Autobots, trapped in “inner volume”


996, PPT, internal friction, a lot.
By Zhang Yi
In the last few days of 2020, the disclosure of “SAIC Group installed human body infrared sensor to monitor employees” set off waves inside and outside the industry.
According to an exposed internal e-mail, in order to “implement the work requirements of SAIC’s ninth general manager meeting in 2020 and better arrange the number of department seats”, the company decided to install “infrared passive pyroelectric sensors” to collect data at the staff stations on the 2nd to 4th floors of R & D Building 1.
Source: Zhihu
As soon as the news came out, many employees were on the alert. The functions of the sensor include “judging the actual working time of employees by intelligent algorithm based on the temperature and movement of human body”, which means that sensitive information such as the number and duration of employees leaving the working position may be recorded by the enterprise in real time.
Before long, the official account of SAIC passenger car responded on Zhihu platform that “it won’t and doesn’t agree to manage employees in this way”. The sensor is installed for data collection and trial operation, and the time is expected to be 2 weeks. After that, all of them will be removed. The purpose is to transform part of the office environment into shared office.
Doubts did not subside. The move is still interpreted by the outside world as the enterprise “monitoring employees”, trying to put an end to “paid shit” and other “fishing” behavior.
In the Internet industry, “fishing” is seen by employees as resistance to overtime culture. But in the view of enterprise managers, these behaviors are the enemies of efficiency. So when Kwai’s installation of timers in the company’s toilets and Baidu’s application for “employee status prediction” patents were exposed, the contradiction between workers and big companies intensified.
In the past, because of the sudden death tragedy of pinduoduo employees, “996”, “overtime”, “extra long working hours” and other words once again aroused public resentment. The original academic term “neijuan”, which is difficult to understand, has also been used to describe the repetitive meaningless competition within the Internet industry, causing widespread resonance.
However, “inner volume” does not seem to be the patent of the Internet industry. Automobile practitioners gradually find that affected by the industry change and the trend of learning Internet, the automobile industry is becoming more and more “volume”. According to ID: Auto time, many employees in traditional main engine plants, especially in emerging departments such as intelligent Internet connection and automatic driving, are beginning to feel a steady stream of pressure.
Endless overtime, sudden pay cuts, PPT that only looks good but doesn’t land on the ground, product iteration that only strives for speed regardless of rules The will of the upper leadership is transmitted downward, becoming one mountain after another, pressing on every nerve endings of the automobile system.
At about 10 p.m., No. 3 building of SAIC Group was lit up
996, “horse racing”, last elimination
From the second half of 2020, Gao Ying obviously feels that the pressure from work is getting stronger and stronger.
A lot of the pressure comes from the leadership. As a middle-level member of the digital transformation Department of a traditional independent car company in China, Gao Ying’s main work every day is to “make all kinds of reports and materials” to the top leaders. There are both formal reports and informal ppt.
“The leader will say,” I’m in a hurry. How long can you finish what goal for me? “If you can’t persuade him, the follow-up resources will not be available.” Gao Ying told futureauto daily that there is a big contradiction in this. Digitalization itself is not an immediate work. It takes a long time to put in to see the effect, but the leaders are very conservative. If they can’t see the result, they are not willing to invest. Instead, they ask the following people to report and explain repeatedly.
Meetings are lengthy, “often one afternoon, one night, sometimes even to 11 or 12 pm.”. When leaving the company building in the early morning, Gao Ying can always see that many offices are still on.
If overtime meetings can effectively solve the problem, it’s all right. But Gao Ying finds that the discussion comes and goes, and even the direction of the Department is not clear. Gradually, he and his colleagues become very anxious. The company has the last elimination system, and everyone must be aware that “internal resources are very limited. If I don’t work hard, I may be eliminated.”.
Limited resources refers to the Department where Gao Ying is located. There is more than one team promoting digital transformation, and teams that do not do well may be “collectively marginalized”. This kind of working mechanism is called “internal horse racing” on the Internet. Two or even more teams move towards the same goal and the fittest survive.
Last elimination and “internal horse racing” are the management weapons that Internet enterprises are proud of. Ren Zhengfei, the founder of Huawei, once publicly called out to employees: “Huawei is not a hospice. You must have real skills to avoid being eliminated. Management positions and supervisors are forced to eliminate 10% of the last positions every year. ” “Internal horse racing” is one of the favorite games of Ma Huateng, chairman of Tencent’s board of directors. Wechat is Tencent’s internal super product born through the “horse racing” mechanism.
Human resources departments of automobile enterprises also want to learn from the advanced management experience of the Internet, but in the actual implementation process, it gradually changed.
When 996 became the standard work and rest for Internet users, auto companies began to encourage employees to work overtime. “Looking at the Internet companies working overtime, we have to work overtime too. If we don’t work overtime, it seems that we will fall behind.” Gao Ying said. An employee in the R & D Department of Great Wall Motors also told futureauto daily that as long as the leader does not leave his office, the employees will not be able to get off work.
But in Internet companies, 996 is generally linked with high salary, and the salary level of employees in traditional automobile enterprises is difficult to match.
There are not a few fresh graduates who can get an annual salary of 500000 yuan when they enter Internet factories. However, in the automobile manufacturing industry, if engineers want to get the same level of salary, they have to work for 8 to 10 years, at least at the level of senior manager. A person from the main engine factory who is responsible for recruitment in the new first tier cities told futureauto daily that if he works for three years after his master’s degree, he can only get an annual salary of about 200000-300000 yuan if he goes to the auto company. “The first tier cities will be slightly higher, but not too much.”.

In addition, when working overtime in large Internet factories, most companies will pay their employees overtime wages that are twice the daily salary according to the labor law, but this is also difficult to guarantee in auto companies. Not only dare not expect overtime pay, many employees are also shrouded in the shadow of pay cuts.
People familiar with the situation disclosed to futureauto daily that the performance of employees in SAIC Group is graded as a, B, C and D from good to bad. Most employees will get grade C. about 80% of the half year bonus and year-end bonus will be paid to the employees whose performance is rated as grade C, and about 60% of the bonus will be paid to the employees whose performance is rated as grade D. From the second half of 2018, the proportion of grade D employees in the group has gradually increased from 3% to about 20% – 30%.
Although it has not been explicitly put forward, the person familiar with the matter thinks that this is “the last elimination in disguise” and “if you play too much at level D, you can’t stand it and go away”.
Built by “user operation” and ppt
Fear of domination
It’s not the first time that the Internet has blown into the auto industry. As early as 2014, Internet players such as Jia Yueting, Li Bin and he Xiaopeng knocked on the door of the car circle. At that time, the voice of “redefining cars with the Internet” came one after another.
The fashionable and immature new force failed to win the eyes of traditional car companies. In early 2015, Wang Chuanfu, chairman of BYD, said frankly in an interview: automobiles belong to the traditional manufacturing industry, and the Internet does not have the conditions for subversion. “As for how the Internet makes cars, it’s all a joke.”.
Wang Chuanfu guessed the beginning of the story, and “ppt car making” soon became a laughing stock of the industry. After several rounds of reshuffle, most of the new forces, including Rangers, who are busy building concepts and burning up their money but are unable to build mass-produced cars, have left the stage of history.
Source: Ranger car
But he missed the climax of the story. Just in the past 2020, Tesla bin Laden was on the top of the market value of the global auto companies. Weilai, Xiaopeng and ideal gathered in the U.S. stock market. The sales volume and stock price took off. They not only sold more and more cars, but also became the capital pet.
When the joke becomes a reality, the once high-profile traditional car companies have to re-examine the leaders of new energy track, and even learn how to make better use of the Internet to make cars.
“We have already felt the threat of new car building forces. They have many advantages, such as Weilai, which is very popular with users. But we can’t because great wall is a big company. ” Yao Fei, head of marketing and Communication Department of Great Wall Motor, once told futureauto daily.
Having said that, car companies including Great Wall, BAIC and Geely have made it clear that they want to learn from new forces such as Weilai how to operate users.
People familiar with the matter told futureauto daily that the management of the traditional main engine plant is concerned about how to truly implement the user’s thinking, but “no one has found the answer” in a short time. According to the analysis, the sustainability of Weilai’s user operation itself is not high, and the cost of unit vehicle is diluted by the scale of vehicles. However, under Weilai’s service mode, with the scale of vehicles, the service cost of unit vehicle will increase.
Although it is said to do user operation, in the actual implementation process, the traditional idea of path dependence is still very important. “Some OEMs like to transfer personnel from within to new departments to lead their business, such as the person in charge of R & D to the user operation post.” A person who is familiar with the operation of a traditional auto company introduced to futureauto daily. However, according to this way of thinking, user operation is often simply and rudely understood as plugging user cases into PPT and press conference, “we have to have what others have, and we can’t fall behind when others mention user co creation.”.
Traditional car people are not good at how to make bright and cool display materials, but they have to work overtime and even discuss the scheme all night. But most of the time, “they still go around in the original cognition and make a lot of efforts, and the final product and effect are not ideal.” when some insiders of the main engine factory comment on their colorful marketing plan, they feel as if they are back to the “ppt car making era” and “it’s very similar to the rise of LETV car making wave, but it doesn’t land.”.
In addition to the good user circle culture, Tesla and Weilai are able to rise because they have brought the concept of intelligent car and automatic / assisted driving to the ground. This is also one of the most difficult bones in the process of the Internet of traditional car enterprises.
More than one person doing the evaluation once told futureauto daily that the vehicle machine interaction system of most independent car companies only stays at the “Kindergarten” level. Li Peng, the person in charge of Great Wall Motor’s “SL project” and the executive officer of the former Digital Center, has also publicly “bombarded”: today’s “smart cars” are not intelligent at all, “much like those” function phones “with intelligent applications in the past,” and today’s “Internet” on cars is “not connected to each other.”.
Source: Financial Express
Realizing that we can’t do intelligence by ourselves, seeking close cooperation with Internet companies has become the consistent choice of traditional car companies. Since the second half of 2020, Chang’an has joined hands with Huawei, SAIC has joined hands with Alibaba again, and Geely has brought in Baidu, trying to seize the opportunity on the road of building the next generation of intelligent cars. However, the cooperation between Internet people and auto people is not smooth sailing, and there are too many places to run in.
“It’s very difficult for people at Great Wall Motors to understand the concept of vehicle machine interaction we’re talking about, or even not understand it.” A Xiandou intelligent employee had previously told futureauto daily. Xiandou intelligent, born in 2019, is the designated strategic partner of Great Wall Motor in the field of intelligent Internet connection. The company atmosphere is a typical Internet enterprise, which is in sharp contrast with great wall motor, which is a traditional automobile enterprise.
Future auto daily also learned that at the end of 2020, when the Zhiji auto project was launched, some of the employees who refused to join SAIC were worried about the recurrence of the disadvantages of cooperation between SAIC and zebra. Previously, due to the running in of teams with different backgrounds, “SAIC’s people don’t have a high voice in the joint venture company, so they have to listen to Ali for a lot of things.”.
Make an app and run a car company,
Can it be the same?

Tesla and Weilai, born in the digital age, are both using the Internet to do their car business, which is one of the reasons for their high valuation.
Tesla’s product thinking is reflected in the factory design. At the opening ceremony of the super factory in Nevada, Tesla CEO Elon Musk stressed that “you should design the factory with the idea of designing products, make the factory an integrated system, and use the basic principles of physics to maximize its functions.”.
Weilai, a new car manufacturing company in China, has adopted a similar design concept in its ecological construction. Sales is not sales in the traditional sense, and stores are not traditional 4S stores. Car owners are not the “God” of traditional consumption scenes. Loyal car owners can even become a sales role and recommend people around to buy cars from Weilai.
However, it is difficult for people from traditional main engine plants to think with such an idea. In their opinion, there is a fundamental difference between building a car and making an Internet app.
Developing an app can go online within a few months after project approval, and then continuously iterate and optimize in the operation process. However, as an industrial product, the traditional automobile has a long supply chain and manufacturing chain. Once the product definition is determined, the whole industrial chain has to cooperate with the mass production of the whole vehicle. The cost of investment is very high, and the cost of trial and error is high. It is almost impossible to start over because of a new idea in the middle.
According to the analysis of the insiders of the main engine plant, it will take at least three years from the final decision to make a car to its real launch, but after three years, consumers’ preferences are unknown. Therefore, under a high degree of uncertainty and high risk, the definition and research and development of new models will be particularly cautious, which also determines that the transformation of the automobile industry is difficult to run as fast as the Internet.
In addition, the different starting point of making cars also makes it difficult for the management of traditional automobile manufacturers to make products and services with a low attitude.
Ashlee Vance, the author of Musk’s biography, once described the scene he saw in Tesla. Tesla’s employees work together in a completely open environment, and geeks and blue collar workers “work side by side” in the workshop to solve complex problems. There is no difference in job level and function between them. According to the New York Times, in 2018, musk personally went to the scene to analyze the problems with the team, stayed in the production workshop for three months, and achieved the goal of producing 5000 vehicles per week.
It’s almost inconceivable for traditional car manufacturers.
In theory, employees can communicate directly with cross level leaders, but in fact, they have little contact with each other. More than one employee of a traditional OEM told futureauto daily that some internal employees would send e-mails to cross level leaders to feed back problems. As a result, the leader would directly forward or copy the e-mails to your direct leaders without any change for internal solution.
A person in the industry who once followed up the new car company to build a team from 0 to 1 told future auto daily that the biggest advantage of new cars is that they have no traditional policy or process constraints, and everything they do is a blank sheet of paper, starting from 0. But the traditional car companies have formed a very clear process, rules and ways of doing things, it is very difficult to break.
As a result, the biggest problem for Zhiji automobile and Landau automobile is the independence of the new company. People close to the above-mentioned high-end brands told futureauto daily, “now too many people still have a curse in their hearts: will the parent company’s assessment mechanism for the senior executives and supervisors of the new company still be rigid. For example, whether the assessment will stop at the number of cars sold and the number of license plates per year. ”
Source: Zhiji automobile
It is worth noting that some traditional car companies have made changes intentionally.
In 2020, Wei Jianjun, chairman of Great Wall Motor, first asked in an internal letter, “will Great Wall Motor survive next year?” Later, the system of “de aggregation” and “rotating president” was implemented in the company. In essence, it is to strengthen internal equal communication and weaken the management level.
The ideal is very good, but there seems to be a gap in reality. Insiders of Great Wall Motors told futureauto daily that the original “general” in the employee’s address book has been changed into an English name or a pseudonym, but there is still some difference between “shouting as you should when you meet and report” and “calling Zhang Yiming” to learn from others.
Individual salvation under the strange circle of “inner scroll”
The term “Involution” originated from the description of a phenomenon of agricultural production by American anthropologist giltz in his book “involution of Agriculture: the process of ecological change in Indonesia”. Later, academically, it refers to the phenomenon that a social or cultural model stagnates or cannot be transformed into another advanced model after reaching a certain form at a certain stage of development.
But now the Internet is full of “infidelity”, the word has been given more meaning, one of which is to obtain limited resources and advantages by squeezing oneself. “I would rather kill myself than starve my colleagues” is a vivid footnote.
In the automotive industry, the premise of “Involution” has been established in 2018. In 2018, the production and sales of domestic automobiles were 27.809 million and 28.081 million respectively, and the production and sales decreased by 4.2% and 2.8% respectively compared with the same period of last year, which was the first annual decline since 1990. When the competition turns from the incremental market to the stock market, the auto companies are also forced to get involved in a tired and protracted war.
In Gao Ying’s view, traditional OEMs have not made great breakthroughs in technology, dealer mode and brand marketing means in the past few years. “You have reached a ceiling on the way forward, and you have tried very hard to make a breakthrough, but it is basically ineffective.”. Under such circumstances, it is a tacit choice for auto companies to lie on their original experience and do conservative but always “right” things.
Compared with other industries, the subversion and reform of the automobile industry has been slow, and the vast majority of people have noticed the prelude to the change. Driven by the sense of crisis, employees in the whole auto industry have made a lot of changes.

Some people decide to continue to work in the automotive industry, but the direction of development has changed along the technology; some people want to leave, but because of age, stability, limited qualifications and other objective factors, they can only drift with the tide; and those who are coerced by anxiety, take the initiative to use their spare time to take MBA, professional certificates, sign up for training courses, actively communicate with industry experts, and try to maintain their competitiveness A state of progress.
At the same time that the balance of car building tilts, the Autobots in it gradually flow. In the second half of 2020, many interviewees contacted by future auto daily will jump from traditional car companies to new car companies such as Tesla.
“If you want to go to a new car manufacturing company, the system of the traditional main engine factory is rigid and the salary is low. If you want to change jobs, you can increase the salary by more than 30%.” Coincidentally, Zhao Feng, a middle-level technician in the auto industry, doesn’t want to endure any more. Around him, there are many managers who have entered the management of traditional car companies from big Internet companies and new car companies, but many of them left after three or five months, “it’s difficult for traditional main engine plants to retain people, the space within the system is limited, and there are many assessment restrictions.”.
Zhao Feng, who has been dealing with machines in the workshops of traditional car companies for more than 10 years, has spent his initial enthusiasm with meager overtime pay and wages. “When you do it, you will feel that you don’t have much enthusiasm, that is, a screw job In a large company, there is a radish and a pit, and the bottleneck is very obvious. ”
Dongfeng Honda factory in Wuhan source: CNN
“I’m too old. I’m over 35. I can only work in the auto industry.” Zhang Qiang, a research and development personnel who jumped from a joint venture car company to a new car company, told future auto daily, “my friends in the Internet industry say that they mainly recruit young people, fresh graduates or those with one or two years of work experience, who can work and do not have high wage requirements.”
Zhao Lei is in a new car company, the first mass production car has not been officially put into production, because of financial problems, the company ran aground. “I usually work very little overtime. Sometimes I send e-mails and hold some conference calls at home. The only hope is that the company can get on the right track and have a relatively stable job. ”
Affected by the epidemic, Liu Rui, who has been unemployed for nearly a year, began to go to the gym every day in the second half of 2020, listening to inspirational songs while running. He observes on the treadmill every day, and there are four waves of people beside him. “Only sports can maintain a good mentality and combat effectiveness. Well, I hope to find a job as soon as possible. ”
With the delivery of domestic model y and the promotion of the launch rhythm of lower price models, Tesla has accelerated the sinking from luxury car market to mass market, and the pressure faced by Chinese automobile brands has obviously upgraded.
“In the face of Tesla’s soaring sales, everyone is very anxious.” A salesman who has been in and out of many new car companies said that independent brands can only speed up the pace of pushing new products on the one hand, and let the current team think of ways to ensure that the products can be sold on the other hand.
Michael Valentin, partner of opep, a consulting firm, said in his book from Toyota doctrine to Tesla doctrine that Musk’s goal is to be 5-10 times faster than its competitors – to get a car off the production line in 5 seconds, while the fastest production speed of the auto industry in 2018 is about 30 seconds.
On that day, it must be another “infidelity” battle.
Walking in a car factory after work in the middle of the night
(at the request of the interviewee, the characters in the article are pseudonyms)