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Management consulting firm Zinnov released its latest study conducted on the Automotive R&D Globalization Landscape, presenting a global engineering R&D analysis on the top 60 automotive companies and how are they leveraging the global R&D ecosystems to improve engineering output and efficiency.

The report, which analyzed more than 60 automotive companies—30 OEMs and 30 Tier 1s, draws attention to the disruption being caused by dynamic factors including newer technologies, business models, consumption patterns and changes in the global market. The pace of these disruptions are pushing the need for companies to access diverse talent pool, collaborate with technology leaders from the ecosystem and realign their global R&D structure.

The automotive industry is witness to the highest disruption among all industries. New technologies such as Autonomous, AI, Electric have reached application maturity. New OEMs such as Tesla, Next EV have changed the way cars are conceived, built and sold. Tech Mafia—Google, Apple have invested billions of dollars in user experience. Start-ups across driver assistance, autonomous, sharing have received over $14 billion in funding. The existing OEMs and Tier 1s are fighting back with their own massive investment— in house R&D + start-up collaboration / acquisitions. Of all locations, the Bay Area Silicon Valley is at pole position with 27 new R&D centers of auto companies and more than 50% of all auto start-up investments.

—Sidhant Rastogi, Partner, Zinnov

The report highlights the shift in the product strategy of the automotive companies from building discrete products to cognitive AI Systems. It stated that the traditional core areas such as car body design, fuel economy etc., are now moving to context and areas of consumer experience with features like IoT and connectivity technologies are becoming the new core.

Zinnov’s analysis shows that automotive companies are now leveraging different locations, such as Bay Area (20 new R&D centers), Los Angeles (8 new R&D centers), Shanghai (36 new R&D centers), Bangalore (9 new R&D centers), Romania (14 new R&D centers) and Vietnam (5 new R&D centers) that have seen increased R&D investments and center setups over the last decade.

Additionally, the report also discusses the massive changes in the traditional siloed innovation structures with its clear demarcations for internal and external collaborations. This has given way to the new age paradigm of innovation fabric, with global companies now leveraging the larger ecosystem of start-ups, universities, technology leaders from other verticals and engineering service providers.

With ~$6 billion invested in automotive start-ups in FY 2015, new companies are booming. The global automotive companies require tapping into these new age innovative companies. Nine out of the top 12 automotive companies have venture arms present in Bay Area to tap into its mature start-up ecosystem.

Global automotive organizations are also adopting a globally distributed approach and have set-up 70+ start-up accelerator platforms across the globe, with Bay Area again being at the core of strategic focus with over 14 accelerator platforms in the location. There is also the Open Innovation Labs, encouraged by players like Honda which has set up an open innovation lab for R&D in connected vehicles, the Volkswagen’s Electronics Research Lab and GM’S advanced technology lab in the Silicon Valley.

Furthermore, leading automotive companies such as Toyota, Ford, Honda, BMW etc., are also fostering academic partnerships with top universities across the globe, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Texas A&M University, Imperial College London and many more, that have a clear focus on research in emerging technology areas and will help drive next generation innovation.

The report also emphasizes the highly mature automotive engineering services outsourcing landscape. With engineering service providers addressing over $9.2 billion of the R&D spend by automotive companies, it ascertains the need for automotive leaders to leverage the leading engineering service providers across different sub-segments to optimize engineering efficiency.


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