"It's all such an unknown," said Joe McCabe, CEO of AutoForecast Solutions.
McCabe is skeptical that all of the 88 electric vehicle manufacturers who say they will be in the market in 2025 will be turning out cars at that time.
"There are just too many hurdles to get through," he said, including persuading consumers — especially U.S. consumers — to buy them.
Whether the cars are called CASE or ACES or SAEV, suppliers are preparing to make parts for them.
It makes for an exciting industry, Bowen said.
Yanfeng, with 23 manufacturing sites and three technical centers in North America alone, needs to have a flexible manufacturing footprint that can handle a changing auto production landscape, he said. That means the company with a North American headquarters in Novi, Mich., uses sensors and data made available through Industry 4.0 programs, robots and collaborative robots and a trained work force jointly for new work that is on its doorstep.
"Those vehicles are being quoted, developed and designed now," Bowen said. "When we look at it from what we do as a supplier, we're working with the OEMs now, winning the business then designing, developing and partnering with them through launch."
Yanfeng is bidding on work now that will go into production as soon as 2021 and will require it to make interiors for a base-model car, an upscale model, an electric model and some version of an assisted drive or autonomous car.
"That's when, as a supplier that really creates the need for flexibility in the manufacturing process," Bowen said. "You can't have $20 million in capital sitting there on all of these, and then hope that the volume comes through. That's when you need the flexibility that's going to let you shift back and forth."