Title: Modularity ten years after: an evaluation of the Brazilian experience

Authors: Mario Sergio Salerno, Otavio Silva Camargo, Mauro Borges Lemos

Addresses: Production Engineering Department, Polytechnic School, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. ' Federal University of Minas Gerais, Centre for Development and Regional Planning, Brazil. ' Federal University of Minas Gerais, Centre for Development and Regional Planning, Brazil

Abstract: In November 1995 Volkswagen (VW) do Brasil announced a plan to build a new truck plant with a new form of organisation, the so-called modular consortium. Since then, many auto plants around the world have introduced some ideas on modular assembly and design. An evaluation of this period is our main objective in this article. First, we assert that the concept of modularity in the automotive business goes beyond design, product and use. Modularity implies to share investments and risks, and can be analysed as a service relation. We propose a consideration of Zarifian|s (2001) specific definition of service as the transformation in the conditions of activity of an addressee or of their action facilities, a transformation whose consequences are judged valid and positive by the addressee or by the collectivity. At the end, we discuss the limits of modularity in the business, and utilising econometric analysis performed by Camargo (2006), we conclude that the suppliers at the first level have increased their market power of market and profit sharing.

Keywords: modularity; modular consortium; industrial condominium; assembler-supplier relationship; automobile industry; Brazil; modular assembly; modular design; automotive assembly; vehicle design; automotive suppliers.

DOI: 10.1504/IJATM.2008.020309

International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management, 2008 Vol.8 No.4, pp.373 - 381

Published online: 15 Sep 2008 *

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