Cooperation Management: An Essential Enabler for Advanced Technology Development in the US 2011-01-0078
Cooperations - big, small, and all sizes in between - have become part of the very fabric of the automotive industry over the last 10-15 years. Particularly in the pursuit of advanced technologies, automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers alike have been collaborating in unprecedented numbers, forming strategic alliances and operational partnerships to exponentially increase their chances of being successful in this arena. Be it the technology, the resources, the investment dollars, or the market share, even the powerhouses of the industry realize that no one organization possesses enough of all elements to do this alone … that “marriages of convenience” can very often be the smartest, quickest path to making cost-effective alternative powertrain vehicles available to the consumer.
Are we savvy, though, as an industry, to the challenges and risks that go hand-in-hand with entering into these partnerships? From drastically different development processes to incompatible IT systems, there are roadblocks to effective knowledge-sharing and efficient resource management lurking around every corner. What are the keys to success? How do we make sure we lay a foundation for partnership that enables our engineers to cooperate effectively, that ensures all parties actually see the efficiencies and other benefits that prompted the joining of forces in the first place? Especially considering how key these cooperations have become to making advanced technologies on our roads a reality, we can ill afford not to be prepared to give them every chance of success.
This paper will examine some of the notable cooperations that were formed in the automotive industry over the last two decades for the express purpose of alternative powertrain development - from the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) in 1993 to the Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation (AFCC) in 2008. Drivers for these partnerships will be presented as well as the challenges they faced. Suggested ways these challenges can be mitigated and/or eliminated for future partnerships will be outlined using particular co-operations as case studies to highlight the past success of these solutions. Finally, upcoming technology trends, and potential cooperation models to enable them, will be presented.