Hyundai Motor Co. startled the auto industry in 2020 when it unveiled its newest concept vehicle to the public: an electric-powered, rotary-driven flying taxi with a proposed 60-mile range and the ability to recharge in less than 10 minutes.
The South Korean auto maker's vision also will need networks of urban flight hubs on the ground, served by fleets of electric people movers to shuttle passengers to their final destinations.
The unanswered question to Hyundai's unasked question: Who among the world's traditional auto suppliers will rise to the challenge of converting the vision into a reality?
Clearly, the auto industry is changing, and as a result, so are the parts companies that make all of its pieces. But they are not all changing in the same strategic way.
Auto maker investment in electric drivetrains, connected vehicles and self-driving technology is pushing the world's largest suppliers to reshape themselves for a future that might only barely resemble their past.
Evolving industry trends—particularly the long-term waning of internal combustion engines—are prompting parts makers to examine their legacy product portfolios, reconsider past revenue assumptions and tilt their R&D spending toward new priorities.
Three global leaders illustrate those changing outlooks and that there are differences of opinion about which way to pivot and what strategy to pursue.
German megasupplier Bosch—the world's largest parts and technology company, with $46.56 billion in sales to auto makers in 2019—is confident that a primary key to continued growth will be vehicle software. Bosch is launching a business unit that groups its expansive software talent from product areas around the world under one umbrella.
At the same time, Japan's largest supplier, Denso Corp., is placing its bets on reinventing its strategic core. Traditionally a maker of air conditioners, instrument clusters and gasoline and diesel engine parts, Denso has begun reorganizing itself to pursue new fields, including electrification, automated driving and even urban air mobility.
Hyundai Mobis, South Korea's largest parts maker and a bedrock supplier of Hyundai Motor, is bolstering its position in electrification as well as connected vehicles and autonomous driving.
But no one is etching into stone plans for the future. Regardless of their individual strategies, parts makers are exploring myriad opportunities to stay relevant amid shifting industry demands.
Here's a glimpse into the changes underway at these three suppliers.
The supplier of powertrain solutions, electronics and vehicle technology is positioning itself to be the industry's go-to for software-intensive electronics systems with its new Cross-Domain Computing Solutions unit, which was scheduled to launch Jan. 1.
The organization draws engineers from Bosch's multimedia, powertrain solutions, chassis systems control and automotive electronics divisions. It will make the company's work on automotive software more efficient, Bosch North America President Mike Mansuetti told Automotive News.
For Mansuetti, the disruptive moment also is an opportunity to build a better Bosch.
"There was a lot of overlap in the group, so I'm looking forward to being able to streamline—especially some of the inefficiencies we have with different components being in different business units," he said.
"Now, we can take all these people, combine them, talk with that group of people with the customer and really drive those solutions forward and understand—whether it be the new architecture in the vehicle or help even develop the customers in that new architecture—what can we do for them?" Mansuetti said.
Bosch also is betting much of its future on electrification as customers continue to invest more in electric vehicles.