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A State of Design & Make Special Edition

Spotlight on Automotive

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Pacing the field

Since its inception, the automotive industry has been driving the world forward. The widespread availability of consumer vehicles in the early 20th century changed how people lived, how cities were built, and how companies recruited workers. Today, automakers are pursuing innovations including electrification and autonomous driving, while navigating global uncertainty and responding to the changing demands of both consumers and workers.

Despite this history of evolution and adaptation, recent research shows that those working in automotive don’t believe their industry can handle change as well as others. According to data collected for Autodesk’s State of Design & Make report —a global survey of nearly 2,500 leaders and experts—only 44% of people in automotive and transportation agree their industry is prepared to handle global change. This is below the 49% who agree in other design and manufacturing sectors and the 52% who agree across all industries. Leaders and experts in automotive and transportation are also more likely to say that their supply chain is fragile (61%, compared to 55% in other design and manufacturing sectors).

This survey data, as well as interviews with leaders in the automotive space, show the key challenges facing the industry today, the steps companies are taking to solve those challenges, and several areas of actionable best practices. The interviews also highlight the areas where other sectors can learn from the industry.

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What are the key challenges your
company or industry is facing today?

“For automotive design, this moment of learning, implementing, and experimenting with artificial intelligence is a very big challenge, but not in a negative way. Every transformation is a challenge, because at the end of the day, we are humans, and I’m responsible for our team of people. These people have to feel comfortable with the change. It’s not only a tool, but it’s also a mindset that has to change.”

— Joaquin Garcia, Head of Design for Italdesign

“We have more car companies today than ever. All you need is an electric engine, and you put a body on it, and you’ve got a car. But the reality is, it has to drive on the road, it has to protect its occupants, and you have to be
able to reproduce it several hundred thousand times. That may not be a challenge for the companies that are mature, but it is a challenge for all these new companies that are coming up.”

— Ehab Kaoud, Former Chief Designer for Trucks and SUVs at Ford


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