DaimlerChrysler is still vague about how open the Mercedes-Benz parts bin is to other brands within the group, but the automaker's decision-making process is set.
DaimlerChrysler Chairman Jürgen Schrempp has said parts sharing between the group's brands will be widespread. But the executive in charge of coordinating the sharing says DaimlerChrysler will rigorously protect the Mercedes-Benz brand.
DaimlerChrysler will try to establish global electronic links between brands for purchasing and other business operations, said Rüdiger Grube, deputy board member for corporate development. Daimler-Chrysler will also incorporate common electrical architecture in all vehicles to encourage the use of unseen, under-the-skin parts to reduce costs, Grube said at a DaimlerChrysler Innovation Symposium in Stuttgart this month.
But the six senior executives on DaimlerChrysler's new Executive Automotive Committee are focused on preserving purity for the group's main car brands - Mercedes-Benz, Smart, Maybach, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Mitsubishi - Grube said.
Protecting the Mercedes-Benz brand is especially important, he added. But certain technologies and innovations now exclusive to Mercedes-Benz, such as Electronic Stability Program software, will eventually spread to other DaimlerChrysler brands.
The Committee has established central brand guidelines with eight attributes:
* Core brand values
* Driving characteristics
* Vehicle segment coverage
* Price positioning
* Market presence by region
Within those boundaries the products of all brands will share components, Grube said.
DaimlerChrysler will look for economies of scale in global purchasing, using the online purchasing exchange Covisint whenever possible.
The group will use existing sales structures across the world to help sell all brands.
DaimlerChrysler will redistribute production and development resources globally.
For example, the Executive Automotive Committee has already approved a reduction in the number of engines and automatic transmissions DaimlerChrysler produces by 2006. And the group's Chrysler division and alliance partners Mitsubishi and Hyundai will jointly develop a gasoline engine family with capacities between 1.8 liters and 2.4 liters.
Projects already under way include a joint platform for the next-generation Mitsubishi Lancer and Chrysler Neon, and another for the Chrysler Sebring/Stratus and Mitsubishi Galant.
DaimlerChrysler will also impose a common global information technology structure throughout the group, although there will be some variations for specific brands or plants.
This so-called DCXNET system consists of four parts: business-to-business, which is connected to Covisint and deals largely with purchasing; business-to-consumer; Workforce Connect (business-to-employees); and Vehicle Connect (telematics).