The automotive industry is undoubtedly the largest employer of robots, as a new record of one million robots operational in the automotive industry is reached. According to the International Federation of Robotics, this industry also has the largest number of robots that are currently working in factories.
As said by the President of the International Federation of Robotics, Marina Bill, “The automotive industry effectively invented automated manufacturing,”, adding that “Today, robots are playing a vital role in enabling this industry’s transition from combustion engines to electric power. Robotic automation helps car manufacturers manage the wholesale changes to long-established manufacturing methods and technologies.”
The level of factory automation is impressive, as leading car manufacturing countries have a significant number of robots per 10,000 employees. As an example, South Korea has 2,867 units per 10,000, Germany – 1,500, the U.S. – 1,457, and Japan – 1,422 (2021 data). China has 772 per 10,000 workers but is rapidly improving this number, as over half of the total new robot installations were in the Chinese automotive manufacturing industry, as of 2021.
Car manufacturers are actively investing in the automation of their vehicle assembly lines, not just limited to basic tasks, but also final assembly and finishing. Moreover, it is expected that industrial robots will become smaller in size, easily programmable, and more affordable, meaning that also smaller small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in this industry would automate quickly.
As the targets for the energy transition toward carbon neutrality are accelerating the demand for Electric Vehicles (EVs), car manufacturers are forced and focused on investments that would answer these changes in the automotive industry. Many countries around the world, such as the EU, the U.S., and China already have exact targets for the sale end of internal combustion engines (EU), or for the market share of EV sales.