Microsoft Automotive Team and Center for Automotive Research Unveil Research Program on Automotive Industry Practices

REDMOND, Wash., and TRAVERSE CITY, Mich., Aug. 4, 2004 — Microsoft Corp. and the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) today announced a four-year, comprehensive research program to reveal valuable insights on key trends and challenges in the automotive industry, with emphasis on competitive practices.

The research program, which consists of eight biannual studies, each of which focuses on a single issue, will survey business practices of key original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and top suppliers, collecting data with the objective of providing analysis and insights into industry trends and issues. The program will be jointly led by Brett Smith, director of CAR’s Forecasting Group, and Dr. Richard Gerth, assistant director of CAR’s Manufacturing Systems Group.

The first study is proposed to explore warranty management by studying data collection, analysis, systems and applications. Its aim is to improve product quality and assist the industry in understanding how warranty data is being used to improve business operations and future products.

Future studies may include topics such as lean manufacturing/six sigma, product innovation, brand equity and marketing.

“CAR is excited to work with Microsoft, a company known for its R & D and innovative approach to solving customers’ challenges,” said Dr. David E. Cole, chairman of CAR. “The management studies will combine the advances in information technology that have allowed OEMs to accumulate large amounts of industrial data on every aspect of their operations, products and customers, and will provide a framework to develop solutions that will transform that data into usable information.”

“We view our relationship with CAR as a strategic merger of the automotive and technology industries,” said John Fikany, general manager, Automotive and Industrial Equipment, Microsoft. “David Cole and his research staff at CAR bring deep industry knowledge while Microsoft brings innovative solutions developed around industry challenges. CAR provides us with further opportunities to work with industry-leading partners to provide solutions that enable our customers, OEMs and suppliers to make faster, more-informed business decisions and align the customer with the right information at the right time.”

Warranty management issues are not exclusive to the United States. They present challenges to the entire global auto industry. The Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act is only one of the regulations affecting several auto manufacturers. The TREAD Act requires OEMs and suppliers to capture data on the wear and tear of their products and implement early warning reporting systems to identify and respond to failures.

According to AMR research Inc., the global auto industry has invested an estimated $22.6 billion in warranty-related costs. The U.S. automotive industry alone contributes more than 55 percent of these costs and expects to see those costs grow to $14 billion this year.

“The interviews will focus on select automotive companies that mine field service warranty data,” Gerth said. “We are looking for case studies of warranty systems that improve future products and business practices. These processes and applications will pave the way for improvements in product quality and make those companies that adopt best practices in collection and analysis of warranty information more competitive.”

Those interested in participating in the research studies or receiving updates on the research program are welcome to send e-mail to Richard Gerth at rgerth@cargroup.org to request a research study invitation or receive updates on the program.

About the Center for Automotive Research

The Center for Automotive Research mission is to assist the global automotive industry’s competitiveness and technological advancement by conducting unbiased economic, manufacturing and transportation systems research; forecasting industry futures; advising on public policy; and conducting industry conferences and forums. CAR achieves its mission through strong working relationships with industry, government agencies, labor organizations and other major stakeholders of the international automotive community and its multidisciplinary research and conference activities.

CAR is involved in the research of significant issues that relate to the future direction of the global automotive industry. CAR’s automotive industry research is performed by the following distinct groups:

  • Economics and Business Group performs economic and business modeling of many areas of the world motor vehicle industry for the purpose of forecasting and policy analysis.

  • Forecasting Group performs automotive industry analysis to support corporate strategy, investment analysis and governmental policy development.

  • Manufacturing Systems Group focuses on advanced manufacturing technologies, primarily in the automotive industry, and manages the Auto Body Consortium.

  • Transportation Group focuses on innovative transportation systems with emphasis on the road transportation infrastructure, the infrastructure-vehicle interaction, and the information exchange between the two.

For more information on CAR, visit http://www.cargroup.org/ .

About Microsoft in Automotive

Microsoft has been working with the automotive industry for more than a decade. In manufacturing, Microsoft works with industry-leading partners to develop solutions based on Microsoft®
technologies that enable OEMs, suppliers and customers to improve efficiency, effectiveness and knowledge across the business. Through business applications, Microsoft .NET technologies and enterprise platform support, manufacturers are able to accelerate time to market, collaborate globally with engineers, reduce costs by leveraging the power of the Internet, and increase visibility into their production and supply chain processes.

From an in-vehicle technology perspective, Microsoft works with automakers, suppliers, after-market manufacturers, service providers and consumers to deliver its leading telematics software platform, Windows®
Automotive, for building next-generation, intelligent in-car solutions that deliver voice-enabled and connected information, entertainment, communication and services to vehicles.

MSN®
Autos, launched in October 1995, is the world’s largest network of automotive buying and ownership services, visited by more than 12 million consumers each month. From product reviews and surround video features to new- and used-car pricing, MSN Autos helps consumers find the car they love, at a price they can afford. With details on more than 10,000 vehicle makes and models, and 70,000 used vehicles, visitors can research and compare, identify local dealers, and receive instructions for post-purchase service and maintenance. MSN Autos has a network of more than 7,500 affiliated dealers nationwide.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Microsoft, Windows and MSN are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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