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How to prepare for an automotive downturn

Whilst auto markets in the US and Europe have enjoyed unprecedented growth in recent years, momentum is starting to slow, according to a new report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

The precise timing of the next downturn is difficult to predict, but when it hits, the impact will be unlike anything the auto industry has experienced.This is further exacerbated by the need to invest into new technologies and alliances to ensure long term survival 

The automotive sector illustrates the difficulties faced by industry with worsening consumer sentiment, loan delinquencies and newcomers looking for disruption.

BCG’s latest report, ‘An Automotive Downturn Is Coming – It’s Time to Prepare‘, advises on the measures that can help automotive companies prepare and respond by creating a downturn plan, building this into existing processes and making appropriate investments:

  • Simplify the offering. Free up resources by reviewing products and programmes that are not aligned to the company’s long-term ambitions to accelerate development of critical consumer-facing features.
  • Adopt a new approach to product cost. Create supply optionality and identify opportunities that drive. efficiency. Use digital tools and dashboards to improve data sharing and transparency.
  • Reinvigorate manufacturing productivity. Pressure-test manufacturing against different volume scenarios to prepare for demand fluctuations. Apply this to operations too.
  • Maximise net price realization. Build granular price effectiveness rather than resorting to discounts.
  • Strengthen go-to market planning. Perform downturn-specific segmentation to anticipate which customers will be most affected by a downturn. Develop differential marketing strategies.
  • Build a leaner, faster, more flexible organisation. Use the downturn as a time to strategically realign resources to embed agile ways of working and accelerate results.
  • Be clear on where to invest. Ensure critical long-term investments are not jeopardized.

It’s increasingly clear that the automotive industry is in the early stages of a downturn, but while contractions create uncertainty, they also introduce significant opportunities to drive value for the long-term. Act quickly and decisively to embrace a new more strategic playbook and emerge stronger. 

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