In February of 2020, the China Passenger Car Association noted that car sales declined by 80% compared to February 2019 figures, according to Trading Economics. America’s automotive industry is also reeling, and Ford is reportedly planning to extend its current production suspension beyond the end of March 2020. All over the world, auto industry workers — from car salesman and insurance providers to auto mechanics and beyond — are wondering what the future holds. Of course, the automotive engineering industry is taking a hit, but it isn’t the only niche being negatively impacted by the pandemic. The question is, how is the automotive engineering industry currently navigating the crisis, and how will it rebound once current social distancing guidelines are relaxed?
How are Automotive Engineers Coping?
The worldwide automotive engineering market sector currently has a value of 5.31 billion dollars, according to Marketwatch. In India, domestic auto manufacturing increased by 16% during 2019, and some of India’s biggest automakers, including Tata Motors, Ashok Layland, and Haldex India, which are renowned for hiring many Indian mechanical engineers and electrical engineers, are scaling back operations. These days, many automotive engineers have been laid off, but this unwelcome development won’t last forever. American automaker, Tesla, has furloughed staff members until May of 2020.
Some automotive engineers are now working from home and adjusting to the new normal as best they can. While these automotive engineers can’t using borescopes to troubleshoot problems with vehicles, test aerodynamics in wind tunnels, or enjoy the immediacy of face-to-face meetings, they are able to perform some of their duties remotely. Other engineers work from home as much as possible but need to report to their workplaces as needed. There are still some automakers running assembly lines, and most automakers, including India’s Mahindra & Mahindra, are running departments that require the services of automotive engineers, such as research and development. Many automotive engineers utilise software programs, including CAD (a computer drafting program) and CATIA (for surface modeling), which they may access from home with proper login credentials.
How will the Automotive Engineering Industry Rebound?
The prognosis for the automotive engineering industry in the age of coronavirus is dependent on how the entire automotive industry adapts to the changes. After all, automotive engineers need companies to work for which design and manufacture cars. The respected industry trade magazine, Automotive News, reports that one big USA automaker, Ford, is already making plans to bring its workers back to factories by May 4th, 2020.
Many other automakers worldwide may have similar timelines. While prospective car buyers may be hesitant to invest in automobiles until the crisis is completely over, government programs worldwide are giving people access to help to get through the pandemic, and this form of help should relieve some financial pressures. In the meantime, many automakers are stepping up to help fight the virus, including Mahindra & Mahindra, which has developed a ventilator prototype.
Barron’s anticipates growth of 1.5 percent in the automotive market in 2021. The road back to a robust automotive market will be long and winding, but consumers will eventually resume their old spending habits. Since models that calculate the impact from the pandemic depend on shifting government rules, adherence to rules by citizens, and a host of other variables, only time will tell how quickly the automotive market will regain traction.