Many automotive companies claim to be global, but most of them are really local companies with global operations: without wishing to highlight any one company, many have had very strong presence in a defined geographical location, with large numbers of people in that location thinking like the locals, trying to build products for colleagues in overseas locations. This has led to some strange anomalies in a global industry: an OEM with a dominant market share in one country barely exists in another; processes and systems that work well in one country do not even get deployed in another; and consumers will pay a premium in one country whilst expect a heavy discount in another. But in recent times, the automotive industry has realised it needs to really embrace global – and it need to do this at speed. Growth in emerging markets and problems in home markets have led all the western OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers to rethink how “global” they really are. We can no longer have projects which spend years in design and development, and then never get beyond plant #10 in the deployment cycle. Or engineering centres which cannot collaborate on design to build global core products with local modifications.
The secret will be to design quickly, and deploy rapidly using a “hub and spoke” deployment methodology – and as always, the devil will be in the detail!