It’s not that autonomous driving is cold, it’s that car companies are preparing for winter

This winter is colder than expected, which has become the consensus of the industry.

Text丨Intelligent Driving Network Huang Huadan

As the two major shareholders of the star self-driving company Argo AI, the withdrawal of Ford and Volkswagen sentenced Argo to death; coupled with the bankruptcy of the old lidar company Ibeo, the self-driving industry can be described as cold.

In the Chinese market, in the past year, there have been many start-ups that have shrunk the front line and transformed from L4-level autonomous driving operators to L2-level autonomous driving suppliers. At the same time, they have been deeply tied to car companies.

But now it is the car companies that also have a deep sense of crisis.

Recently, Weimar was exposed to pay cuts and layoffs. Senior management took the initiative to cut salaries by 50%, and grassroots employees paid 70% of their salaries.

In contrast, it is the active self-rescue of many car companies.

In the past two months, Geely, Xiaopeng and Great Wall have all revealed that they have adjusted their organizational structure. Although each company has different expressions, the overall idea is to improve the synergy between its brands (business units) and improve efficiency. .

The major functions such as brand strategy, product planning, technology, and supply chain are unified at the level of the entire group or company, and each subordinate brand or model is operated in a smaller organization in the form of similar business units or separate subsidiaries. On the one hand, it can unify resources and save costs, on the other hand, it can ensure the flexibility of subordinate brands or business units, facilitate communication and improve efficiency.

Geely summed it up as the principle of “separating the front desk and integrating the back office” , which actually applies to the adjustment plans of the other two companies.

Different companies have their own reasons for needing reform, but in general, the competitive pressure from the market and the uncertainty of the internal and external environment make reform an urgent need for car companies at the moment.


The organizational structure adjustment logic is similar

Below, let’s take a detailed look at the organizational structure adjustment of the three auto companies.

According to media reports, Geely’s adjustment direction is to focus on the main automobile business and strengthen strategic coordination . That is to say, on the basis of the original multi-brand strategy, Geely will make some choices in the future.

In terms of organizational structure, Geely Holding Group will set up a reform and innovation committee, a product technology collaboration committee, a supply chain collaboration committee, and a brand building committee.

Xpeng Motors has established five committees, three product matrices, and five systems.

Great Wall described its organizational structure adjustment as “strong backstage, large and middle stage, small front stage”, and “one car, one brand, one company”.

We compiled the organizational structures disclosed by the three companies and the corresponding persons in charge into a table for comparison.

The five committees of Xiaopeng Motors are strategy, production regulations, technical planning, production and sales balance and OTA committees.

The Strategy Committee is responsible for formulating the company’s long-term development strategy, the Production Planning Committee is responsible for the formulation of product strategies and plans, the Technical Planning Committee is responsible for the formulation of technical strategies and plans, the Production and Sales Balance Committee is responsible for the formulation of plans related to production and sales balance, and the OTA Committee is responsible for major OTA business issues. Goal setting and management decisions.

The five systems refer to the establishment of five systems of “strategy, research and development, supply and production, marketing services, and functional support” in daily operations to promote consistent goals and efficient collaboration across business chains.

The platform product matrix refers to the coordination of various functions around a car from marketing, customer service, communication, sales, training, sales management, etc. The goal is to ensure that the customer and market orientation are the main focus, and to establish an end-to-end closed-loop responsible for the entire business of the product. For example, the Xiaopeng P7 product matrix is ​​to promote the various roles included in the sales of P7.

This is similar to Great Wall’s “one vehicle, one brand, one company” strategy.

Great Wall adopts a model to make a brand and set up a company. For example, a pickup truck is a separate branch, and an SUV is a separate company. What needs to be complained here is that Great Wall’s SUV is more than a brand and a company. Wey, Tank, and Haval are all sub-markets of SUVs.

For Great Wall Motors, a model can be made into a brand, while Xiaopeng currently has fewer products, which can be understood as a matrix of one car and one product in the literal sense.

When Wei Jianjun explained his “strong back-office, large and middle-office, and small front-office”, he said that strong back-office refers to the reserve of more cutting-edge technologies, middle-office refers to support departments such as product research and development, network marketing, etc., and small front-office refers to the aforementioned offices. The companies mentioned above are separately established by each brand. Wei Jianjun said that the organization should be small.

In addition, each brand has also set up a brand general manager, which conducts a straight-line summary operation according to the different car series on the product. Such as Haval’s H series, F series and so on. The same is true for the platform product matrix of Xiaopeng Motors.

The position setting of several CXOs clearly defines their functional division, which is similar to the committee functions of Xiaopeng and Geely.

Previously, each of Geely’s brands had independent procurement, R&D and marketing departments. Although they could ensure the independence of each brand, they were overstaffed and prone to waste of resources. The establishment of the committee is to integrate such functions of each subordinate brand into the group level and manage them in a unified manner.

That is to say, “the front office is separated and the back office is integrated”, which is also the thinking of the other two.


Focus and streamlining are necessary

The direction of Geely’s adjustment this time is to focus on the main automobile business and strengthen strategic synergy. According to Yang Xueliang, senior vice president of Geely Holding Group, the focus strategy is not to abandon the multi-brand strategy, but to choose a layout in the future.

Geely Holding Group’s subsidiaries include passenger car business and commercial vehicle business, and are also involved in technology, travel, finance, education and other fields. And its passenger car business also includes multiple brands, including Geely, Lynk & Co, Geometry, Volvo, Polestar, Extreme Krypton, Radar, Lotus and other brands. A few days ago, Geely bought a stake in Aston Martin for 200 million pounds.

It can be said that Geely is one of the most abundant multi-brand routes among domestic private car companies. It is precisely because there are many subordinate brands that to a certain extent, it will actually cause the situation of mutual blogging between left and right hands. For example, the just-released Rotes Eletre and Polestar 3 are considered twin brothers (see

what happened? Lotus ELETRE and Polestar 3 become twin brothers


Proposing a focus strategy will be more conducive to Geely’s ability to concentrate limited resources in necessary places against the backdrop of the overall economic downturn.

The same problem also appeared in the product planning of Great Wall Motors.


From the naming to the design of the various models under the Haval and WEY brands, it is really difficult for consumers to distinguish the difference between the brands.

For Xiaopeng Motors, the need for focus and streamlining is mainly at the configuration level.

The fuse of Xiaopeng’s great effort to adjust the organizational structure this time was an uproar caused by the wrong positioning of the G9 model. Not only the price exceeds most people’s expectations, but also the configuration is complicated and the selection is difficult. Although Xiaopeng urgently revised a set of plans within two days, changing the complex configuration to more understandable names such as pro, max (

“Wei Xiaoli”, how far is it from “BBA”? 》

). But from the stock price point of view, the G9 incident still has an impact on Xiaopeng.

According to people familiar with the matter, He Xiaopeng said in an internal meeting that he choked up.

Some people in the industry also said, “No one knows if they will suddenly die someday.”

Winter is coming, and it is inevitable to be in danger.

The decision of Ford and Volkswagen to shut down the Argo AI autonomous driving business mentioned at the beginning is also a streamlining of the business.


How are sales and share price performing?

There is a direct fuse for Xiaopeng’s change, so what about Geely and Great Wall’s sales and stock price performance?

Judging from the third-quarter financial report released by Great Wall, its third-quarter revenue and net profit were 37.346 billion yuan and 2.557 billion yuan respectively, an increase of 29.36% and 80.55% year-on-year respectively.

But the opposite is the decline in sales.

From January to September this year, Great Wall Motors sold a total of 802,300 vehicles, a year-on-year decrease of 9.25%, and the annual sales target of 1.9 million vehicles is still far away.

The results of the new energy transformation are even less gratifying. In the first nine months, the sales of new energy vehicles under Great Wall were only 96,900, with a growth rate of 14.31%, nearly 100 percentage points behind the broader market.

In the securities market, the share price of Great Wall Motors also fell from last year’s high of 69.73 yuan to the current 28.95 yuan, a drop of 58.5%.

Geely’s decline in the securities market is even more pronounced.

From a high of HK$29.59 in the same period last year, it has now fallen to HK$8.42, a drop of 71.5%.

Of course, this has nothing to do with the impact of the overall external environment. But for the car companies themselves, this is tantamount to a wake-up call.

From January to September this year, Geely sold 989,600 units, an increase of 7% from 921,800 units in the same period last year. Completed 59.9% of the annual target of 1.65 million vehicles. Compared with the Great Wall’s data performance is slightly better, but it is still difficult to achieve the ultimate goal.

In terms of new energy performance, Geely Automobile’s sales in September reached 39,227 units, a month-on-month increase of 4.6%, and the new energy penetration rate exceeded 30%, outperforming Great Wall.

When the environment cannot be changed, it is a natural logic to seek change from oneself.

In today’s market, competition is becoming more intense, and environmental uncertainty is also intensifying. For enterprises, focusing on their main business, streamlining their organizational structure, improving efficiency, and losing weight for the winter seems to be a safer strategy.

Once the auto OEMs that have been standing at the top of the industry chain have unstable predictions about the future, autonomous driving startups and smart driving suppliers that still cannot survive independently will be the first to feel chills.