Looking forward to our discussion on Wed, Oct 20

October 16, 2010 Leave a comment

I am really looking forward to meeting those attending the SAE Convergence Conference on Wednesday, October 20 at Cobo Center in Detroit.

Our “chat” begins promptly at 8 am in room W1-54.

Here are some ideas for our discussion.  To make the session effective for you what would you like to hear discussed?

  1. What do we think the market share of ICE, hybrids, PHEV’s, and EV’s will be in 2020? Ditto for 2030? 
  2.  Should we include Fuel Cell vehicles?
  3. What new car companies will emerge? 
  4.  Will Tesla motors and other small EV companies survive and thrive?
  5.  Today the Leaf costs $32k and the Volt $40k.  Can they compete without subsidies and how low will the price be by 2020 allowing for reasonable ROI
  6.  Will major OEMs make their own electric powertrain components (motors, batteries and power electronics) or will they cede the market to suppliers?
  7.  What will be the impact of the Chinese “share to play” policy do to intellectual property and how will non-Chinese companies deal with it?
  8.  Are we going to see partnerships between major OEM’s until the market develops and then what?
  9.  Are we going to see partnerships between electric utilities, charging station makers and OEM’s?

Today’s Wall Street Journal demonstrates how things have changed

Today’s Headline in the Wall Street Journal shows how things have changed. Here is the first paragraph based on statements that GM’s vice Chairman made at the Paris Autohsow

PARIS—General Motors Co. has begun seeking out potential partnerships and tie-ups with other auto makers in hopes of cutting costs and sharing the burden of developing new technologies.

The move signals a significant shift in strategy. Before GM was reorganized in bankruptcy court last year its management and board took the view that the company was large enough to achieve economies of scale and develop most technologies on its own.

I hope  that some of you reading this will come to the Convergence session and discuss the implications of this and all the other talk of partenerships.

Recent examples of collaboration

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Two news stories in the last couple of weeks show the changes in collaboration

1.      China is demanding that companies form minority joint ventures in order to sell xEV vehicles in China.  Interesting how this forced collaboration will play out.  Clearly non Chinese companies want to protect their intellectual property and the aim of the directive is to share with their Chinese partners the technology.  

Since China has a porous system for protecting IP that would be something to discuss

2.     Toyota is talking to Daimler about sharing xEV technology.  In the past OEM’s have jointly developed engines and often whole vehicles.  Traditionally electronics and motors have been provided by suppliers.  Clearly many of the major OEM’s want to make these components since they are fundamental to their future.  

Are we coing to see more collaborations between OEM’s or is this a temporary phenomenon until/if the xEV market really takes off.

Let’s start the discussion

September 12, 2010 Leave a comment

As everything in the automotive industry, relationships are changing at an accelerating rate, especially in North America.  US OEM’s from the 60’s to the late 90’s designed and built electric and hybrid vehicles mostly in house.  In the last ten years, the US OEMs, having shed their component divisions, had to find new partnerships.   European OEM’s have always relied on highly competent suppliers for many aspects of the vehicle and thus they had generally tight partnerships.  Japanese and Korean OEMs also relied on partners where the OEM often had a financial stake in the supplier.  The rapidly developing Chinese industry relies on a combination of Chinese suppliers and localized suppliers from all over the world who established not only manufacturing plants in China but also R&D facilities.

 The advent of xEV’s (hybrids, plug-in hybrids, extended range hybrids and pure electric vehicles) has complicated the picture since most OEMs do not have sufficient expertise in the new components such as batteries, electrical machines and power electronics.  An altogether different kind of partnership is also emerging worldwide. Governments are taking an active role in R&D, as well as funding investments in manufacturing.  Even individual cities are offering inducements installing charging stations etc.  The final change is that with the glamour that accompanies xEV’s even private equity firms are investing in the business.

What does all this mean to the OEMs? They are responsible for the performance and durability of these new vehicles they have to juggle a whole host of new relationships.  How does this affect established suppliers?  Finally will there be brand new suppliers that have to learn how tough the requirements of the automotive industry are.

Welcome to the “Chat with the Expert” blog for SAE Convergence 2010

September 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Hi – I would like you to join me in a discussion about very timely and relevant issues facing the automotive industry. In particular, we’ll be focused on the implications of electrical/electronics in passengers cars.

Join me and about 4000 other automotive engineers at the SAE Convergence Conference in Detroit, October 19-20, 2010.