Electromobility’s impact on supplier networks in the car industry - Assessing suppliers’ awareness and readiness

Examensarbete för masterexamen
Master Thesis
Supply chain management (MPSCM), MSc
Hjalmarsson, Caroline
Nilsson, Malin
The automotive industry is currently facing four main trends described as SpACE; Service providers, Autonomous, Connectivity and Electromobility (Triathlon Group, 2017). The last trend refers to a transportation system based on vehicles driven by electricity. This concept is increasingly seen as favorable since it could avoid problems related to oil and biofuels. During the climate agreements in Paris 2015, Sweden stated it will be one of the first fossil-free developed countries (Smith et. al, 2018). The development and increasing sales of electric cars can be seen as one main goal to reach the agreements by 2030. The development of electromobility and car manufacturers being more involved in sustainability put pressure on the upstream suppliers. Transforming the combustion powertrain, which has been developed in decades, to a fully electric powertrain results in changes of the existing powertrain. However, there is a lack of information on how this change will affect the supply chains within the car industry and what new requirements the suppliers will face. Thus, the purpose of this thesis is to examine how the development of electromobility will impact supply chains within the car industry. The thesis aims to study the main component changes between a combustion and a fully electric powertrain. Thereafter, the goal is to identify which suppliers are affected, explore the suppliers’ preparation and define common key success factors for adapting towards electromobility. The frame of reference consists of literature regarding electromobility, supply networks, sourcing strategies and change management. The drivers behind electromobility can be referred to concerns for energy security, air pollution and climate change legislation (Grauers et al., 2013). Abrahamsen and Håkansson (2012) mean that by combining different businesses within the network, the individual organization may derive greater value than if acting on its own. In addition, sourcing has become a strategic part of many businesses (van Weele, 2014) and Kotter (2011) has presented eight steps in a change model as a tool for successful change implementation. The empirical data supporting the thesis was collected through interviews, where a qualitative strategy was used. This collection was divided into two main phases; the component study and the supplier study. The first phase consisted of interviews held with researchers and experts within automotive industry and electromobility. The second phase included interviews with suppliers currently delivering to car industry or potentially will deliver in the future. Data from the first phase was analyzed, together with online research and frame of reference, twelve components were identified on the powertrain. These components were divided in four different changes; radically, low/no, added or disappear. Out of these changed components, thirteen suppliers were identified and interviewed. These thirteen suppliers were all somehow affected by the development of electromobility. Four different steps of adaptations were defined: affected by the changes, planned some adaptation, started some adaptation and deliver to electric powertrain. Most of the suppliers have already planned some adaptation but not yet started it. Car manufacturers do not demand large volumes for electric powertrains yet, which could be a reason why only 23% of the suppliers are currently delivering to fully electric powertrains. For the suppliers which have come far in the adaptation, three main key success factors could be identified; close relationships with few customers, being able to learn from the early adapters and avoid being replaced, defined as timing, as well as having the right competence.
Transport , Övrig industriell teknik och ekonomi , Transport , Other industrial engineering and economics
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