New keiretsu model will thin out suppliers

Over the next five years or so, any automaker that hasn't joined a keiretsu will be fighting for its life.

I'm not talking about the traditional Toyota and Nissan keiretsu model, where automakers form alliances with suppliers. I'm talking about the new norm: tightly knit alliances with other automakers.

It's already happening. Volkswagen formed a partnership with Suzuki, Toyota signed up Subaru and Daimler aligned itself with Renault-Nissan. In classic keiretsu style, some of these automakers are taking equity stakes in their partners.

Meanwhile, Saab is hunting frantically for allies in China and Germany. Mitsubishi is trying (and trying and trying) to buddy up with Peugeot.

Here's the rub for suppliers: As automakers join alliances, model lineups will be derived from a steadily shrinking number of global platforms. European suppliers to Smart, for example, were surely chagrined to learn that the next Smart for North America will be built by Nissan.

Check out our Top 10 list of platforms at the bottom of this blog. If you can't get a contract to supply Toyota, VW or Nissan, you may find yourself frozen out by their smaller allies.

It's a cold world.

Prolific platforms
The world's 10 top light-vehicle platforms, by production:
Platform2010 units produced2016 est. units produced
Renault-Nissan X852,570,0003,917,000
VW MQB24,0003,858,000
Toyota MC2,950,0003,274,000
Ford C11,451,0002,714,000
Fiat 1991,370,0002,635,000
Hyundai HD1,897,0002,486,000
Toyota NBC1,409,0002,230,000
GM Global Gamma333,0002,123,000
GM Global Delta966,0002,022,000
PSA PF21,213,8371,847,000
Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers