Automotive > Powertrain, Body, Chassis & Safety Blog

Tavares Converts Collaboration into Leadership

by Roger Lanctot | 1月 25, 2022

Stellantis stole the show at CES 2022.

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares had a breakthrough at CES 2022 introducing his one-year-old company to the world and setting the stage to transform the business of connecting cars. At the same time, he set a new standard for industry collaboration – indeed establishing cooperation as a strategic advantage.

Tavares has introduced Stellantis – already the fourth largest auto maker in the world – via a series of events (Stellantis Battery Day, Stellantis Software Day) intended to reveal and explain its strategy. This introduction of Stellantis to the world culminated at CES 2022 with multiple presentations including the re-introduction of the Airflow EV crossover (to arrive in MY25).

The challenge of managing 14 iconic brands is great for Tavares and Stellantis. The company formerly known as the PSA Group, swooped in to acquire General Motors’ European brands and assets (i.e. Opel and Vauxhall) in 2017 and subsequently merged with FCA.

These bold moves contrasted starkly with GM’s global pullback led by its CEO, Mary Barra.  The onset of the COVID pandemic provided something of an acid test of these conflicting strategies – and the stock market has smiled on both companies while the sales results have handsomely rewarded Stellantis.

The contrasts between Stellantis and GM don’t end there, however, as the two companies have diverged in their approaches to automation and electrification – the twin development challenges bedeviling automotive engineers. Where GM has opted to vertically integrate (Cruise, Ultium), Stellantis has chosen to collaborate.

Both companies have received plaudits from analysts. The strength of the portfolio of Stellantis gambits, though, is only just beginning to be understood.

Tavares has touted multiple alliances including:

 

  • Foxconn – for the development of several families of semiconductors and to ensure a reliable semiconductor supply line
  • BMW – for the development of so-called (SAE) Level 3+ semi-autonomous driving functions known collectively as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)
  • Waymo – for development of full self-driving technology (SAE Level 4/4+)
  • Daimler – for battery development in cooperation with TotalEnergies Automotive Cells Company
  • Factorial Energy – for solid state battery development

 

These alliances reflect an underlying culture and strategy of collaboration. Wikipedia notes: “In 2021, CEO Carlos Tavares issued a challenge for the group's brands to prove themselves within a 10-year window, in exchange for much-needed investment in new models and technology.”

Any other car company with a 14-brand line up might have immediately initiated a triage strategy – but Tavares announced his intention to support that offering. In a manner of doubling down he not only struck deals with competing auto makers, he brought in senior executives to help define a platform strategy for connected, electrified cars.

This is where the collaboration with Amazon came in. Tavares announced at CES that Amazon is at the core of Stellantis’s plan to;

 

  • Deliver software solutions for Stellantis’ new digital cabin platform, STLA SmartCockpit, starting in 2024
  • Adopt Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its preferred cloud provider for vehicle platforms to deliver on its long-term, software-focused vision
  • Launch collaborative engineering and innovation initiatives and tools to accelerate time to market for new digital products and to upskill Stellantis’ global workforce

 

Additionally, Stellantis says Amazon will be the first commercial customer for the new Ram ProMaster battery-electric vehicle (BEV) in 2023..

Throughout its press announcements and events, Stellantis has made much of its existing and soon to be expanded connected vehicle fleet. The company’s goal is to “monetize” that fleet by tapping the value propositions enabled by subscription services and vehicle data aggregation.

Here, as elsewhere, Stellantis’ strategy diverges from GM. Where companies such as GM and Volkswagen have sold their vehicle data to external third party data brokers such as Wejo and Otonomo, Stellantis intends to leverage the AWS cloud to build value for its customers and the organization internally.

Stellantis has made ambitions claims in this regard:

 

  • Targeting approximately €4B in annual revenues by 2026 and €20B by 2030, generated by software-enabled product offerings and subscriptions
  • Expecting to have 34M “monetizable” connected cars by 2030, with a majority of all new vehicles to be fully over-the-air updatable by 2024
  • Planning three all-new AI-powered technology platforms to be deployed at scale starting in 2024: STLA Brain, STLA SmartCockpit, and STLA AutoDrive

 

The key here, though, is that this is no one-man show. Tavares may be at the center of this whirl of activity but the events that Stellantis has put on have featured multiple engineers and leaders from throughout the organization. At least one of these executives stands out – Ned Curic – current Stellantis chief technology officer and former Amazon vice president and Toyota CTO and board member.

In a post-COVID world, the relevance of subscription services has assumed existential importance. Cocooned in our homes with our Internet connections and remote controls, human beings have become tethered to subscription-based streaming and gaming services.

The automotive industry is on the cusp of the widespread adoption of 5G technology just as new cars across the developed world – including China – have come to terms with universal connectivity. It is nearly impossible to buy a car without a built-in wireless connection, yet consumers remain ambivalent towards connectivity.

With 150M Amazon Prime subscribers, Amazon may well be the ideal strategic partner to help Stellantis close the enthusiasm gap in vehicle subscription payments. Tesla, as ever, is the paragon in this regard with nearly all of its owners paying $10/month for connectivity. 

Might Stellantis become the first car company to sell cars with a built-in Amazon Prime subscription with its access to streaming audio and audiobooks via Audible? Stellantis has already announced its intention to leverage Amazon’s Your Garage-style logistics for aftermarket parts and service.

Of all the collaborations in the Stellantis portfolio, the Amazon tie up may well point the way forward for the automotive industry. Of course, it also sets up a clash between two cloud titans: Google and Amazon. This was the biggest news out of CES 2022 for the automotive industry.  This marks the arrival of Carlos Tavares as the latest auto CEO star.

(It is worth noting that Stellantis made the bold decision to attend the CES show - while Amazon withdrew. Hopefully this is not a harbinger of future Amazon unreliability and resilience.)

Stellantis EV Day 2021: https://www.stellantis.com/en/investors/events/ev-day-2021

Stellantics Software Day 2021: https://www.stellantis.com/en/investors/events/sw-day-2021

Stellantis CES 2022 Presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ku23CkmtTY

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