Stratégies et Management de l'Innovation de Rupture dans les Pays Emergents : le cas du Véhicule Electrique en Chine

Abstract : The electric vehicle (EV) market in China is booming, but Western manufacturers are struggling to deploy their models in the world’s largest automotive market. However, carbon credits generated by EV sales are necessary for the survival of their gasoline car business in this market. Thus, what are the high potential strategic opportunities for foreign manufacturers?In collaboration with Renault and based on five missions in China between 2012 and 2016, this CIFRE research first draws a state of the art of the opaque EV market in China, a market generated top-down by government initiatives and bottom-up by a low-cost and illegal EV market (Micro EV). We make a typology of models, usages, prices and deployment territories. While the subsidized market – except for premium cars – fails to appeal to consumers, it is instead at the bottom of the official market and within the illegal Micro EV market that a natural market is developing, with more than a million Micro EV sold, without purchase incentives, to private owners since 2009.In this specific institutional context and taking into account this double product and market uncertainty, we build on innovative design theories to develop a theoretical framework for strategic exploration based on the systematic combination of strategic variables and their evaluation. We identify two innovative routes not yet engaged by foreign manufacturers: "electric carsharing" and "low-cost VE".On the "electric car sharing" side, we compare Autolib’ (Paris) and United Journey (Shenzhen), two self-service stations-based systems that seem to pave the road to the mobility of the future and definitely attract the attention of Chinese authorities because of the technologies involved. However, in addition to the fragility of the business models, this opportunity seems difficult for foreign firms to pursue due to local protectionism and the complexity of public-private partnerships in China, often based on networks of informal institutions.On the "low cost EV" side, we are deepening our knowledge of the illegal micro EV market. A field survey in Shandong Province characterizes the market as well as the regulatory scenarios of its legalization. This market responds to real mobility needs in Chinese lower-tier cities. These territories’ socio-technical environments demonstrate strong compatibility with EV. There are fewer gas stations and public transportation systems than in big cities, and parking is easier. Micro EV are charged thanks to conventional 220 V outlets – which essentially solves the problem of charging infrastructures – and allow a true proximity mobility that is more efficient than electric two-wheelers. But the forces in favor of legalizing the Micro EV market have the potential to destroy it, injecting technology and standards, and thus raising prices. An opportunity, it seems, for Western players mastering design-to-cost methodologies.Finally, we characterize the globalization of Renault's EV program in China, within the triple alliance with Nissan and the Chinese partner Dongfeng, as well as the organizational ambidexterity that accompanies it. After attempts to "exploit" the existing EV range in China, the President of the Renault-Nissan Alliance initiates the launch of an "exploratory" project, Kwid EV, a low-cost EV for China. This is the opportunity for this research to contribute to the initial hypotheses about the lower-end of the Chinese EV market and to characterize the lineage hybridization that takes place at Renault, between the EV lineage (European EV) and the low-cost lineage (Kwid in India), between two disjoined parts of the organization. The world becomes a testing ground for networked innovation, with test markets like China. Then, the goal is to make this first shot succeed before reversing the innovation.
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Bo Chen. Stratégies et Management de l'Innovation de Rupture dans les Pays Emergents : le cas du Véhicule Electrique en Chine. Gestion et management. Université Paris-Saclay, 2018. Français. ⟨NNT : 2018SACLX008⟩. ⟨tel-01803540⟩

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