As the pandemic arrived and the future of the automotive market was called into question, vehicle program activity declined. But that didn’t stop the wheels of the product cycle, Haber said. Program activity in 2019, 2020 and 2021 has slowed down as major projects have just started in the last few years.
Haber said tooling orders slowed because it wasn’t time for the next big wave. “Now it’s time,” she said.
AutoForecast Solutions expects the number of nameplates in North America to grow 18% to 249 from 2023 to 2029.
The tooling industry is a tiny corner of the automotive industry. His suppliers of many tools are relatively small employers, often privately owned and family owned. But the industry is the barometer of what lies ahead.
Tooling orders are placed two to three years before the vehicle arrives on the assembly line.
Haber estimates that the next cycle will push tooling spending to $8.3 billion in 2025.
Certainly, EVs will be a big part of vehicle development and launches in the years to come. But when it comes to making tools and parts, nothing beats traditional gasoline-powered cars and trucks. He has two reasons.
First, because EVs have fewer parts, they require fewer tools and dies to manufacture, less design work to create the components, and fewer suppliers to handle delivery.
Second, as automakers try to keep development costs down, there will be fewer model variations for EV projects, so the ripple effect of EV projects on the industry will be smaller. By comparison, the gasoline-powered Ford F-150 is an industry bonanza, as it comes in multiple trim levels and packages, each requiring unique parts.
“Conventional trucks have so many trim levels,” Haber says. “Long versions, short versions, different cabs, duals, different bumpers, different grilles, different lights, different interior he trims. All these tools have to be made.”