Business Manufacturing

Could Crowdsourcing Make Better Cars?

Co-created cars could have better cupholder designs, among other features.

Co-created cars could have better cupholder designs, among other features.

Whoever designed my car doesn’t drink coffee during their morning commute. Otherwise they’d never have put the cupholder in front of the gear stick. A driver can’t fit a cup into the holder till she shifts out of park, and if she forgets to move the cup before shifting back into park she pinches her fingers or spills the coffee.

If anyone asked, I’d also suggest a bigger glove box, a hands-free way to open the hatchback when my arms are full of groceries, and a built-in cooler for keeping fish and milk cold on the drive home from the market.

The manufacturer of my next car might actually be interested in my wish-list. According to a report out this week from consulting giant PwC, co-creation is a growing trend in the automotive industry.

PwC points to the Fiat Mio, launched in Brazil in 2010, as a co-creation project that considered more than 11,000 ideas from customers in 120 countries submitted via Facebook, Twitter, and other sources. Volkswagen’s ‘People’s Car Project’ in China reeled in more than 200,000 ideas from consumers online; three became concept cars that were introduced May 2012 Beijing Auto Show. Other car makers already embracing crowdsourced design include Local Motors, Paccar’s Peterbilt Division, and General Motors, which has put a new twist on co-creation by offering Corvette buyers the chance to build their own engines, PwC reports.

PwC isn’t just talking about tapping car-buyers and drivers for input. It suggests that auto makers can benefit from crowdsourcing ideas from suppliers, dealers, partners, employees, and public sector agencies too. PwC reports:

“There is also significant opportunity to leverage the power of co-creation in areas like dealer relations, after-sales service and support, internal processes, and enhancing the company’s reputation for corporate social responsibility.”

The consulting firm predicts that the “pace of implementation will increase significantly over the next five years” and that “automakers that embrace this new level of openness and stakeholder interaction … most effectively will be well-positioned to create a sustainable leadership position for the future.”

To be sure, PwC has much to gain from manufacturers buying into the idea. Its report concludes: “PwC Management Consulting can work with your organization to explore how co-creation can propel your business to the next level in various ways.

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