Automobile manufacturers ranging from General Motors to Toyota are on a mission to phase out gasoline vehicles.
Clean, electric vehicles of the future will help reduce harmful emissions and slow climate change, but this may spell disaster for the thousands of auto workers whose jobs will be rendered obsolete by new technologies and manufacturing processes.
As one might expect, workers who assemble gasoline engines, transmissions, exhaust systems, and a plethora of other non-essential parts for electric vehicles will bear the brunt of the transition. Moreover, electric motors and batteries allow automakers to keep production levels the same while employing fewer people than they would have to in the past with conventional powertrains.
According to Ford and Volkswagen, electric vehicles require 30% less labour than conventional vehicles. According to AlixPartners, an EV’s motors and battery pack require 40% less labour than an engine and transmission.
A study by the Boston Consulting Group estimates that 630,000 jobs in the automotive industry and the supply chain supporting combustion-engine vehicles will be lost in Europe as a result of the switch to electric vehicles. However, 580,000 new jobs will be made possible by the increasing need for batteries, charging infrastructure, and similar products.
“While the core automotive industry will undoubtedly suffer significant job losses,” the firm said, “some new industries that support electrification will experience tremendous job growth.” When all is said and done, policy measures to boost domestic EV production could help the United States add 150,000 automotive jobs overall, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
Displaced workers may or may not be able to find work in newly created positions. “It won’t be the same people getting new jobs.” “New jobs will often be created in new places for new people,” Smith said. Automakers and their partners are planning a slew of battery plants in the United States, but many of them will be located far from current auto manufacturing. Smith continued by saying that rechargeable batteries are an excellent choice for robotic applications.
Even office jobs are not safe. People who design systems for combustion vehicles will need to be retrained in order to apply their skills to the next generation of EVs, according to Tammy Madsen, a business professor at Santa Clara University.
According to the Wall Street Journal and other sources, Ford has confirmed that, as part of a larger restructuring, it will lay off approximately 3,000 salary and contract employees in August.
While the specifics of the emerging EV revolution are still up in the air, it is clear that the technological shift will affect both the automotive industry and the labour market, as well as the design of roads and highways.
According to Ford CEO Jim Farley, “there is no doubt that we have too many people in some places” during a recent earnings call. “We have skills that are no longer useful, and we have jobs that need to change.”
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