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GeekCar | WM Motor: What is the Real “Customer-Centered” New Car-Making Philosophy?

If you think there were only speeches delivered by guests at the “GeekCar Trip Mode Conference,” you are absolutely wrong. In fact, you would have been immediately greeted by a “joyous” atmosphere before you even stepped into the arena.


What you would have found there were cool electronic music, freestyle performances presented by rap singers and a VR car racing game. If you believe that you’re a qualified artist, you may have even created something on a white T-shirt...


Of course, taking pictures and sharing pictures on WeChat Moments would have been an irresistible temptation.


The creator of this style is WM, a new car-making team also known as the “OEM automaker.” At our conference, they built an exhibition booth and invited 10 of its fans over from Shanghai to attend the event. As all these ten people were active members of the WM Community when it was first launched, and this “house party” just constituted another activity of the WM Community.

 

The Community is a “customer-centered experience community.” As Lobo Lu described it, it’s “a group consisting of people who introduce innovations in life, develop interests, build connections and transform society.”


To Lobo Lu, Vice President of WM, a member of the post 70s generation, and the man in charge of strategic planning for WM, the above scene would have never taken place if he had to report to his superior, a member of the post 50s generation, as required before.


This just shows the difference in mindset between traditional auto manufacturers and new car making teams. New car making teams focus more on the experience of “customers,” a top-to-bottom mindset rarely seen in traditional auto manufacturers.


As both customer and enterprise are isolated islands detached from each other, how to connect them is what a new car-making team wants to explore. On the other hand, connecting customers with products and trip scenarios is no easy task.


Rather than “customer-first,” the more precise description should be “customer-centered trip modes.” For a new car making team like WM, their ambition goes above and beyond manufacturing electric cars. The ultimate goal of their business operation is to become a “trip service provider” in the market, a goal shared by other giant automakers.


For WM, a “customer-centered new trip mode” features three elements:


1.Super ID: digitalize the DNA of each customer;


2.Mass production of electric cars, i.e. the “hardware carrier” as we call it;


3.Community, i.e., WM Community.


Lobo Lu offered a detailed explanation of the above concepts:


As for “trip mode,” WM will make efforts to realize the datafication of the DNA of each customer in order to match customers with the same aesthetic taste who may share what they have with the others during the trip. Covering everything from interior settings, charging intervals, temperatures, music, preferences and traveling tracks, WM’s Super ID may eventually help solve traffic jams and realize the goal of shared travel.


An organization is needed in order to connect WM and its customers, which may allow the culture to become the real scenario for contact. When this goal is achieved, the value of WM will be materialized.


To be more specific, the concept of the “customer account” is the prerequisite for the creation of a new trip mode. A customer platform is required to assemble customers and data and bring about chemical reactions among them, the underlying philosophy of the operation of WM and Super ID.


For WM, an advocate of Customization, its customers will someday engage in the R&D, production and other aspects of its operation, including determining the demand for products, converting demand into functions, getting involved in R&D, getting involved in the manufacturing process, getting involved in channel building, getting involved in business operations and offering support for iterations, etc.


Tactically speaking, tasks have to be completed by a new car-making team before unveiling its mass produced electric car, and these include attracting fans and potential customers, as well as collecting their feedback.


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WM also introduced the concept of the “carbon emissions reduction point” within WM Community. By “carbon emissions reduction point,” they mean that each customer will be rewarded for his or her contributions to carbon emissions reductions, i.e., a “carbon emissions reduction point” can someday be exchanged or converted into cash. For example, a “carbon emissions reduction point” will be granted if a customer does not drive a gas-powered car on a specific day or participates in public welfare activities. “Carbon emissions reduction points” can be traded in designated markets.


For Lobo Lu, building a car is the basic competence of a new automaker. The real value lies in connecting DNA and data. “For connected cars, the key factors are software and services rather than the car itself. Unlike C2C-based Taobao, the key to the success of auto industry is connection and efficiency.”


Despite being an ambitious vision, building a travel platform requires the completion of a basic task—building a car.


Being fully aware of this, WM has devoted much of its time to basic work within the past one and a half years, i.e., since the establishment of its team to mass production of affordable smart electric cars.


The key word is “affordable”.


As Lobo Lu explained, “If we build low-quality cars which fall apart after two to three years of usage, we may lose our competitiveness on the travel platform. However, if we build an expensive mini car, we will not gain a competitive advantage in operation and cost when we build a travel platform.”


To avoid the two extremes, the first SUV built by WM costs from RMB 200,000 to 300,000, with over 600 km of constant speed mileage and a 450 km range measured on NEDC, making it a good commuting solution in cities.

 

Only with such a level of mileage can WM achieve high operation efficiency when building its own shared car platform.


As revealed by Lobo Lu, WM will launch its brand three months later. During his PPT presentation, he stopped at one page for a long time. There were only two words on that page: “always on.” He won’t explain the meaning of the phrase until three months later.


As for production, WM, which has its own plant, embraced good news over the past few days: the main structure of the four processing workshops of its plant had been completed, and the equipment of two workshops had been set in place (the plant is located at the Oujiangkou in Wenzhou). In December, they will conduct equipment testing. The first batch of cars will be ready for trial-production next March.


This is not the first time that Lobo Lu attended the GeekCar offline event. He came three years before when he was still working for a traditional car manufacturer. To attend the event, he ironed his shirt carefully. What he didn’t expect was that he would be confronted with a completely new style.


Perhaps just because of that experience, he left a big company and started to work for an electric car start-up. Without that “prompting,” there would never have been the scenes described here at the beginning of our story. To sum up, all changes come from a change in mindset.


Just as Lobo Lu said, “The founders of WM are members of the post 70s generation, and most of our key partners are also members of the same generation. Many of the executives are members of the post 80s generation. And 40% of the staff are members of the post 90s generation who constantly tell us what kind of car we should make.”


Reprinted from: GeekCar

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