Robots might bring car production back to Europe and the US

We recently reported on how some experts believe robots are coming to take our jobs away, but there's another effect we haven't taken into consideration – the localisation of work.

According to Donald Walker, Chief Executive of auto supplier Magna, robots might help car makers bring the production back home, instead of having it in cheaper countries.

In a discussion with Reuters during the Frankfurt auto show, Walker said robots coul help repatriate some car manufacturing work away from low-cost locations like China back to factories in Germany and North America.

Countries like China are seeing a rise in wages, and the transport of heavy components such as electric car batteries into Europe may lead established car makers to introduce more highly efficient automated manufacturing closer to home.

"If you have a high labor, easy-to-ship part, it has already gone, for the most part, to a low-cost jurisdiction," Walker said about the evolution of assembly work in the car manufacturing business.

"A bigger issue is how fast do you have intelligent robotics replace manual labor everywhere in the world," Walker said.

Hybrid and electric cars are getting more and more popular, and car manufacturers are seeing an increase in demand for large batteries, Walker explained.

"If you look at a battery, it is a big heavy thing to ship. The things that hold the battery, the bumpers, the wheels, those are big bulky parts," Walker said.

"I think you will still see cars made where the market is. And based on that, the big bulky parts and a lot of the technology in there, will probably be made locally," Walker said.