I) Automobile

Model T Ford (1908)

The Model T was the first mass-produced car that was priced so that most Americans could afford it. Every single part was made in one factory.

GM's motto: "car for every purse and purpose" (1924)

General Motors reinvented the car by injecting price differentiation, fun and fashion into the car industry

VW Beetle (1950's)

Introduction of the small, second family car as a 'shopping basket'

Toyota Land Cruiser (late1960s)

Introduction of "up-market" 4WD resulted in the increasing popularity of 4WDs for non-primary industry usage, ie leisure travel, urban "run-about", etc

Japanese fuel-efficient cars (mid-1970s)

The Japanese carmakers focused on small and reliable models in response to a global fuel crisis. Car parts made by many different firms forming an intricate relationship with suppliers

Chrysler minivan (1984)

With its minivan, Chrysler created a new class of vehicles that are easy to use as a car but have the space of a van

Environmental-friendly cars (2000)

The introduction of the hybrid motor vehicles

Driveless cars/robotics

As 90% of traffic accidents in America are due to human error (Steve Johnson, 2014), the driverless car is seen as a way to reduce these accidents. Remember: an automakers typically spend 5 to 7 years developing an automobile. An example of driveless vehicles is Rio Tinto (global miner) operatings 50+ autonomous trucks at Australian mining sites
Software makers like Google, Apple, etc are linking with automobile industry global suppliers like Bosch, Continental, Denso, Magna Steyr & Delphi; not with automobile manufacturers like Ford, Toyota, General Motors, Fiat, Chrysler, etc. These suppliers are very strong in technology that guides and controls cars; they have invested heavily in research and development on electronics and automation. For example, Google is testing a self-driving car that uses Bosch sensors (Bosch employees 34,000 engineers of which about 1/3 work in software)
Software, electronics, automation and communications are an integral part of the new generation of vehicles, ie
"...as with computers and mobile phones, they can own technology and license software, rather than shaping metal..."
John Gapper, 2015

As automobiles turn electronic, the suppliers are building a bigger proportion of each one; the cost of electronic parts in the average vehicle will rise from 20% in 2004 to 40% in 2015; a premier class car contains 100 microprocessors and runs on 100 million lines of software code (John Gapper, 2015). To a software engineer, a car looks like a computer, ie

"...a networked device founded on software and applications that can be designed in California, built from modules made by suppliers, and put together in contract factories..."

John Gapper, 2015

NB After dominating the world car market for around 70 years, GM has losing its no. 1 spot to Toyota. Furthermore, with the economic downturn starting in late 2008 and the resultant financial difficulties of the major car producers, such as GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, etc, does indicate that their business model is under significant threat, eg GM went into volunteer bankruptcy in 2009

Also, with the advent of ride sharing technology (Uber - $US 40 b., Lyft - $US 1.2 b., etc) and driverless/electronic cars (Telsa - $US 25 b.), traditional car companies like Ford, Nissan, etc are working with tech companies to connect cars to the Internet; these companies are now seeing themselves as software and technology companies. Automakers spent $US 100+ b. on R & D (2014), making them the third biggest spender behind health care and technology hardware (The Lex Column, 2015b)

 

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