The automotive industry is currently undergoing profound economic and technological structural change. Globalization of production and sales, electrification, networking and autonomous driving – these are only some of the keywords that are having an effect on the industry.
All automobile manufacturers are in the process of reviewing their business models, their technology portfolio and their global location structures. The market is to be stimulated with a barely manageable flood of new models, while systems in the area of information and communication technology – which used to be a rather peripheral issue of the small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) in the automotive industry – are suddenly at the heart of corporate strategies. Apple, Google & Co. are being perceived as future competitors, R&D departments being set up in China, and the electrification of the powertrain is already in full swing. Even those who are not deeply involved in this business can see: No stone will be left unturned in the industry.
It is obvious that these changes will affect the future value structure in the automotive industry and thus also have an effect on the cooperation between manufacturers and suppliers. And as always in such a process of structural change, there will be risks and opportunities, winners and losers.
The industry giants such as Bosch, Continental and ZF Friedrichshafen have already responded to these changes and are in the process of realigning themselves strategically as well as operationally. But what about the many small and medium-sized automotive suppliers that still form the backbone of this industry? Will they gradually be pushed out of the automotive value chain? Or will they wither away and become the extended workbench of the major players? Given the fact that they are permanently subjected to price and cost pressure, do they even have a chance of survival in a high-wage country like Germany?
These are the issues dealt with by the study at hand, the focus of which lies on the challenges and prospects of small and medium-sized automotive suppliers. In this context the following should be made clear: Company size is important, but what is vital for the survival in this industry is the willingness to strike new paths in terms of corporate strategy and technology and to rigorously pursue them. This requires a profound understanding of the respective trends that will shape the automotive industry in the coming years and a sense of where new opportunities for growth and profitability will arise. At the same time, possible risks should be carefully observed. Finally, SMEs in particular always have to keep an eye on their financial and human resources, without which an active growth strategy would be built on sand.
The study at hand invites you to initiate and successfully conclude a strategy finding process in your company. That requires a holistic view of the business environment as well as the internal processes and resources. Only then can the areas of action be identified and assessed that need to be revised if your business is to accomplish the leap into the next decade of the automobile.
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