The Innovation Odyssey : Lessons from an Impossible Project book cover
1st Edition

The Innovation Odyssey
Lessons from an Impossible Project

  • Available for pre-order on March 31, 2023. Item will ship after April 21, 2023
ISBN 9781032387468
April 21, 2023 Forthcoming by Auerbach Publications
226 Pages

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Book Description

The Spring Electric is a lower priced electrical vehicle from The Renault Group. It is the result of an impossible project that was a breakthrough in cultural innovation. The development of the Spring brought together a French company, a Japanese partner, an Indian project, and a Chinese developer to deliver a car for the European market. The Innovation Odyssey: Lessons from an Impossible Project examines four key issues central to this vehicle’s development:

  • The nature of the automotive industry itself and the actors involved in these "societal" innovations. The movement toward the electrification of vehicles is inseparable from public policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions. Without substantial subsidies or rigorous bans on internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs), the electric vehicle (EV) would not be developed. It is these public policies that create the conditions for an electrified vehicle market. Electrification is thus a three-way game, in which public actors play a central role alongside suppliers and customers. Therefore, an analysis of these policies is essential to understand manufacturers’ strategies in this area. What are the differences between these policies? Do they introduce regional competitive advantages? How do firms in the globalized automotive sector adapt to or take advantage of these differences? How can they combine local adaptation.
  • Product strategy. To what extent should this technological breakthrough at the heart of the car be associated with a more profound break in the definition of the automobile product? Is the answer an electrification of the dominant ICEV design (and if so, how?) or a complete redefinition of the vehicle?
  • International cooperation. Automotive design is largely concentrated in the technical centers of the parent companies: Detroit, Guyancourt, Wolfsburg, Yokohama. How can the design processes and the European and Chinese skills and know-how be combined in a project designed far from the traditional European or Japanese bases and under time constraints? Can this original form of design inspire new forms of international cooperation, and under what conditions?
  • Globalized innovation strategies. For multinational groups such as car manufacturers, competitive advantage depends on their ability not only to invent relevant products that find customers in local markets, but also to deploy them rapidly at the global level, harnessing economies of scale that a startup, however innovative, cannot achieve. How then to combine local adaptation of innovations with effective global deployment?

Table of Contents

Part 1 The Odyssey of K-ZE Chapter 1: The Long March of the Accessible Vehicle Chapter 2: Preliminary Project: Exploring the Unknown Chapter 3: An Innovative Framework for a Cooperative Design Chapter 4: An Agile Development in an Unprecedented Context Chapter 5: A Project in a Perfect Storm Chapter 6: The Phoenix Part 2: Learning from Projects Chapter 7: Societal Innovation and Administered Darwinism Chapter 8: The Project as a Means of Strategic and Chapter 9: Global Innovation Strategies and Lineage Chapter 10: Innovation and Entrepreneurial Capability in Large Companies

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Christophe Midler, Emeritus Research Director at the Centre de Recherche en Gestion (Management Research Center), National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), and Ecole polytechnique, and member of the Académie des technologies, is internationally recognized in the fi eld of project and innovation management.

Marc Alochet, an engineer by training, has spent his entire career in industry. Most of it was spent at Renault, where he held various functions and positions in product and process engineering. In 2017, he joined the Management Research Center of École Polytechnique (CRG) to do a thesis dedicated to the impacts of electrifi cation on the automotive industry, which was defended in 2020 ("Technological Disruptions and Dynamics of an Industry, the Case of Electro mobility"). Since then, he has been working at CRG on the future of the automotive industry under the eff ects of the emergence of electric, self-driving, and connected vehicles, as well as new mobility services.

Christophe de Charentenay, also an engineer by training (Ponts et Chaussées, 1987) and an MBA graduate from the Collège des Ingénieurs, has developed his career along two lines: in education as deputy director, then administrator of the Collège des Ingénieurs, and as a lecturer at Tsinghua University and the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne; and in the nuclear, steel, and automotive industries for 16 years at Renault.