Better late than never
The eponymous pandemic has given automakers a serious wake-up call on the necessities of controlling all of the production chain.
They're reacting for their own survival.
Chip makers like Nvidia and Intel see semiconductor content rising in the years ahead, which means a bigger business opportunity. What they may not be expecting is car makers becoming major chip contractors themselves. Ford announced it collaboration to GlobalFoundries to design and manufacture semiconductors to secure its …
I think it goes far beyond the auto makers, but you're exactly right. The principle of the Method of Constraints (usually refered to as Just in Time) is that, to avoid carrying a lot of work-in-progress, you have components and sub-assemblies become ready just at the point where they will be used.
Decades of "value engineering" where bean counters have:
- minimised buffer stocks
- screwed down suppliers on price
- assumed that supplies can be assured by having a contract in place
have got us to where we are now. When you outsource and de-skill, that skill is effectively gone forever. And where you choose to be dependant on a supplier, your interest has to go beyond the contract you have with them.
When I worked for the MOD, the bean-counters forced JIT upon us. Up until this point we had a Main Store on our site that serviced local specialised storerooms stocking parts that section was likely to need on very short notice. It was inefficient, but it worked.
The always-beloved bean-counters had 'negotiated' that companies such as RS Components, Farnell, Plessey, etc., (even Maplin), could supply urgently-needed components the same day if needed.
In research, some time you want to try a QAD (Quick And Dirty) fix to some problem. Local stores helped immensely. No delays.
These on-site stores carried everything from wire nails to Swarfega to carefully-selected 'universal' electronic components to metal stock, and so much more.
'The Falklands' happened. Everything went into overdrive. Including the 'car pool.' We spent more time driving to suppliers than doing the bloody work! What could have been done in hours, now took days.
Lives were at stake. Literally.
When JIT works, it's good. When one thing upsets it and the supply chain is interrupted, the whole thing collapses.
"that back a software-defined car-as-a-service model"
I read that as, "we'll brick, or make your 10 year old car so dysfunctional that you have to buy a new one.". Or, "pay us £100 per month if you want a working radio, heating, air con and interior lights"
We really are happily waltzing into a frightening world......
"We really are happily waltzing into a frightening world......"
Yes, it's quite terrifying that we at least a generation who have grown up now, owning nothing and renting everything. Back when I was kid, 50 years ago, renting was seen as wasted money. Do without if necessary until you can save up and buy outright. Even HP was frowned on except for really expensive items. For many, the only acceptable debt was a mortgage.
People did rent for housing of course, but it was still looked on as a second choice to buying if buying wasn't an option.
"a software-defined car-as-a-service model"
I imagine this means features* could be licensed rather than sold as an integral part of the vehicle. Actually, this might not be so different from GM OnStar or satellite radio: they affect resale value, but don't make the vehicle unable or unsafe to drive.
*I doubt they could touch anything that's regulated like exterior lights, emissions, reversing camera, ABS. I also think that liability means they'll avoid anything related to safety, or that is under warranty like power train. That leaves quality-of-life things like entertainment, remote starting, and butt-warmers.