The automobile is at a turning point, unprecedented in its 100+ years of history. Rising gas prices, stricter fuel economy standards, a progressively more environmentally conscious customer base and forward-looking business models are all breaking the traditional automotive ecosystem. In response, OEMs are evolving their partnership webs in order to endure and compete.
This week’s graphic comes from a recent Lux Research report in which analysts examined the growing web of cross‐cutting industry relationships to see how automakers compared on the Lux Partnership Grid. Companies were scored on two metrics, partnership strength and technology diversity. Based on these scores, each automaker fell into one of the four quadrants in the graphic above.
Lone Wolves represent OEMs that are continuing business as usual, and have little footprint in the emerging technologies that threaten the status quo. The Dilute ecosystem quadrant encompasses automakers with a few partnerships scattered across a variety of technologies. The Siloed ecosystem includes OEMs that are putting their faith in a few, or in some cases one technology, while the Expansive ecosystem hosts OEMs who average nearly 16 partnerships apiece, representing an average of eight unique technologies.
A review of the partnership grid reveals multiple trends:
- Small companies tend to cluster in the Lone Wolves region, while large corporations partner ambitiously in a variety of areas so they group more in the Expansive quadrant. One exception is Fiat-Chrysler, which has only three, unsubstantial partnerships to its name.
- Daimler, GM, and Toyota lead the pack. All have formed strong partnerships in pursuit of technical diversity, placing them squarely in the Expansive ecosystem. Daimler has developed partnerships that span multiple key emerging technologies, including a JV with Toray to make carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) (Client registration required), a JV with Evonik (Li-Tec) to make Li-ion batteries (Client registration required), and participation in Europe’s Clean Energy Partnership for establishing fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen fueling infrastructure.
- Meanwhile, General Motors (GM) has emerged from a low point in its corporate history to emerge as a future looking company by partnering in a variety of technologies, and investing in companies at a variety of stages. It has invested in battery start-ups like Envia Systems (Client registration required) and Sakti3 (Client registration required), and in the fuels space with ethanol companies Mascoma (Client registration required) and Coskata (Client registration required). In the materials space, GM also sees value in CFRP, forming a JV with Japanese materials company Teijin.
- Lastly, Toyota is leveraging its leadership in hybrids, to position itself for advances elsewhere, such as advanced electrification (via its investment in Tesla). It also retains activity in hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles and infrastructure, where it teamed with Air Products and Shell to install the first pipeline-fed hydrogen station in the U.S. In materials, Toyota has partnered with Toray to source CFRP initially used for the hood and roof of one of its Lexus models. As with Daimler and GM, these activities will prepare Toyota to profit from an ever changing landscape where the vehicle of tomorrow may not look like anything conceived today, but will no doubt carry key technologies in the areas of energy storage, increased connectivity, and new materials.
Source: Lux Research report “Under the Hood: Mapping Automotive Innovations to Megatrends.”