New product architectures: electrification, digitalisation and the impact of Covid-19

Theme N°: 

As far as product architectures are concerned, the dominant design based on global modular platforms controlled by OEMs did not seem to have been challenged by the digitalization of R&D and products. Indeed, the combination of electric drivetrains, shared mobility, and digital manufacturing seemed to open up the possibility of open-modular network-based product architectures. However, this scenario now appears to be questioned by China, through its national industrial plan Made in China 2025, and by the United States, where the entry of the Californian digital giants into the automobile sector constitutes a concrete threat to the hegemony of the manufacturers. To the challenges posed to manufacturers by these transformations, we must also add the impact of the global pandemic on their business model.
Some of the fundamental questions thus become: how do the industrial strategies pursued by giants like China and the US question the global product architecture? To what extent have business models that were being shaped around such architectures recently been affected by the COVID-19 crisis? What are the crisis implications for existing productive models? Do we see new business models emerging, aimed at exploring new sources of profits and altering the established provision of mobility, data management and energy consumption? How have activities been organized to cope with these challenges at the research, development and industrialization phases? Will we see new product architectures emerging through these processes? Are there particular types of vehicles (mini-cars, low-speed vehicles, ultra low cost cars) where the dominant design has already been challenged? What are the implications of these changes for the evolution and/or transformation of value chains and ecosystem architectures?
 We welcome papers that theoretically and empirically explore these avenues, as well as contributions that illustrate how OEMs’ product designs and global platforms are adapting to these potential radical changes.

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