Disruptive vehicle development

Disruption Disruptive vehicle development

Published on 14.09.2021 by Prof. Dr. Stefan Rose, research professor for marketing and lecturer at Bern University of Applied Sciences

Innovation processes in the automotive industry generally take many years and cost billions. Streetscooter GmbH has shown how, with a disruptive development network, an electric vehicle can be realized that is customer-specific, economic, environmentally-friendly and reliable.

In recent years, the increase in electronic commerce has led to significant growth in parcel consignments and logistics activities. This increase is at odds with the current climate targets and creates a need for environmentally-friendly solutions for parcel delivery.

Currently, large car manufacturers are not in a position to offer affordable e-mobility and have long product development cycles. The development process for a new vehicle generally takes seven years before the vehicle can be mass-produced. So how can we overcome a challenge like this?

StreetScooter has impressively demonstrated that it can be done, particularly when startups think outside of the box and also give other third parties an insight into their thinking too. Instead of pursuing their idea for the development of an environmentally friendly electric delivery vehicle in secret, the engineers at StreetScooter chose to build a disruptive development network which included the integration of 80 partners.

The disruptive network approach is based on the assumption that sharing knowledge significantly reduces development time and creates the ideal conditions for complex technological innovations. With this approach, all relevant partners are involved right from the first phases of the development process. A major advantage of this cooperative approach is that the development process is not guided by a centralized pyramid structure, as is often the case with big manufacturers. The disruptive network approach does away with rigidly defined requirement specifications and other such specifications. Instead, the specifications for the product being developed are initially left open and are defined jointly with the network partners over the course of the project.

This creates a certain amount of freedom which provides room for innovations, allows for shorter development times and leads to more market-driven end results.

However, the success of StreetScooter is not just down to the exchange of knowledge within the network. Another key to success for disruptive development networks is the early integration of customers into the development process. Instead of approaching potential buyers with a market-ready product, StreetScooter involved over 150 DHL delivery personnel in the development process of their delivery vehicle. By taking an iterative approach to the integration of customer and user feedback, a reference model − that met the requirements of Deutsche Post in terms of equipment, load capacity and safety standards − was able to be completed after just a one-year development phase. For example, a cargo space without wheel wells was designed in response to feedback from delivery personnel. The result was a larger and more easily accessible loading area. This openness and transparency towards partners and end customers throughout the entire process ensured that the vehicle could be ideally tailored to requirements within a relatively short period of development.


Due to the current situation, Connecta Bern will again be held as a digital event in 2021. Connecta is renowned for shining a light on the diverse nature of digitization and this year will be no different with content presented across the three formats of Connecta Blog, Connecta TV and Connecta Talk. Find out more here: www.swisspost.ch/connecta.


Prof. Dr. Stefan Rose is a research professor for marketing and a lecturer at Bern University of Applied Sciences

In his research Stefan focuses on how consumer behaviour can be explained on the basis of psychological principles.

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