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Carla Bailo to Auto Industry: ‘We Have to Carefully Rethink Everything’

supply chain future - blog

Carla Bailo has 42 years’ experience in the automotive industry, but today’s mobility revolution is unlike anything she’s seen before. President and CEO of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), Bailo will kick off the September 9th 2021 AIAG Supply Chain + International Trade Summit by providing a global industry update, including trends and an outlook through 2030. Her remarks will cover the importance of sustainability initiatives in the industry and the crucial need for resilience in the supply chain. The session will conclude with a discussion of electric and connected vehicle penetration, polices and regulations, incentives, and the consumer education needed to promote adoption of these vehicles.

Bailo, a leader in engineering and vehicle program management, has helped sustain CAR’s reputation as a respected source of objective and unbiased research, analysis, and information on the North American automotive industry. In addition to her role at CAR, Bailo was the 2016–2018 vice president of automotive for SAE International, a global association of more than 138,000 engineers and related technical experts in the aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industries.

Prior to joining CAR, she was most recently the assistant vice president for mobility research and business development at The Ohio State University. She also has 25 years of experience at Nissan North America, Inc., where she served as senior vice president of research and development. Bailo also spent 10 years at General Motors. She has a MS degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan and a BS degree in mechanical engineering from Kettering University.

In this exclusive interview, Bailo talks about the past year’s disruptions and what needs to happen for the industry to adapt successfully to the future of mobility.

AIAG: Like many industries, the automotive sector has been impacted by the pandemic with disruptive change coming from many directions. What stands out most as you think about the future of the auto industry?

Carla Bailo 1Bailo: There is a revolution in the automotive and mobility industry, including what sales look like and who’s buying what. Electric vehicles are growing in leaps and bounds, and so are light trucks.

The question is what is still needed to make widespread EV use a reality? President Biden has a plan for EVs, but there has to be a reconciling between policy and economics. Companies should not do something rash and unintended until the EV workforce they need is in place, and the EV supply chain is robust.

There is still a semi-conductor shortage and a rubber shortage. China started buying up rubber a year ago. What did they see that we didn’t see? There’s also a shortage of talent. We need to shore up our supply chain in EVs and other areas.

AIAG: What are some of the questions you have about the coming changes in mobility?

Bailo: Well, for one thing, as vehicles become more connected, who owns the data? There is a great need for continuous education and continuous learning during this time. The industry needs support and guidance. So do consumers. They have to get educated on EVs. You can’t make people buy what they don’t want.

EVs aren’t right for every application. I think hybrids and fuel cells still have a place in transportation. We have to tackle these things for the planet’s sake, but we just have to be pragmatic in how we do it so that we don’t lose jobs and promote social inequity. Most of us can’t afford an EV. We have to be very sensible.

Q: What can the 2021 Supply Chain + International Trade Summit participants expect to learn from your upcoming talk?

Bailo: I’m going to provide a really good outlook on what the industry looks like through 2030, including regulations and policies. Technology is ruling at the moment, but policy law has to catch up. We can’t make these new technologies fit into our old way of doing things, or we’re going to end up with the same problems we have now — congested and overcrowded highways. One-person-per-AV is going to leave our congestion problem exactly as it is.

We have to carefully rethink everything. This is a complex situation that needs a whole ecosystem to solve.