Cutting costs may be de rigeur, but Rick Snyder, chief executive officer of Ardesta LLC, says, “I view that as a huge problem … Eating your young…emphasizing cost over value.” But automakers are not taking advantage of new technology because they are trying to survive tomorrow, not five years down the road, he says.
Mr. Snyder also believes it’s been far too long since any innovations like the minivan or sport/utility vehicle debuted and revolutionized the auto industry. The industry, he says, is “too introverted” and needs to focus less on analysis and more on people. “It’s time to put the spreadsheets away,” he says.
Mr. Snyder recalls meetings with several automakers and suppliers, many of whom seem very interested at first, but later change their tune, saying their organizational structures prevent them from moving “outside the box.” Mr. Snyder says one automaker states it doesn’t have enough money in its budget for new technology.
The auto industry missed many opportunities for growth, he says, especially with cell phones, an industry that generates nearly as much revenue as the auto industry. It was “out-of-the-box thinking that could happen, but didn’t,” he says. He also asks, “Why isn’t the automotive industry all over MP3?”
Mr. Snyder says Ardesta’s main goal is to supply technology and relationships to the auto industry, but says right now other industries such as biosystems and life sciences are more responsive because they are pushing for new technology, not pulling away from it. If and when the auto industry does take advantage of small technology, he hopes there will “be a ‘blank X’ improvement, not a 25% improvement. This technology would be pervasive inside and out (of an automobile).”