Volkswagen, IBM, and the US software companies, i2 Technologies and Ariba, have signed a memorandum of understanding for a strategic partnership to build up a global digital marketplace.

"With this partnership we accelerate our current activities to optimize our business process," says Dr. Jens Neumann, the Volkswagen board member responsible for Group Strategy, Legal Matters, Treasury and Organization, describing the objectives of the new alliance.

An important aspect of the process improvement is the interactive transaction process with the suppliers. The new e-market will enable Volkswagen to easily order certain groups of products via the Internet. This includes manufacturing parts, tools and office equipment. With this powerful cooperation Volkswagen intends to increase the efficiency in its global supply chain and improve its process flow.

"In some cases this could lead to savings of up to 50% of process costs," explains Francisco Javier Garcia Sanz, VW board member for procurement, describing the advantages of the virtual marketplace.

Volkswagen will therefore not join the Internet alliance of the three American car manufacturers, formed a couple of weeks ago.

"With IBM, i2 and Ariba we will cooperate with the leading providers of e-market and supply chain management technologies," explains Neumann about the choice of Volkswagen's partners.

With the new virtual marketplace Volkswagen sees the chance of creating a broad European standard. Neumann: "Our e-market is open to everybody."