orders in what’s expected to be another banner year in 2016, those companies must also keep their eyes forward and prepare for the next downturn in the business cycle.