Any a collaborative drive connecting multiple factors from customer

Any Innovation
can be classified into 2 types: Incremental and Radical innovation. Incremental
innovation is the innovation that has taken place in IC engine power train over
the past years, that has led to the reliable powertrains we have in the IC
engine cars today. Radical innovation is the change from traditional to
electric power train. The industry looks forward for this radical innovation as
it changes the basic structure and pulls the world into to a new level of
technology establishing a new basement for further incremental innovations to
take place. This will challenge the competence of many suppliers.

 

Considering the
number of patents getting registered in automotive industry as a benchmark for
direction of innovation propagation, from the year 1990 till the year 2013 the
total number of patents across the world in IC engine technology is 44,346 in
Hybrid vehicle technology is 15,030 in Electric vehicle technology is 12,331
and in fuel cell technology is 19,375. 40 The trend shows that across the
years all the research has been made to step away from the traditional
combustion engine technology. The total number of patents also shows that from
the 3 alternative drive options, fuel cell technology has the most number of
patents.

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The existing IC
engine powertrain benefits largely from the scale of economies and rich supplier
network. This brings a lock in situation that restricts and delays radical
change for moving into new lines of technology. The only way to break free is
to have a collaborative drive connecting multiple factors from customer behavior
to government and a sustainable business plan from the automakers that can
construct the change. It can be considered that with time, the dominance of IC
engines will slowly fade out giving way to Alternative powertrains.

 

The manufacturers
for making a large-scale investment have 3 options of alternative powertrains
to choose from i.e. full electric, fuel cell and hybrid. Of the three, the
hybrid technology appears lucrative as apart from additional cost for the
technology, it can be fitted into existing cars. Even though it is a good
alternative for reducing the emission levels, it does not prove to be the most
effective path for the zero emission future. This leaves the option to choose
from fuel cell and full electric vehicles.

 

The fuel cell
comes with two problems. One is the large space required inside the vehicle to
place hydrogen storage tank for obtaining optimum range and two is the safety
issues related to the storage of the hydrogen. Fuel cell vehicles are most
effective when applied to large load carrying vehicles such as trucks. The
trucks mostly traverse the highways making it easier to strategically plan the
fueling stations. Trucks have large space for the Hydrogen tank storage. In the
emission free future Hydrogen fuel cell is a progressive option for heavy
vehicles however are impractical when operated in smaller vehicles such as
cars. 41

 

Table 1: Alternate drivetrain portfolio Source: Company website

 

In Germany, The
manufacturers have experimented with all the options of alternate powertrain.

The German makers Volkswagen, Mercedes and BMW are currently offering hybrid
versions of their existing models without any major change of platform. For
mass-producing electric vehicles, new platform has to be developed. The 3
companies are developing a stable platform for electric vehicles. BMW is
currently leading the electric car platform with the launch of its i3 in 2013
42. From the competition side, the top electric carmaker is Tesla with strong
product proficiency in electric vehicles. Toyota is the pioneer of hybrid
technology with the introduction of hybrid technology across most of the
segments in its portfolio. The fuel cell vehicle is also pioneered by Toyota.

 

The Battery and
power management technology has to reach a stage of practicality to make the
electric car an ideal option to consume. Tesla Model 3 marks the arrival of a
mass-market electric car at attractive price. The electric vehicles have the
greatest potential for the future of mobility. The ergonomics of the battery
and motor technology fits the needs and purpose of a car. The current battery technology
gives an acceptable range for the car and the challenge is in building the
adequate infrastructure and developing mass production methods to bring down
the cost of manufacturing making affordable electric cars.

 

Automotive parts
supplier Continental predicts that “German manufacturers will cease development
of new internal combustion engine designs as early as 2023”. 43 France followed by Britain
has announced to ban the sales of petrol and diesel engine cars by 2040. Continental have also announced the plans to develop
one more new generation of combustion engine after which further developments
towards new combustion engines will be obsolete as its economically not
feasible and focus of work has to be shifted to towards electro mobility. 43

 

These
developments will not mark the end of production of engines, but rather only
stop the further developments in terms of new designs. The existing technology
is expected to be in production for longer duration catering the needs of other
developing markets. The electric mobility transformation is still far in time
for these markets. Existing engine designs can serve them for years without
major changes.

 

 

From the above
literature we can conclude, the 3 alternate power train option narrows down to
electric option as the ideal way for the direction of the future. To make the
transition into electric cars, there are various number of part changes from
the traditional IC engine cars. We compare the major segments of parts that are
going to change to short list the suppliers impacted.