Monday, July 13, 2015

Automotive Manufactures Use Old Technologies to Adapt to New Global Marketplace

As is evident in the article “When it comes to cars, old technologies are new again” automobile manufacturers are taking heed of McKinsey’s article, “What happens next?” and applying lessons from the five crucibles of innovation, particularly the ‘Productivity Imperative’ and the ‘Pricing the Planet’ crucible.

As described in the NBC News article, automobile manufacturers are drawing upon previously developed technologies to revolutionize their vehicle portfolio. Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota are introducing hydrogen fuel cell cars into the mass market. While the technology was seriously developed as part of the Apollo space missions, it now has the potential to be a clean energy of the future as these companies understand the need to adapt as traditional fossil fuel vehicles are viewed as unsustainable and risky in today’s global oil marketplace. These global companies are taking advantage of their current position to prepare for a future where clean energy is increasingly in demand and where oil supply may deplete, or is subject to volatile pricing due to political issues in oil-rich countries.

Not only have these companies addressed natural resource considerations by utilizing previously developed fuel-cell technology, but automobile companies across the board have increased productivity by tapping into advancements in technologies such as satellites and microprocessors to create viability in innovations that did not have the infrastructure built to be marketable when they were first introduced. The ‘Displacement on Demand’ technology which shuts down cylindars when not in use to reduce fuel consumption and the ‘Magic Body Control’ system which uses cameras mounted around the vehicle to scan the road ahead were both systems originally developed decades prior. These are technologies that when originally introduced and developed, could not be widely implemented due to constraints in other technologies. With advances in microprocesser size and speed which effect the ability to efficiently program electronic controls, many of these products that have been sitting on the shelf are now able to be put to market.

The fact that these companies are reviewing technologies that have been sitting on the bench shows how they are willing to adapt the new global economy. Rather than reinventing the wheel and investing millions in Research and Development of new systems and technologies, these companies are refining existing processes to make them viable in our changing world. This is increasing productivity and exhibiting a willingness to address environmental issues that affect all of us. These technologies have the potential for even further advancements from the information that they gather. As cars are increasingly coming online in “The Internet of Things” the data collected from these technologies and vehicles has the potential to further enhance vehicle development and inform manufacturers where they should be investing their R&D dollars going forward. All of these advances will create competitive advantages for companies willing to implement them. 

EISENSTEIN, P. A. (2015, July 10). When It Comes to Cars, Old Technologies Are New Again. Retrieved from NBC News:

McKinsey & Company. (2010). What happens next? McKinsey & Company.

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