Siemens PLM wins the CAD business at Chrysler

27 July 2010: Within a day of seeing the official announcement that Chrysler will use Siemens NX as its new digital development software, I had the opportunity to interview and speak with several Siemens PLM executives to find out more about this big win.

First some background. Currently a Dassault Systemes (DS) CATIA customer, Chrysler is bailing out of CATIA, changing it out for Siemens NX software. Chrysler’s acquisition of American Motors in 1987 netted Chrysler the first North American automotive user of CATIA. Chrysler rapidly adopted CATIA as its worldwide design system. The company was so enthusiastic about CATIA that they insisted all their primary suppliers use the same software to eliminate data transfer issues.

So what happened?

As Siemens PLM Software executive David Taylor, Sr. Director of Automotive and Machining Marketing explained, Chrysler, apparently dissatisfied with DS PLM offerings, began using Teamcenter software in 2008. The company’s failed merger with Daimler Benz, their subsequent bankruptcy, and their partnership with Italy’s Fiat further pushed the company to consider Siemens PLM software. It turns out that Fiat uses NX and Teamcenter.

Taylor further explained that in an exhaustive benchmark, Chrysler found Teamcenter to be more efficient, particularly it and NX’s role based approach. Other factors included synchronous technology, Teamcenter’s proven scalability, and its ability to serve as the PLM backbone for competitive CAD systems almost as well as it serves NX.

When asked whether he could provide some metrics on the win such as numbers of potential seats or dollars involved, Taylor refused, as did Kartsen Newbury, head of the Solid Edge business unit, in a recent interview.

Chrysler plans to implement the software for new projects. As stated in the press release, “Chrysler Group will initially use Siemens’ NX™ software engineering tool for new collaborative Chrysler-Fiat vehicle and powertrain development programs beginning with the Fiat 500, Fiat 500EV, the 1.4-liter Fully Integrated Robotized Engine (FIRE), and the new Chrysler Group C segment vehicle.” That means that CATIA will be around Chrysler for a very long time and no doubt continue to compete for Chrysler business in the future.

Asked about where Siemens stands in the Auto industry, Taylor cited its major presence in GM, Ford, VW, Nissan, Mazda, Daimler Benz, and of course – Fiat.

You can read the press releases at Siemens PLM Software and Chrysler.

A conversation with Karsten Newbury, head of the Siemens Velocity business unit

My interest in Siemens’ Solid Edge business was recently re-awakened when I finally heard that Karsten Newbury was appointed to lead the Solid Edge business. His actual title is senior vice president and general manager for Siemens PLM Software’s Velocity Series product suite. Partially this occurred when I heard that Bruce Boes had departed the company to head up marketing at Vistagy (

Karsten Newbury

Some of you may recall that I wrote several papers when Solid edge synchronous technology was first released in 2008. Back then it was billed as the greatest thing since sliced CAD bread. Finally users could just design, change existing designs easily, and import other CAD system data easily. Yet, in the two years since, it seems to have made little dent in the marketplace. Sure, some Solid Edge competitors sat up and took notice, even going so far as to add such capabilities to their software, or at least their software plans. Autodesk announced Fusion Technology and SolidWorks promised to expand direct modeling within the history tree.

Newbury, a long time Siemens executive, led the integration of the UGS acquisition into Siemens. Aha, I thought, at last the company seems to be paying attention to this CAD modeling gem. I asked for and was granted a telephone interview with Newbury, just yesterday. Below are the nuggets from this interview.

Ray: You have been head of Velocity marketing for some six months now, what are you doing differently than before?

Karsten: When heading up the integration into Siemens we identified certain technologies that could be more profitable. Solid Edge, with synchronous technology (ST) stood out. The establishment of the Velocity business unit was the first step to gain greater visibility and funding with Siemens PLM. I have the global responsibility for its success. I am reviewing all aspects of the business and the opportunities. There are more focused resources now along with more investment.

Ray: can you give me some metrics on how much the resource has increased?

Karsten: I cannot give you any numbers, but we have seen high double-digit license revenue growth in the last year. We have invested several million dollars in the business since the beginning of last year. I cannot share with you any details on the actual dollar amount of the revenue increase or manpower increase.

Ray: This leaves me a little cold without having details on the actual investment or manpower.

Karsten: You will just have to wait and see what the impact in the market is. The business unit is profitable and is expected to continue to be so. We will plow all the profits back into the business.

Ray: Have there been any recent management or organizational changes within your business unit that you feel are substantive?

Karsten: As a newcomer I have been examining our structure and will soon add a new person to head up the marketing function. In the three major worldwide geographic zones we have put in place new sales leaders.

Ray: What are your plans to gain market share in the face of intense competition from Autodesk and SolidWorks?

Karsten: We are focusing more on providing local support and providing more sales leadership to VARs worldwide. We have increased our channel percentage and will drive more into this direction; currently more than 90 percent of our revenue comes from channel partners. We plan to leverage ST’s real productivity gains and have users tell others about the benefits.

Ray: Do you envision any dramatic changes in the product and can you discuss the future of the product.

Karsten: This will have to wait for a more detailed session. ST3 is due out soon and incorporates about 2000 user enhancement requests. While Velocity is our brand we also want to make sure that the individual products are exposed more. The supporting Velocity products remain very strong and competitive. (Femap, Teamcenter Express and CAM Express)

Ray: Your competition has been taking potshots at ST. How do you counteract that?

Karsten: We do not worry about what the competitors say. We think users are looking for alternatives in their design approach. We want to drive real productivity gains for users and make their job easier. With ST3, due out soon, we expand these benefits even further. Solid Edge ST represents a real advantage over the competitive offerings. Users are talking about shrinking their design times from weeks to days.

Ray: Do you think Autodesk Fusion Technology is a serious threat to ST?

Karsten: Fusion technology seems to have acknowledged direct modeling benefits. We think we have a distinct time advantage over our competitors.

SolidWorks gets unfairly blasted for cloud plans

Lately when speaking with SW competitors and users we get the impression that SolidWorks’ foray into cloud computing was a big negative.

This differs greatly from what I thought I heard at SolidWorks World 2010. What was said was that the cloud represents a perfect opportunity for product collaboration, not a change in where the application runs – at least not yet. BUT, for long running and complex calculations cloud computing could help. These should arrive early.

SolidWorks points to ENOVIA V6 for cloud support. BTW, ENOVIA V6 is also a possible upgrade path for those who invested in SmarTeam. Users with existing SmarTeam installations should definitely look at all the alternatives, including open source.

I have called SolidWorks asking them to clarify their current cloudy cloud position and will report back as soon as they respond.