By T Murrali
On 12th August 111 years ago a ‘disruptive’ methodology called mass production and assembly operations changed the way a car was manufactured. The first Ford Model T car was built and assembled on that day. The question, “Is it time for another major disruption in automobile production?” has had been relevant for the global automotive industry almost every two or three decades during the last century. However, this question has been felt even more relevant since the beginning of this millennium.
Today the industry is evolving so fast that there is disruption in every vehicle segment– be it passenger vehicles or two-wheelers or commercial vehicles. And it is not only in vehicles but also in the way they are manufactured.
The recently-concluded 68th Frankfurt Motor Show had many disruptive technologies showcased by vehicle makers and suppliers from across the globe. Among the key new models displayed were Audi concept AI: TRAIL Quattro – touted to be as a study of an electrically driven off-roader of the future; Volkswagen’s ID. 3 – a compact electric car expected to lead the series of EVs that the company is planning to launch in the coming years. To be available in three different battery energy options the cars will have a range of 330km, 420 km and up to 550 km.
The Vision EQS concept limousine by Mercedes is its first design on a new electric platform which will lead to many other luxury EV production models. In addition, Honda’s EV concept, Hyundai’s EV concept, Porsche’s Taycan EV and BMW’s Vision M Next supercar stole the show due to their uniqueness in innovation. Though every exhibitor had different offerings the common thread was the disruptive technologies incorporated in the vehicles. There is a need to have a vision that can see disruption and make it commercially successful.
From the suppliers’ side, Continental demonstrated its EasyMile, the driverless shuttle. Called CUbE, the vehicle can generate a 360-degree image of its environment by combining data from different sensors and can even see through objects such as parked cars and detect the street corner behind it. Several other innovative technologies demonstrated by the company are described in the Cover Story section in the following pages.
ZF unveiled a long range PHEV. The ZF EVplus concept vehicle can travel more than 100 km solely on electrical power – under real-life conditions. The higher electrical range ensures local emission-free driving on routine routes while also taking away the range anxiety of the drivers, helping to dispel the hesitation to purchase electric vehicles. As a consequence, PHEV vehicles could rapidly ensure that more journeys are covered entirely in electric mode, reducing local CO2-emissions in road traffic. It eliminates nitrogen oxide emissions and produces substantially lower fine particulate concentrations. Corresponding driving strategies and control mechanisms like geo-fencing ensure that travel is purely electric in urban areas.
Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions and Bosch Healthcare Solutions presented Vivatar drive, a retrofit SOS call system, which is operated by a mobile app and a plug for a 12V cigarette lighter socket. By plugging the cable into the car’s 12 V socket and pairing it with the smartphone (with the downloaded) via Bluetooth, the Vivatar drive technology recognises the accident and automatically calls the right help to the right place via the Bosch emergency call assistant.
The AISIN Group exhibited its offerings in vehicle electrification including various EV Systems such as eAxle (electric drive module), electric pump and regeneration control brake. Besides, it also displayed its innovative aluminum battery frame, along with heat management systems and lightweight solution products to support electronic vehicle development. These kinds of solutions are the most sought after by the vehicle makers as their key objective for electric mobility is to make it light and efficient. Brose showed automated vehicle access, flexible interiors and thermal management for E-mobility.
Coming to other trailblazing events, there are several companies that seek strategic investments in business models relating to customer experience, mobility and digital lifestyle, as well as in future technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and virtual and augmented reality. On these lines, Porsche announced its investment in Israeli Startup TriEye to increase road visibility and safety. The startup’s Short-Wave-Infra-Red (SWIR) sensing technology enables vision in adverse weather and at night.
With the aim to steer innovation through collaboration, Tata Motors has announced the launch of Tata Motors AutoMobility Collaboration Network 2.0 (TACNet 2.0), a platform that will help develop a centre of AutoMobility innovation through partnerships for new technologies and/or business models. It will also allow Tata Motors to engage with startups and technology companies to easily connect with them, spark innovative solutions in automotive technologies and mobility ecosystem, and explore synergies.
See you next month with more Trailblazing Trends
By T Murrali