Greater transparency expected in automotive manufacturing

Posted on 7 Dec 2022 by Joe Bush

A new study has revealed a high demand for knowing the origin and sustainability level of materials and parts in automotive manufacturing, as well as receiving an end-to-end view of the manufacturing process.

Zebra Technologies Corporation has released the findings of its Automotive Ecosystem Vision Study which confirmed automotive manufacturers are under pressure to accommodate growing consumer demands for sustainability and transparency throughout the manufacturing process and fleet managers’ need for the digitisation of operations and supply chain. Despite a fluctuating economy, automotive manufacturers are ready to invest in technology innovation as seven-in-ten expect to increase their tech spend and six-in-ten plan to increase their manufacturing infrastructure spend in 2023.

Zebra auto survey

Spanning multiple generations, consumers are the driving force behind automotive manufacturers’ acceleration to technology innovation as eight-in-ten say sustainability and eco-friendliness are key priorities in their vehicle purchase and lease decisions. Eighty-seven percent of Millennials prioritise sustainability in their vehicles followed closely by 78% of Gen Xers and 76% of Baby Boomers.

Consumers are also driving the growing emphasis on personalisation – the ability to customise a vehicle to their liking. Nearly four-in-five consumers say personalisation options factor into their decision to purchase a vehicle, and eight-in-ten fleet managers share these same requirements for sustainability and personalisation. While nearly 80% of automotive industry decision-makers recognise consumers expect more sustainable and personalised vehicle options today, seven-in-ten concede it’s difficult to keep up with increasing customisation demands. As a result, three-fourths of automotive manufacturers say a top priority is to build strategic partnerships with tech companies for their next generation of production.

“There’s no doubt the automotive manufacturing ecosystem is undergoing a seismic shift with huge hurdles to cross. This includes essentially running two distinct manufacturing processes – one for traditional gasoline/diesel vehicles and the other for next generation electric, hybrid and autonomous self-driving vehicles,” said Stephan Pottel, Automotive Industry Lead, Zebra Technologies. “The pressure to meet regulations, demands for sustainability as well as do more faster and provide real-time visibility throughout the supply chain is daunting. With the right strategic investments in technology, the automotive industry can meet and even surpass these expectations and better serve their customers.”

The survey results also reveal stronger preference to purchase electric vehicles (EV) in the future with more than half of consumers indicating their future preference is for a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV). However, navigating this increasing demand for EVs comes with challenges as 68% of automotive industry decision-makers say they are under high pressure to produce next generation (i.e., electric) vehicles, and 75% of them are under high pressure to deliver products that are more eco-friendly, sustainable and safer for the environment.

Trust and transparency in automotive manufacturing

Data and information transparency is highly important to consumers and fleet managers alike, and they’re seeking more visibility into the automotive ecosystem. When considering a vehicle for purchase or lease, 81% of consumers and 86% of fleet managers indicate they want to understand the origin and source of materials and parts on their vehicle. Millennials lead the way for more transparency in automotive manufacturing, with eight-in-ten saying it’s important to have access to the origin of materials and parts, knowing if source materials and parts are sustainable and understanding how the vehicle is manufactured from end-to-end.

Beyond gaining greater visibility into the automotive manufacturing process, once they have their vehicles, 88% of consumers and 86% of fleet managers want to understand how the data from their vehicles will be used by the automotive ecosystem. After a vehicle purchase, 83% of consumers and 84% of fleet managers expect ownership and control of the data their vehicle generates.

Automotive supply chain visibility

A majority of consumers and fleet managers (80%) want end-to-end visibility during the manufacturing process. However, only about one-third of automotive industry decision-makers say they will prioritise connecting real-time data systems to enable a holistic view of operations and increase visibility across production and throughout the supply chain over the next five years.

About one-third of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) said autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), RFID, rugged handheld mobile computers and scanners as well as industrial machine vision will improve supply chain management while about one-third of suppliers cite mobile barcode label/thermal printers, wearable computers and location technology as the technologies to do so.

Overall, seven-in-ten 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 across the board with 47% focused on additive manufacturing/3D printing and 45% on supply chain planning solutions.

Key regional findings

North America

  • Eighty-three percent of automotive industry decision makers agree the pace of technological innovations is accelerating at a rate their organisation is struggling to keep up with; this is the highest of any region.
  • They feel they are under pressure to build strategic partnerships with technology companies in order to cut costs and mitigate risk with next-generation mobility production (83%) as well as greater visibility across the supply chain (83%).


  • Automotive industry decision makers are increasingly focused on expanding sustainability, waste reduction, and environmental protection initiatives.
  • Twenty-seven percent say these initiatives are drivers of financial performance and growth, and 49% expect it to be within the next five years.

Asia Pacific 

  • Nineteen percent of automotive industry decision-makers foresee an increased focus on internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle production over the next five years.
  • Meanwhile, 39% of these decision-makers are also building capacity for next-generation options, such as electric vehicles.

Latin America

  • Consumers are the most concerned about the use of data collected from their vehicle at 80% compared to the global average of 74%.
  • Nearly half (47%) of fleet managers would like to see the automotive industry focus on ensuring automotive data is kept safe, secure, and private, compared to 32% globally.

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