Bringing a new vehicle to market is hugely expensive; the R&D costs alone run into billions. Different territories have different rules – emissions for example – which makes adherence to safety and environmental standards particularly costly. Where possible, it makes sense for manufacturers to share design and production costs. Keen to take advantage of these efficiencies, an American and a German car manufacturer collaborated on creating an MPV (Multi Purpose Vehicle, or Minivan), working together to build the best car at the lowest price.
All too often internal cross-collaboration teams are derailed by conflicting goals, insufficient support, a silo mentality and inflexibility. Building the MPV had the potential to amplify these inherent challenges further. This was a first-time partnership between two different organisations which required a new manufacturing plant, a new build framework and an entirely new workforce. There was no blueprint to follow because, at the time, no other manufacturers had established a dual-owned production line.
Senior managers from the Netherlands, USA, Germany, France and the UK were seconded from both companies to establish the new facility and eventually recruit Portuguese and Spanish nationals to run it. A culturally diverse group drawn from traditional rivals, the primary and biggest challenge, was to align all parties around a common purpose; eliminating competition over process (our way is better than yours) to create an environment where people embraced best practice for the desired outcome.
OnTrack was able to achieve this by asking managers to step away from the pressures of the project and focus on what the ideal car company would look like. By agreeing this vision up front, effective collaboration could fall into place. Harnessing their combined energies enabled both Manufacturers to troubleshoot, problem solve and make smart decisions jointly, leveraging the value of two great automotive brands.
OnTrack Measured Results
In 2019, the millionth vehicle rolled off the production line in Portugal. Thanks to myriad safety features, clever utilisation of space and the often imitated sliding door, the van has been a huge sales success globally, and continues to be popular with families and long-haul drivers.
Success on this scale wouldn’t have been possible without effective integration of the two project teams. The first, and most successful, example of a dual-owned production line in the automotive industry, it ushered in a new era of strategic alliances between car manufacturers keen to adopt a similar ethos.