to be or not to be…

As you know from my recent posts, I am having my eyes constantly on the developments globally in transforming industries such as #energy, #transportation and #automotive.

OEMs are struggling versus the competition of new entrants in #EV domain. BMW, Ford Motors and Daimler are among those struggling with EBIT margins around 7-8% in recent years (except covid period). They are currently investing billions of dollars to achieve their transformation and investors are looking at the progress very carefully.

No post on autos could do without some auto visuals 🙂 I ended up choosing Daimler EQXX…

I expect the following changes in automotive value chain in next couple of years:

  • Dramatic overhaul of go-to-market: Starting from Europe, the dealerships will be transformed. It is not acceptable for dealers to earn 300-700 bps while OEMs are making c. 7-9% margin. Order-to-delivery cycle will probably be run by OEMs. Kind of agency models shall be developed and prices and commissions of agent shall possibly be fixed for each country. OEMs shall run flagship “technology stores” in the centers of cities and you will “experience” the models in these stores. This is already in progress in China. Newcomers such as #Apple and #Xiaomi shall also use this model. In the US market where dealers have greater power compared to other markets, the diffusion of agency model shall probably take a decade or longer however it is clear to me that franchise model shall even end in the US. Tesla’s distribution costs are hard-to-beat now however this is “to be or not to be” issue to handle for OEMs.
  • Players will have to reduce #complexity in their #organizations and #products. Not only EVs shall need fewer number of components but also EV players would need much leaner organizations. This shall result in loss of certain know-how through downsizing their organizations but possibly enhance their decision-making speed. Reducing the complexity in their products would ease supply chain and lower their huge working capital need.
  • They need to improve quality of products dramatically. Warranty costs are significant part of total operating costs and needs to be put down. Only way to achieve this is to manage substantial increase in quality of products. This shall be a critical step which could call the winners and the losers.
  • OEMs use lots of working capital. Partial release of these is inevitable to reach higher FCFs. Production needs to be modified into a “build-to-order” system to achieve this. What a challenge!
  • Advertising costs are huge burden in the P&Ls. The industry has to get rid of majority of these to achieve the margin its investors are asking. Having a customer loyalty like Apple’s is the only way out to achieve this! Once achieved, that could bring dramatic reduction in marketing costs. I deliberately used Apple example because an electric vehicle is a software-driven tool. #Software, in my view shall be the new determinant where the competition will be. (touched upon that before in my review of the application of AI in #EV)
  • Safeguarding raw materials to avoid any shortage in supply. Average EV battery would probably (acc. to battery technology) need 50kg. of nickel along with lots of lithium. If you look at the nickel and lithium market nowadays (under heavy impact from Ukraine war), the concept becomes seld-explanatory…

There are more dimensions of this transformation journey, that is sure thing. But as I am trying to adopt 5min. rule for each blog post, better to stop here. Planning to elaborate on software and raw materials in a separate discussion.

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