Auto industry embraces its tech future

As America’s leadership in heavy industry has given way to rust belt decay, auto companies have had to evolve or die.  Over the past decade, Ford has been perhaps the most forward-looking US automaker, and a recent GreenBiz article took a deep dive into the many evolutionary initiatives currently on Ford’s radar.  This is exactly the kind of thing that resilient investors will want to stay tuned into; being aware of what’s just over the horizon is a key component of being nimble and ready to take advantage of new opportunities in our rapidly-changing world.  It was striking to hear Ford’s CEO warning of trends that could impede freedom of mobility; the company’s response includes new shared ownership models and electric bikes.  Other innovations discussed at a June “Further with Ford” event included using shredded money as a plastics-replacement material (see image) and more efficient corporate car fleets.

At the forefront of Ford’s awareness is the shrinking role of the automobile among the millennial generation.  “They don’t hold a car as a status symbol like the baby boomers did,” said Sheryl Connelly, the company’s manager of global consumer trends and futuring. “But they do see it as a lifestyle enabler and a utility.”

In response, Ford’s Smart Mobility Plan is developing partnerships with some unlikely collaborators, including car-sharing startups in the US and London, while also pursuing evolutionary breakthroughs with 3-D printing pioneers:

The company’s next frontier will be trying to translate materials innovation to 3D printing. New startup partner Carbon3D uses a unique Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) technology, which works with a delicate balance of UV light and oxygen and opens new doors for the versatility, durability and speed of advanced manufacturing.

If you are bullish on the potential for these sorts of innovations to be a key part of our long-term shift toward a more climate-friendly, resource-reducing industrial system, you’re likely to find some things to keep on eye on, or even invest in now, in the presentations made at Ford’s three-day future-forecasting event.  Learn more in the GreenBiz article or go to the source on the Further with Ford website.


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