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The commercial vehicle ecosystem – who will do what?

26 Dec 2022

In a collaborative future for commercial vehicles, it will be important to allocate responsibilities wisely.

An increasingly complex world

The relationship between commercial vehicle (CV) OEMs and their customers used to be a relatively simple one. Broadly speaking, OEMs built, sold, and maintained trucks, and transporters focused on optimizing routes and managing drivers. The only real connection between OEMs and customers was the trucks.

However, in the new world of increasingly connected and electrified transportation, things will be a lot more complex. Many activities within the commercial vehicle ecosystem will depend on collaboration between multiple players.

1. Collaboration with customers

The higher initial costs of new technology will mean that the truck is probably no longer sold but rather provided on an as-a-service or pay-per-use basis, or through leasing or financing models. And, after the transportation company has taken delivery of the vehicle, there will be ongoing communication – and collaboration – between OEM and customer, with the OEM offering a wide range of additional services.

2. Collaboration with IT companies

While OEMs will still build trucks, the software-driven nature of the “connected trucks” of the future means that the OEMs will need to IT experts to help build them. And because those experts are rare, IT companies will be involved.

3. Collaboration with service providers

As mentioned above, OEMs will want to offer customers an ever-increasing range of services. But they themselves won’t necessarily originate the services. A major question to address here is which of the services will be provided by the OEM and which by others in the commercial vehicle ecosystem players.

Negotiating service provision

A wide range of services will be required, including the provision of 5G and of communication hubs along the highway to support point-to-point communication. Then there will be charging solutions for electric trucks, including provisioning of the grid. Also required will be hubs integrating long-haul and short-haul/last-mile transportation. All sorts of players, from energy companies to telcos to industry consortia, could get involved in providing these services.

In terms of connected services, an IDC study recently commissioned by Capgemini revealed a long list of services that customers expect to get from OEMs, with fuel expense management, routing and dispatch optimization, and driver behavior/performance scorecards topping the list (see IDC InfoBrief, p8). But of course, the OEMs could well outsource the development and/or operation of these services to third parties.

OEMs should already be working to identify partners who are willing to take an active risk- and reward-sharing approach to product development. These partners are likely to include technology suppliers in areas including 5G, AI, ADAS, routing, dispatching and other location-based services, batteries, and powertrains.

Governments and regulators, too, will need to take the right steps to make these services possible. In contrast with the classic innovation process of the past, where you could (say) invent a more efficient drivetrain and simply build it into your trucks, it’s now necessary to get regulations changed before you can bring an innovation to market. OEMs are already engaging with regulators to put the right regulatory changes in place.

Ensuring successful transformation

To sum up, a collaboration between a wide variety of ecosystem players is necessary for tackling the complex requirements of future transportation. And that collaboration is itself a source of complexity as we work out who needs to do what and how they will collaborate with OEMs, transporters, and the rest.

Virtually every industry player would like to see zero-emission transportation, enabled by autonomous electric trucks. But to achieve this objective, we need to ensure the alignment of multiple factors, including the power grid, charging points, mobile networks, logistics, vehicles, and legal and regulatory enablers. Joint ventures and working groups are already striving to bring the right factors together. The Catena-X open data ecosystem is a good example.

The Capgemini Commercial Vehicles Acceleration Hub (CVAH) was created to bring together ideas from across our company to tackle exactly these issues. In future articles, we’ll draw on that study, and our own extensive CV experience, to see how the factors described above can come together for a successful transformation.

About Author

Markus Scherbaum - Expert

Markus Scherbaum

Program Director, Head of the Commercial Vehicles Acceleration Hub
Markus Scherbaum is a Global Program Director at Capgemini and a member of the global automotive sector. He leads the company’s strategic initiative with SAP for the automotive industry and the GTM for Trucks. Markus has a track record of more than 20 years in automotive. His passion is to drive transformation and innovation for the industry.

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