“The price of Chinese motorcycles built for the rapidly expanding Asian export market has dropped to $200 (U.S.) on average, from $700.” The Chinese motorcycle industry is breaking the stranglehold of the Japanese market not just with lower manufacturing costs, but by decentralizing — no, by removing — the centralized corporation.
Unlike traditional manufacturing industries, where tightly regimented production hierarchies spit out end products under the command of a single leader, the Chinese motorcycle industry consists of hundreds of different companies that collaborate on motorcycle design and manufacturing. The approach has been so successful that Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha, once dominant throughout Asia, have lost 40 per cent of their market share in the past 10 years.
The motorcycle market in China today is a series of points, loosely joined — one group makes frames, another speedometers, another engines. The business of collaborative design and self-organizing alliances is conducted over pots of tea in the back rooms of restaurants. One group does sales, another distribution, another customer support. Everyone gets their slice of the pie, interchange is optimized, and there is no single controlling body for the process. Linux-like, in ways.
Interestingly (inevitably?) collaborators sometimes capitalize on the the name-brand market positions of the very Japanese counterparts whose business they’re killing (check out the “Hongda Waze,” which competes with the “Honda Wave”), much as KDE and Gnome, also produced through mass collaboration, are basically knock-offs of the Windows UI.