Jean-Baptiste Duzan, Renault's senior vice president of purchasing, warned that over-enthusiasm is a real danger when considering what e-business can do for the auto industry.
Sure, e-business will yield savings, he told conference-goers, but they are 'hard to pinpoint' and 'quite unmeasurable.'
Renault, for example, has calculated that e-business can cut costs by $475 (E562) per vehicle. But there are some doubts surrounding that figure.
'No one has a clear idea about business-tobusiness savings in the car industry,' he said. 'Auctions are to remain marginal,' said Duzan, who oversees a purchasing budget of E18 billion per year. 'Suppliers are going to remain profitable.'
The Internet also could provide a major benefit to automakers by providing faster market research, Duzan said. 'It takes us one month to make our monthly forecasts when it ought to take one day,' he said. But a general advantage of the growing importance of e-business, Duzan told his audience, is that it has shaken carmakers out of their routine and forced them to look at new ways of doing things.
He said: 'A big company needs to be shaken to remain alert.'