Green consumers driving visibility in vehicle supply chain

A study from Zebra Technologies shows transparency is ever-more important to consumers, meaning greater visibility of the automotive ecosystem is vital

Burgeoning demand from consumers for greater transparency around the sustainability of new vehicles is placing automotive manufacturers under growing pressure to digitise their supply chains, an in-depth study shows.

It also reveals that – while most automakers agree greater visibility is important – most are not prioritising investment in such tech in the coming five years.

Data and information transparency is ever-more important to consumers, meaning greater visibility of the automotive ecosystem is  becoming increasingly important to fleet managers. 

The Automotive Ecosystem Vision Study shines a light on the pressure automotive manufacturers face to meet growing consumer demand for sustainability and transparency.

It was undertaken by Zebra Technologies, a multinational manufacturer of marking, tracking, and computer printing technologies designed to deliver competitive advantage.

The study shows that when considering a vehicle for purchase or lease, 81% of consumers and 86% of fleet managers indicate they want to understand the origin of materials and parts on their vehicle. Millennials lead the way for more transparency in automotive manufacturing, with 80% saying it’s important to have access to manufacturer information, and to know if source materials and parts are sustainable. Consumers also want to understand how vehicles are manufactured, from end-to-end.

It also reveals the urgent need for fleet managers to digitise operations and the supply chain. 

Automakers turning to 3D printing

Overall, 72% of automotive industry decision-makers agree digital transformation is a strategic priority for their organisation. In the next five years, they anticipate expanding their use of technology, with 47% focused on additive manufacturing (3D printing) and 45% on supply chain planning solutions.

Yet although the majority of fleet managers (81%) want end-to-end visibility during the manufacturing process just 32% say they will prioritise investment in the kind of real-time data systems that will give visibility across production and the supply chain over the next five years.

 The report also shows that consumers are a driving force behind automakers’ adoption of tech, with 80% of consumers saying sustainability and eco-friendliness are key priorities in their vehicle purchase and lease decisions. 

Most millennials (87%) prioritise sustainability in their vehicles, followed by 78% of Gen Xers and 76% of Baby Boomers.  

Consumers are also driving the growth of personalised vehicles. However, 70% of automakers say they struggle to keep up with increasing customisation demands. As a result, three-quarters of them say a top priority is building strategic partnerships with tech companies for their next generation of production.

“There’s no doubt the automotive manufacturing ecosystem is undergoing a seismic shift,” says Stephan Pottel, Automotive Industry Lead at Zebra Technologies. “This includes running two manufacturing processes – one for gasoline and diesel vehicles and another for next-generation electric, hybrid and autonomous self-driving vehicles.”

He adds: “The pressure to meet regulations and demands around sustainability is daunting, as is the need to provide real-time visibility throughout the supply chain. 

“With the right strategic investments in technology, the automotive industry can meet these expectations and better serve their customers.”


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