My Opinion on Car Repair and Parts

My opinion is that car companies should ‘open source’ their car parts. By completely open sourcing their designs and methods they would be encouraging a huge level of innovation across the board.

That is a huge dream, which I imagine will not become a reality in the near future. Given that most manufacturers are only able to protect their investment by patenting their designed systems.

So…. how about this as a simpler system.

Create almost an API for car parts… This would be a tool that could be used to manufacture parts either the tool itself or just a set of plans for other people to put together. This tool should fit the majority of car panels available for the model of car its made for to allow for flexibility in creation and a simple building system.

This would allow other businesses to be involved with efficiently manufacturing and improving parts (similar to how a computer is built with industry standard connectors) and focus your time on the design and efficiency. Where I can see this being particularly useful is with car panels.

What would be necessary for success would be generic ‘building block’ type panels and a simple, cheap, light and strong generic material for making the panels from. I am not very good at mechanical compounds but maybe something like fibre glass or a polymer that will harden when dry.

A big advantage of this process is that parts don’t need to be manufactured to estimate demand. You need a part, it gets manufactured right there in the shop or at the local manufacturer who manufactures ALL the available panels possible, in single units if needed.

Allowing smaller businesses into this space will mean the best research can get done. Smaller companies working together instead of one big company hoarding secrets. Think about one company focusing entirely on dashboard design or polymer materials for harder and safer panel material.

Is this type of business possible? Feasible? desirable?

I dunno, its just my opinion.


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7 Responses to My Opinion on Car Repair and Parts

  1. I really like your post. Does it copyright protected?

  2. GarykPatton says:

    How soon will you update your blog? I’m interested in reading some more information on this issue.

  3. Monkey says:

    no it certainly is not copyrighted. I get way too many ideas in my head for one lifetime. But would much prefer to benefit from the use of them then the money.

    If you have some other information feel free to add it. This is as far as I’ve considered this problem. 🙂

  4. insanity says:

    Toyota actually had to dabble in this internally once upon a time:

    The key difficulty is money. If a car company can’t make money off supplying parts… how can they fund the design of the next car? That is the key reason some many companies keep their parts secret… pure revenue stream.

  5. Monkey says:

    But parts can be copied by other companies through taking the cars apart. I’m suggesting that those reproduction plans be licensed by the car companies out to other businesses. E.g. crash repair companies buy a license to produce the different models of cars -you buy a license for BMW and you get access to the car parts -it could be panels only, or engine parts… then its up to the repair companies to decide what parts they manufacture and stock to be held etc.

    In some ways it allows greater specialization, and could also help prevent situations like the one that hit Toyota in your link. If the quality of the parts is great enough then they can resell the parts back into the manufacturing process.

  6. insanity says:

    “But parts can be copied by other companies through taking the cars apart”

    This is a legally gray area though. You can buy non-genuine parts, but the companies can refuse the right to warranty cars with these parts under some conditions. The reproduction plans can actually be licensed, but they are expensive, hence the overhead costs on “genuine” (read: licensed) parts.

    I’m not sure I understand the difference between current to open-sourcing parts if they still need to be licensed. Licensing parts is what already happens… companies could likely buy the plans for most parts as long as they agree to a large number of conditions and sign some heavy NDAs.

    Are you proposing companies give away their plans and allow anyone to implement them without licensing?

  7. Monkey says:

    Licensing is definitely vital. It allows them to maintain a higher quality.
    What I am suggesting is about moving car companies away from the industry and responsibility of spare part manufacturing to focus on the complete car manufacture and design -more about creating brands and allowing external businesses to manage the risks and develop new efficiencies and techniques.

    What is the cost of licensing plans for licensed parts? I would suggest that the costs are not only artificially high due to the licensing but also conditional to the extra costs of shipping the parts from the factories where they are manufactured across state lines or internationally.

    There could be an opportunity for small, local car part manufacturers to develop short-runs of popular parts, Mostly considering things like car panels of cars -older and new. -If the licensing costs were affordable and allowed for a reasonable return. This idea is more about borrowing from the short and single run manufacturing systems incorporated so well into clothing and smaller manufactured items such as Corporate gifts etc.

    What are some other possibilities for ways that car manufacturers can operate in a more dynamic and modular way?

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