For many of the new “internet carmaking” startups that have recently emerged onto the scene and plan to “disrupt” the industry, Geely Holding Group Chairman Li Shufu and bitauto.com and NextEV founder William Li have some words of advice: be patient, be humble and respect the rules of the traditional industry.
“Companies must have tolerance for solitude and withstand temptation,” said Li Shufu at a recent industry event debating the so-called “internet cars.” William Li, on the other hand, said that the auto industry is not a “winner takes all” game, no one is going to replace someone else easily and everyone has a chance. “Anyone that is trying to enter the industry must respect the basic rules of the game such as supply chain, engineering, R&D, quality and safety requirements,” said Li at the same event. He warned that when it’s all said and done, there maybe only two or three of these new players left standing.
Li Shufu went on to say that traditional carmakers and the newly emerged “internet carmakers” such as NextEV that are part of what he calls the “new auto manufacturing movement,” must support and cooperate with each other especially in an era where openness and sharing are encouraged.
It is interesting that the two Lis spoke at the same event. While Geely represents a traditional automaker, it itself was established only less than 20 years ago as a startup facing much uncertainty. NextEV is in a similar position that Geely once was in, except that the younger Li is armed with something that the older Li did not have: knowledge of customer behavior and consumption habits. But even that advantage does not guarantee success. “We have a probability of success of only 5 percent, but I’m willing to take one step at a time to increase that success rate,” said William Li.
The perspectives from the two Lis also resonated at several other recent events.
At GM’s press conference on March 21 in Beijing announcing its strategy for China over the next 5 years, GM President Dan Ammann said that he does not see any one company that has all the pieces to be successful when it comes to the future of shared mobility and autonomous driving, while GM China President Matt Tsien said that the company will leverage both internal resources and partnerships with others if they have value to offer.
At CBU/CAR’s Monthly Automotive Salon (MAS) held on March 22 in Shanghai, both Andorfer Andreas, president of Bosch Automotive Aftermarket Greater China, and Chen Min, founder and CEO of Tuhu.cn, believe that many business models will coexist in China’s automotive aftermarket, and new players such as Tuhu.cn will depend on traditional players like Bosch just as much as the other way around.
Indeed, it’s not a “winner takes all” game and one company disrupting another, but rather one disrupting oneself.