Car makers miss high-tech turn

Automotive is often regarded as a forward-thinking sector when it comes to embracing web technologies. However, it is, in fact, riddled with mistrust and over-caution.

A new study has cast doubt on the automotive industry’s e-business credentials.

Automotive is often regarded as one of the most forward-thinking sectors when it comes to embracing web technologies. However, it is in fact riddled with mistrust and over-caution, according to consultant KPMG.

The company surveyed senior executives at multinational car makers and Tier 1 and 2 suppliers in the UK, US, Germany and Japan to produce its study, released at last week’s Detroit Motor Show.

KPMG said a lack of trust between suppliers and manufacturers emerged as a significant barrier to web-based collaboration, with many in the supply chain ‘keeping their cards close to their chest’ rather than sharing information.

Companies are also waiting to see what the competition does before acting themselves, leaving the sector stalled compared with industries such as pharmaceuticals and electronics.

Jeremy Butler, UK manager for KPMG’s Industrial & Automotive Products Practice, claimed industry leaders were playing a dangerous game by holding back until a solution drops into their laps.

‘Business drives technology, it’s not the other way around,’ said Butler.KPMG said chief executives and senior managers need to take more initiative when it comes to creating an e-business vision for their company. A separate study recently found that barely a third of senior automotive executives were actively involved in e-business projects — by far the lowest level of any major industry.The KPMG report suggests the sector is lagging despite the excitement surrounding Covisint, the global automotive online exchange.

In theory, Covisint is set to become one of the most valuable internet trading exchanges, handling billions of dollars worth of procurement for its founders GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler.

Some pilot trading has already taken place, but the venture has yet to find a chief executive or even a headquarters.

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