Auto Industry Suffers From "Innovation Gap." Allegedly.
Innovation is the buzzword de jour for industries undergoing major upheaval. But a study by the annoyingly-named German consulting firm Invensity GMBH, shows that automakers face unique barriers to innovation despite major industry-wide challenges. EE Times Europe details a study of 100 German development team leaders, R&D managers and design engineers from automotive OEMs. The report claims that cost pressure and reliability requirements are the greatest barriers to innovation. Some 46 percent of respondents said automotive industry, innovations are more difficult to implement than in other industries. Only 26 percent believe that the automotive industry is more innovation-friendly than other industries. Yes, well, cost and reliability pressures can actually spur innovation. So, as one of the world's most competitive industries, do automakers really have anything to complain about? Nope. It's the companies who've ignored competition to squeeze short-term profits out of antiquated technology that really need to be worried. And, now, are.
There certainly is very little long term vision - most R&D seems to be spent chasing the latest automotive fad and avoiding risk. Occasionally someone gets it right - like Toyota did with the hybrid system. They made significant losses on the first gen cars during the early years but next year they will launch their third generation synergy drive in the middle of a gas crunch and make most other manufacturers look out of touch (Then again, they also built the Tundra). Sure any grand vision involves a considerable amounts of risk, but then again no real progress is ever made without taking a little risk.
It sucks to be so capital-intensive.