ANN ARBOR(WWJ) – The “rust belt” is no more, according to a new study from the Center for Auto Research.
The study, sponsored by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers was scheduled to coincide with this week’s Consumer Electronics Show, and aims to show the world how high tech the auto industry really is.
“The car is really the most concentrated, technologically sophisticated piece of equipment that most people will own in their life,” said Bernard Swiecki, assistant director of the automotive communities partnership.
“We are, by very definition a high tech industry.”
The report gives a number of examples of the high tech nature of the auto industry:
The automotive industry spends nearly $100 billion globally on R&D – $18 billion per year in the U.S. alone – or an average of $1,200 for research and development per vehicle.
Key areas for development are automated and connected vehicle technologies, innovative materials, new joining methods, advanced powertrains, new safety features and alternative fuels.
There are more engineers (as measured by number of engineers per 1,000 jobs) employed by the automotive industry than by other major sectors.
An average vehicle contains around 60 microprocessors and more than 10 million lines of software code.
A hallmark of high tech industries is the clustering of research and development. For the auto industry, for example, Michigan is home to more than 330 automotive R&D companies including R&D facilities for nine of the 10 world’s largest automakers.
The auto industry is on the leading edge of using new processes such as digital engineering and nanotechnologies to improve the design and production of vehicles.
“This report confirms that today’s automobiles contain an extensive amount of technology with systems that makes these vehicles safer, cleaner, more fuel-efficient, and able to process real-time data from external sources. Further, the integration of technology into the motor vehicle is creating an unprecedented demand for workers with high-tech skills, making this one of the most exciting industries in which to be employed,” said Kim Hill, lead author of the study.
This has a major impact on the Michigan economy, says the center’s Bernard Swiecki.
“Because so much of the brainpower is concentrated in this region of the country, Michigan–as well as the whole great lakes region–qualify as a very high tech intensive area.”