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What German car makers can learn from Tesla

PA Consulting’s insight into the impact of CO2 regulations and electric vehicles on car manufacturing is featured in an article in Produktion. The article explains that Tesla has a head start of several years in the production of electric cars.

The article goes on to say that the popularity of e-mobility is slowly picking up and Tesla dominates the market with 361,000 newly registered vehicles in 2019. After the Chinese companies BYD, BAIC and SAIC, BMW and VW follow in fifth (115,000) and sixth (93,000) in the rankings. Tesla has the edge over other manufacturers in vehicle control technology, software and computing units.

The article draws on expertise from Michael Schweikl, automotive expert at PA Consulting, who highlights that solutions in the areas of control of battery performance, power demand, battery management, route planning, thermal management will be key success factors in the manufacture of electric vehicles. He points out Tesla has an integrated system implemented as a 'brain', which also contains AI features”. In addition, this system can be upgraded wirelessly through its software 'at the touch of a button' – an example of how the total value chain and service are changing.

The piece also sets out the view of Isaak Georgiadis, production expert at PA Consulting, who expects more diverse interaction between car manufacturers and suppliers. Open platforms, such as the modular electric drive kit from Volkswagen, have opened up new opportunities. In the future, the company could take over the assembly of vehicles for other car makers who want to build on their platform. Isaak identified multiple possibilities for repositioning and implementation of new business models along the entire value chain and in the lifecycle of vehicles”.

Michael expects that at least 20% of the value chain will be redistributed and that battery technology will make the previous technology lose its 'value', for example in engine technology know-how and patents. Car makers previously had ownership of the technological competence but this is now shifting to the battery manufacturers: This know-how essentially determines the performance and cost structure of BEV”. Once the technological competence no longer lies with the car makers, they become dangerously dependent on some large suppliers.

Both the companies’ own production and the supply chain are affected by the CO2 emissions issue. Michael sees a new type of supply chain emerging in which the automotive industry, to date, lacks experience: “We are moving towards a consumer electronics supply chain, which will be a challenge for all car makers because the pace is increasing enormously compared to the existing supply chains”.

Isaak sees that some manufacturers are well positioned for the new world of production, including BMW and Porsche. BMW will need to expand on its many years of experience with the i3 over the next few years and use it faster and more efficiently. However, VW faces greater challenges in successfully converting all its corporate brands in the given time or at least expanding its portfolio.

Read the full artile in German in Produktion

Driving into a low emissions future: How can car makers look beyond 2021

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