The headline might lead one to believe we are talking about shared mobility, led by firms like Uber, Lyft, etc. However, this kind of shared mobility is a new concept, and catching on fast.
The automotive industry’s history is dotted with a lot of failed partnerships stretching across two centuries. Examples like Daimler-Chrysler, GM-Fiat, and BMW-Rover used to be the reason to firmly believe that tie-ups between major carmakers would not work out.
In recent times, automakers are reversing the trend and entering into successful collaborations leading to exciting new products. In an age of increasingly ACES vehicles, it is prudent to pool resources and work towards developing cohesive products. The situation is made especially urgent due to the present climatic crises across the world pushing for a move to more sustainable forms of mobility.
One of the most prominent instances is the Toyota-BMW partnership, which resulted in the legendary Supra making a comeback. BMW also gave the Z4 a makeover based on the tie-up. While both vehicles share the same jointly developed platform, they are worlds apart in terms of driving feel and role focus.
Toyota proved recently that collaborations between major automakers are not bound to fail. Case in point the brand new 2019 Supra A90.
Joint ventures between leading carmakers mean that two massive powerhouses of technical know-how, resources, and production capabilities are coming together as one to tackle a modern problem. When the final product arrives, we can be sure we are looking at a cutting-edge piece of technology able to face modern mobility challenges.
Volkswagen AG and Ford Motor Company scheduled a press conference in New York last week after months of discussions regarding joining forces to develop self-driving and electric vehicles. The partnership also extends to developing commercial vans and trucks together.
If the world’s numero uno automaker and USA’s No. 2 car firm are joining hands, it has to mean that automotive partnerships would not be the failures of old. After all, to cope with such rapid transition to sustainable mobility, no carmaker is sufficiently prepared or equipped by itself to tackle the challenge. Since 2010, more than $14 billion has been poured in autonomy and mobility technologies, reports BloombergNEF.
“BMW and Daimler are pairing up and matching up on their autonomous-vehicle programme, as are Toyota and Uber, and you’ve seen GM and Honda, and now VW and Ford,” said Mike Ramsey, an automotive consultant at Gartner. “That leaves Hyundai and Kia hunting around desperately for partners. And then the remainder, like FCA and PSA.”
There have been big-ticket partnerships that have commenced in recent times. BMW and Daimler vowed earlier in July to co-developed autonomous highway-cruising cars that will be roadworthy by 2024. While drivers will remain behind the wheel, the alliance said their vehicles will be able to navigate highways and park on their own.
The partnership also agreed to invest more than $1.1 billion into a ride-sharing and hailing business to rival firms like Uber Technologies and Lyft.
Toyota and Mazda have inked a pact to co-develop and manufacture midsize SUVs sitting on a single platform.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which is already an Italian-American alliance, sought a partnership with Renault, though the potential agreement collapsed due to France’s intervention and concern about the implications for Renault’s existing alliance with Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.
About two years before the FCA proposal for Renault, the company had joined hands with a coalition led by BMW, tasked with creating an autonomous vehicle platform due for launch in 2021. Other members of the coalition include heavyweights like Intel, Aptiv, Continental and Magna International.
BMW is not done by a long shot. Jaguar Land Rover made an announcement in June that it will team up with the German carmaker to develop its fifth generation of electric-drive technology, debuting in 2020 under the all-electric X3 crossover.
Failing to achieve traction for the Smart brand, Daimler is now turning its focus eastward, aiming to tunr the brand into an EV maker catering to the Chinese market. Daimler's partner in crime? Its largest stakeholder, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.
Daimler put in motion the transformation plan for Smart, its small-car division into an all-electric brand operating from China. Daimler has enlisted the help of its biggest shareholder, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. The two entities also reached an agreement in October 2018 to attack China’s ride-hailing and ride-sharing business by floating an equal-stakes partnership. The plan is to leverage luxury Mercedes-Benz and Maybach models to compete with the current market leader Didi Chuxing.
Honda, which has been flying solo since its inception, bent to the norm and entered a JV with Toyota and SoftBank Group earlier in 2019. It has also pledged an investment of $2.75 billion in the General Motors Cruise project. Toyota founded an EV-development partnership with Mazda Motor Corp in 2017. Barely months following the announcement, Toyota also joined forces with Suzuki Motor, to develop and market EVs specifically for Chinese and Indian markets.
With so many automakers entering varied forms of partnerships across the globe, the times coming for automotive enthusiasts and general consumers are exciting indeed. Major automakers with massive technical and electronic knowledge pooling resources could only lead to amazing new cars. Of course, the trend has been spreading its wings since the 20th century, but only now is it coming in its own. And we can hardly wait to embrace the slew of new products born of such joint ventures.