European automakers, including industry giants like Volkswagen, Renault, and Stellantis, are embarking on what is somehow an unconventional strategy for them: competition. After ignoring China's electric vehicles (EVs) and Tesla for a decade and a half, their back-to-the-wall, the only way out is now ramping up a collaborative effort with sworn competitors to produce affordable EVs of their own.

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An β€˜Airbus of autos’ is one of the ideas being floated to help Europe’s carmakers fend off existential threats.

Coopetition is all about dealing with discomfort. Knowing you won't survive on your own, you pool effort with a few others, trying to get out of a strategic bind together but not knowing who among your competitors might get the best deal out of it. And maybe it won't be you.

Most of the time, coopetition strategy is not a visionary take on future events in the market but a response to the evolving landscape where a sense of urgency is growing. Carlos Tavares, the CEO of Stellantis NV, emphasized many times that European carmakers are still unprepared to face the market going away from gas and diesel engines. And while Tesla has been a real threat to the high-end sector for a while now, it's really the advancements made by Chinese state-supported manufacturers, who prepare their entry into the European market with often superior and more affordable electric models that was the last straw.

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My discussion about China’s rise as a leading tech and industrial superpower is not new. Bundled with this discussion is the fact that the way Chinese companies compete with European and American incumbents is complicated as they don’t see markets as if they were lagging twenty years behind: The problem

This push, compounded with European carmakers' realization that switching technologies was met with unexpected challenges such as glitchy software, high operating expenses, and maintenance complexities, has intensified the sense of urgency.