Automotive companies are in a dire situation, as the pandemic has tested supply chain resilience, exacerbating a perennial risk as most automotive players have long, complex supply chains spread across geographies. Companies may need to accept an increase in costs to make their supply chains more robust and resilient. Still, we would expect some of these costs to be partially offset in the long term by the benefits of technological advances, such as automation.
Now: managing the downturn
Although the easing of lockdowns in some parts of the world offers hope for large manufacturers, several large economies are still in the early phases of restarting production. As a result, 81% of automotive executives said that COVID-19 will have a severe impact on the global economy.
With most companies closing their production plants to curb the spread of the virus, workers have been let go in huge numbers. More restructuring measures such as layoffs and spending cuts could be in the offing if sales remain depressed. However, this has allowed OEMs such as GM and Volkswagen to direct some of their production capacity toward building ventilators and respirators for the broader benefit of society.
The impact of the outbreak has also been visible in the funding of mobility startups as new funding and investment exits have declined. Some of the major mobility startups with high valuations were already reeling under losses before the crisis. The sudden halt in operations has posed even more uncertainty about their economic sustainability.
As a result, there appears to be a great demand for new funding from the mobility startups, but investors seem reluctant to meet that demand; the financial outlook of these companies remains uncertain, with the COVID-19 crisis following an already slow period in the automotive industry. Almost half of automotive executives (49%) say valuations are coming down, and most of them (32%) are focusing more on a target’s business resilience when evaluating a transaction. However, we might witness a gradual pickup in the investments and valuations once the situation normalizes and mobility players adapt to the new normal.