Wednesday 17 July 2019

How giants of auto industry are getting bigger all the time

Car giants are getting bigger
Car giants are getting bigger
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

Your car may look and drive different than anything else, cost more or less than so-called rivals but the chances are it shares some, or most, components with a different brand altogether.

Welcome to the shrinking world of car ownership, where the giants are getting bigger and the minnows are being absorbed.

Looking at the graphic, generously sent to us by Rybrook Driver's Life, on who owns what might prompt some to decry the loss of individual traits and technologies.

But the truth is there is safety and survival, in numbers. The recent acquisition of Opel/Vauxhall by the PSA group (Peugeot/Citroen) is a good example of the trend. Opel and PSA will contribute to, and derive from, their respective strengths.

It is the latest but, industry sources predict, not the last such development. The reality is that the pace of technological development - on everything from connectivity to autonomous driving - is so fast that no single company can really afford, or justify it, for itself.

Platforms are now made to accommodate widely varying spreads of different car types and sizes as technology is shared across several marques. One of the best-known examples of that would be the way Volkswagen has core platforms for its own-name cars, Seat and Skoda etc.

The Renault-Nissan alliance is another instance of companies sharing lots of structures and technologies. As the graphic shows, some big names now shelter under large umbrellas.

Yet in a way that is the easy part: engines can be shared and tweaked, suspensions adapted etc.

The hard part - and the challenge for car makers - is to maintain each brand's distinctive attributes. That is key to you continuing to buy your current brand. Here's a quick list in case you don't recognise some of the graphic's symbols:

Volkswagen: Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat, Skoda, VW.

Toyota: Daihatsu, Lexus.

General Motors Buick: Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Holden.

Ford: Lincoln, Troller, Ford.

Renault/Nissan: Renault, Nissan, Infiniti, Dacia, Datsun, Renault Samsung, Lada.

Hyundai Motor Group: Hyundai, Kia.

Daimler: Mercedes-Benz, AMG, Smart.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles: Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, Ram Trucks.

Honda: Acura, Honda.

BMW: MINI, Rolls-Royce.

Suzuki: Maruti, Suzuki.

PSA (Peugeot Citroen): Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Opel, Vauxhall.

Tata Motors: Tata, Jaguar/Land Rover.

Geely: Volvo, Geely.

Independent carmakers: Aston Martin, Mazda, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Tesla, McLaren, Ferrari.

(Note: Mitsubishi remains an independent car maker. Lotus not featured because its owner Proton is looking for an international partner, meaning the car industry should witness another shift soon).

* Courtesy: Rybrook Driver's Life

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