Trucks and SUVs: Collaboration among enemies?

Photo Credit: flickr user “helicon_” – some rights reserved

Photo Credit: flickr user “danietctw” – some rights reserved

Ever wonder why I put so much stock in collaboration in class? Here is a story out of this week’s Detroit Free Press.

Toyota has the market cornered on hybrid vehicles. The Prius alone accounts for over half of the hybrid automobile market in the US. However, ask any farmer why they don’t own a hybrid and the answer will almost always mention that complete lack of towing power.

Ford is known nationwide for their powerful line of “Built Ford Tough” trucks. But, those who have them lament their lousy gas mileage.

The situation is summed up well by Sarah Laskow writing for GOOD in a piece called, “Making Hybrid Pick-ups Work for America.”

“For as long as there have been hybrids, this has been the dynamic. Weenie greenies drive hybrids. People who drive trucks rescue the hybrid drivers when their cars can’t get the job done. But five years from now, the pickup pulling a Prius out of the mud could be a hybrid itself.”

So, what to do about that? Where can an American heavy duty pick-up manufacturer and a Japanese hybrid specialist go to support their respective shortcomings?

How about to each other? According to Greg Gardner, a short-lived international alliance may be on the doorstep where Ford and Toyota work together to create a powerful, yet fuel efficient line of pick-ups and SUVs. (from “Ford, Toyota to collaborate on hybrids” published in the Detroit Free Press on August 23, 2011.)

“Ford is taking advantage of Toyota’s hybrid leadership — it has sold 3.3 million hybrid vehicles since 1997. Toyota will gain from Ford truck-making expertise.”

Here is the bottom line as far as I see it. Collaboration is the way of the future. Don’t think that these two automakers are trying to better the world. Business is still about profit margin. But, they clearly understand that by offering some of their expertise to their competitors and getting some back in return, they can create a product that there is a huge demand for. Creating such a product will benefit their profit margins, even if it helps their competitors as well.

The new economies will be collaborative and so we will learn to be collaborative. It isn’t about reaching higher than those around you. It is about reaching as high as you can. Sometimes that means giving your competitors a boost because you know they can give you one back.

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