2021 Center for Automotive Research Annual Report

Dear friends of CAR,


On behalf of the CAR team, I would like to thank you for your support of our work in 2021. The engagement and support of the mobility industry continues to be critical to the success of the Center for Automotive Research since our founding as an independent nonprofit in 2003.

This year, CAR recognizes its 18th anniversary as a standalone nonprofit organization. Our mission is:

To produce independent research, convene stakeholders, and analyze critical issues facing the mobility industry and its impact on the economy and society.

As an independent, nonprofit research organization with a multi-disciplinary approach, CAR engages with leaders in the global automotive and mobility industry to support technology advancements and improve the competitiveness of the U.S. automotive industry. We succeed through close collaboration and strong relationships with automakers, suppliers, industry associations, educational institutions and government, nonprofits, and labor organizations.

Our team was thrilled to see so many of you in person again at our annual flagship conference, the CAR Management Briefing Seminars. This year we celebrated our 56th year in Traverse City, MI, with over 560 attendees who joined us live and over 250 attendees who joined us online.

CAR’s research is the engine that drives the conference and all of our other work. The automotive and mobility industries are increasingly dynamic, and the challenges that have come with this year have been a distinct example of that. As automotive manufacturers and suppliers work to shape the future, we understand that you must still meet near-term goals in an uncertain business and regulatory environment. CAR’s research supports your efforts and provides critical insights to help you achieve your goals and further the automotive industry’s recovery and success.

This report provides an overview of the research completed by CAR in 2021. It is not an exhaustive list, and new topics of relevance to research will need to be explored in 2022 and beyond. We value your input into shaping those topic areas.

Our work remains collaborative, and we will continue to exemplify the value and importance of industry-wide collaboration across all areas. Through the unique position that CAR holds, we work together to enhance the recovery and success of the automotive and mobility industries.

The team at CAR wishes you a prosperous and healthy 2022.


Kind regards,

Carla Bailo
President & CEO


CAR conducts leading-edge research that impacts the future of the global automotive industry by informing corporate leaders and policymakers and facilitating communication across all stakeholders in the industry.


 The State of Industry X in Automotive

JANUARY  |  ​With the support of a unique and powerful consortium of technology companies, the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) investigated the state of Industry X in automotive. Although the research included mostly North American participants and thus presented a North American perspective, the participating companies are global.

Industry X acknowledges that the pace of change has become so rapid that it no longer makes sense to think of manufacturing and production as advancing in discrete stages. The digital technologies that gave rise to the concept of “Industry 4.0” have continued to improve. No organization can reasonably aspire to adopt a state-of-the-art digital enterprise architecture because “state-of-the-art” is sure to advance by some degree by the time a new enterprise architecture is deployed.

This project presents an ecosystem approach to Industry X research. Industry X is a massive, complex, and rapidly evolving sector. The CAR research team thinks it is unlikely that any entity or individual can fully comprehend the depth and breadth of Industry X. To use a well-worn phrase, it takes a village to implement—and research—Industry X. The CAR Industry X ecosystem team consists of Hardware (Dell and Intel), Data Management (Cloudera), Digital Automation and Analytics (Rockwell Automation and PTC), Consulting (Accenture), and Cloud Infrastructure (Microsoft Azure). These companies provided financial support—but equally important, they provided the CAR research team with unmatched technical and strategic knowledge and perspective. The CAR researcher’s interaction with the industry and the consortium members throughout the project proved that no one participant has all the answers. A collaborative ecosystem would be a beneficial environment for all of these stakeholders.

Vehicle Mass Reduction Roadmap Study 2025-2035

MARCH  |  ​The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Committee on Assessment of Technologies for Improving Fuel Economy of Light-Duty Vehicles, Phase 3 was tasked by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with providing estimates of the potential cost, fuel economy improvements, and barriers to deployment of technologies for improving fuel economy in 2025-2035 light-duty vehicles. The National Academies Committee investigated the state of vehicle mass reduction technology readiness and the impact of mass reduction on fuel economy while maintaining vehicle performance and safety requirements.

NASEM commissioned the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) to study vehicle mass reduction for model years 2025-2035. Over the past decade, CAR has been a leader in light-duty vehicle mass reduction research. CAR previously did work on assessing the real-world barriers to implementing mass reduction technologies (J. Baron, 2016). CAR also worked with nine global vehicle manufacturers to examine material trends over the next decade (Baron & Modi, 2016). The project still stands as one of the most cooperative and thorough analyses done to date. CAR collected data on 42 vehicles from 4 segments representing 50 percent of the U.S. light-duty fleet. Most recently, CAR has published a Materials and Manufacturing Technology Roadmap (Modi & Vadhavkar).

The Industrial Heartland Case Study

FINAL REPORT TO BE RELEASED IN 2022  | The Industrial Heartland case study focuses on Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana and the contained Midwestern motor vehicles manufacturing region.

Ohio and Indiana are highly susceptible to future climate damages, particularly with respect to high heat, extreme rainfall, and water stress. Michigan’s environmental future is relatively less fraught, but the state could eventually shoulder the burdens of its southern neighbors as they face increasing climate damages. The region’s economic future is integrally tied to its motor vehicles manufacturing industry—any future planning should confront rapid changes in that sector accompanied by the electrification of transportation. All three states are densely populated, stand to retire substantial fossil infrastructure, and must consider a transition away from traditional energy sources across all sectors (electricity, transportation & buildings).

A Brief Review of Proposed Rulemaking: The Revised 2023 and Later Model Year Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards

DECEMBER  |  On 10 August 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the Proposed Revision to the 2023 and Later Model Year Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking functions as a revision to the regulations for the model years (MY) 2023-2026, which the Trump Administration’s Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicle Rules established for Model Years 2021-2026. As with the previous rulemaking, the EPA welcomed comments from relevant industries and organizations. The comment period for the Proposed Rule lasted until 27 September 2021 and included a virtual public hearing held on 25 August 2021. The EPA is expected to announce a final rule by the end of 2021.

For a quick primer, CAR has prepared a short summary of the proposed rule. A Brief Review of Proposed Rulemaking: The Revised 2023 and Later Model Year Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards highlights key points and presents selected stakeholder reactions to the proposal.


CAR researchers produce feature stories throughout the year to cover critical issues impacting the industry today while also addressing topics that may affect the future.


​Chip Shortage and Other Supply Chain Disruptions

The ongoing chip shortage, among other supply chain disruptions, continues to be the most discussed topic of the year, especially as these issues are expected to persist well into 2022. The automotive industry is among the few who have borne the brunt of the impact, with steadily increasing car prices and relentlessly low inventories. As new COVID-19 variants add cause for concern, this crisis remains a volatile situation that requires collaboration, vigilance, and continued discussion.


The Biden Administration

Under a new political administration, the automotive industry faced numerous levels of scrutiny in 2021. The Biden Administration’s policies on climate, the economy, racial equity, international relations, and trade significantly affect automotive and other mobility sectors. The recently passed Infrastructure Bill and not yet passed Build Back Better Bill, both with a heavy emphasis on an electrified future, pose many new implications for both industry stakeholders and consumers across the globe. CAR will continue to analyze the global impact of this legislation and future legislation in the years to come.  


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Mobility

While Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives have been a standard HR practice for some companies for some time, it was not until recent years that the importance of DEI was recognized and embraced by the automotive and mobility industries. Industry stakeholders must acknowledge DEI across all sectors of their work, as DEI initiatives are fundamental to the workforce’s sustainability and the success of smart mobility solutions. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are interconnected with CAR’s mission and values and are critical to ensuring the well-being of our employees and the stakeholders we serve.


Sustainability in the Automotive Industry

Sustainability’s role in the automotive industry has grown significantly over the last decade but has become a strategic priority for many in recent years. With many driving factors behind this change, industry stakeholders recognize they must incorporate all environmental, social, and governance elements of sustainability across the supply chain. Company sustainability reports and net-zero goals announced by automakers and suppliers have been at the center of the conversation, but questions of the ‘who’ and the ‘how’ remain.

The CAR team is committed to supporting a sustainable automotive and mobility industry and will keep track of evolving customer expectations and progress automotive companies are making towards a more sustainable future.


EV and BEV Technologies, Consumer Acceptance, and Infrastructure

2021 has undoubtedly been the year of the electric vehicle. With never-before-seen investments from automakers, significant legislature involving EVs and infrastructure, new EV technologies, and increased competition, the industry has made bold strides towards widespread EV adoption this year. However, industry stakeholders agree that challenges still lie ahead. Charging infrastructure, consumer acceptance of EVs, equity, and gas taxes are just a few of the many elements that must be considered.



In 2018, CAR began offering webinars. The massive digital shift due to the COVID-19 pandemic has provided CAR the opportunity to provide or participate in over 15 webinars in 2021. More than 1,800 persons have participated in public CAR webinars this year. Attendees have the opportunity to participate in the webinars in real-time or view the recordings on our website. CAR Affiliates hosted or co-hosted a handful of the webinars we produced, allowing them to demonstrate their organization’s subject matter expertise.


  • Electric vehicle infrastructure a new mindset – Sponsored by PwC (2/4/2021)  |  Watch Webinar
  • Aluminum Battery Enclosure Design for Electric Vehicles (2/11/2021)  |  Watch Webinar
  • Polymer Composite Battery Enclosure Design for Electric Vehicles (2/18/2021)  |  Watch Webinar
  • Steel Battery Enclosure Design for Electric Vehicles (2/25/2021)  |  Watch Webinar
  • Altair Enlighten Award Webinar Series – Lighweighting Enabling Technology, and Future of Lightweighting (3/24/2021)  |  Watch Webinar**
  • Women in the Workforce – How COVID-19 Exposed Workforce Inequality and What Leaders Should Do About It (4/7/2021)  |  Watch Webinar**
  • Altair Enlighten Award Webinar Series – Full Vehicle, and Module Lightweighting (4/14/2021)  |  Watch Webinar**
  • Sustainability: Emerging Technologies and Processes – An Enlighten Award Webinar (4/22/2021)  |  Watch Webinar**
  • Bridging the Gap to Safe Autonomous Systems (6/9/2021)  |  Watch Webinar**
  • Space Resilience for Automakers (6/16/2021)  |  Watch Webinar
  • Future Connectivity & In-Vehicle Cybersecurity: Know Your Rights (6/30/2021)  |  Watch Webinar**
  • Paintline Operating Efficiencies with PPG OPTIMA SOLUTIONS™ (9/22/2021)  |  Watch Webinar**
  • The Five Keys to Transforming Data Architectures for the Automotive Market (10/21/2021)  |  Watch Webinar**
  • Affiliate Exclusive Webinar: CAR & SEMI Present – Chip Shortage Impact on Automotive (10/27/2021)
  • Successfully Navigating Supply Chain Disruptions – Sponsored by PwC (10/28/2021)  |  Watch Webinar

** Indicates Affiliate-led Webinar


The team at CAR was thrilled to launch The CAR Podcast in 2021. We welcome our listeners to join CAR’s President and CEO, Carla Bailo, CAR subject matter experts and guests as they discuss the latest news from the automotive industry. CAR Affiliates have the opportunity to submit guest speakers and topic ideas for a dynamic discussion as a program benefit.


In 2021, CAR MBS once again brought together the top minds and decision-makers in the mobility industry to discuss the challenge to adapt and thrive amid a global pandemic, parts shortages, and a new political administration. Critical topics covered at CAR MBS include Sustainability, Trade, EV Technology, Policy, and Consumer Acceptance, Workforce Diversity, Automaker/Supplier Relationships, Industry 4.0, Automotive Outlook, Future of Mobility, and much more.



These focus areas are dependent on our research clients, Affiliates, and ACP Members, including you. We are always open to input on areas of research we should explore.

  • Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)
  • Artificial Intelligence in Knowledge Management
  • Automotive Cybersecurity
  • Connected & Automated Vehicle Technology
  • Data & Data Monetization
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Economic Modeling
  • Energy Infrastructure
  • Forecasting & Economics
  • Fuel Economy & Regulations
  • Industry X
  • Infrastructure Modernization
  • Lifecycle Analysis
  • Manufacturing & Materials
  • Mobility as a Service (MaaS)
  • Product & Markets
  • Propulsion
  • Public Policy & Regulations
  • Smart Cities / Urban Planning
  • Smart Mobility
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainability
  • The Convergence of Technologies and Industries
  • Workforce Development
  • Workplace of the Future

CAR 2022 Events

More webinars and other events will be added and listed on the CAR website throughout the year.


  • CAR Affiliates Networking Dinner at CES 2022
  • Automotive Communities Partnership Meetings
  • Affiliates Roundtable Working Group Meeting


  • CAR Affiliates Spring Industry Briefing
  • Automotive Communities Partnership Meetings
  • Affiliates Roundtable Working Group Meeting


  • CAR Management Briefing Seminars, August 2-4, 2022, Traverse City, MI
  • CAR Affiliates NAIAS Networking Dinner
  • Automotive Communities Partnership Meetings
  • Affiliates Roundtable Working Group Meeting


  • Automotive Communities Partnership Meetings
  • Affiliates Roundtable Working Group Meetings

Ways to Engage with the CAR Community in 2022

  • Ask us to present at a company meeting or event—or—ask us to co-present at an upcoming industry event
  • Send us your research questions
  • Ask us to give a company webinar for your company
  • Pitch us an Affiliates webinar idea and/or participate in an Affiliates webinar as a speaker
  • Pitch us as Affiliates podcast idea and/or participate in an Affiliates podcast as a guest
  • Pitch us an Affiliates Dinner or Industry Briefing idea and/or participate as a speaker at an Affiliates Dinner or Industry Briefing
  • Host a CAR Industry Briefing
  • Submit a speaker for CAR MBS
  • Become a sponsor or exhibitor at CAR MBS


2021 presented the automotive and mobility industry with complex challenges not seen before, and the industry remains resilient in the face of these challenges. Industry stakeholders must carefully track and adapt to current trends across all social, economic, regulatory, and technological sectors in the years to come.

CAR will research and analyze the issues impacting your work and success with your continued support in the coming year. Together we will shape the mobility industry of tomorrow.

How can CAR work for you?

Our research team consistently delivers products that help organizations, just like yours, navigate the ever-changing automotive and mobility industries. For more information on how we can help you, contact:

Shaun Whitehouse
Global Industry Liaison, Marketing and Development Lead
Center for Automotive Research
[email protected]

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