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EV’S: IT’S NOT JUST THE MOTOR!

09/11/2017
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The automotive industry is no stranger to embracing technological innovation and set to undergo serious and widespread change in the coming years. The idea of what a car is, what it does, and how it is owned and used, looks set to alter radically. Alongside the well documented developments of the electric motor come many other alterations and modernisations.
Electric Vehicles
New Models of Ownership

As the concept of ‘lift sharing’ becomes more embedded in the public consciousness via companies such as Uber, a logical and natural next step is to move towards a mobility concept of ‘shared ownership’. High profile manufacturers such as Ford and Audi have conducted trial programmes aimed at allowing people to rent vehicles together, while new automotive brands are launching and aiming themselves at providing an entirely new model of car ownership.

One such brand, Lynk & Co, plan to dispense with the traditional method of selling vehicles to the public via dealerships entirely. Cars will sell directly to customers, meaning different methods of sale can be dictated by the company. Orders will be placed online, with vehicles delivered to houses in the same manner of many other ecommerce transactions. Alongside purchasing cars, customers will have the option to borrow one, with sharing also possible delivering a full mobility solution.

Apps will allow others, who have been previously approved, to be able to unlock the vehicle and use it, with inbuilt Wi-Fi used to locate the presence of suitable cars in any area. The notion of people simply taking a vehicle to their location, leaving it, and picking up another one for the journey home is new, but the process has been widely utilized in cities with bicycles already, and has experienced success as a business model. Shared use is best suited to densely populated areas, and could herald a new era for inner-city transportation. 

Electronic Control Unit

Sometimes simply referred to as a ‘car computer,’ the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) within a car works alongside the Transmission Control Unity (TCU) in order to operate the vehicle. Many different types of ECU are present within a car, which range from Brake Control Modules to Body Control Modules, and are constantly expanding in number. As things such as the control of doors, speed and seating are all done via the ECU, being able to manage the ever expanding amount of software and the subsequent complexity this involves within a vehicle is therefore increasingly becoming a large part of the development of cars.

A consortium known as AUTomotive Open System ARchitecture (AUTOSAR) describe themselves as a “partnership of vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and other companies from the electronics, semiconductor and software industry” and aim to try and reduce the growing complexity by developing and creating software for ECUs that is standardized and used across the industry. They hope that this will result in being able to satisfy both passenger and legal requirements in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Whether they will be successful remains to be seen, but their efforts alone highlight the growing importance of inbuilt technology to the future of cars.
 
Connected Cars

Constantly developing and adapting, Connected Cars continue to be important. As their price point lowers, so does their dominance, and it isn’t hard to envisage a future where they become industry standard. Using internet connectivity alongside other sensors, they are able to communicate with their environment and with their operators, as well as other vehicles. Smartphones can be used to perform functions such as temperature control, vehicle location and locking.

Perhaps the most important aspect of connectivity however is the ability of vehicles to communicate with each other, and the ramifications of this from a safety point of view. With cars, aware of the presence of others around them, things such as engine shut-downs to prevent collisions and blind-spot checks are all made possible. Information such as traffic accidents, congestion and route problems can also be communicated between vehicles, creating large databases and increasing journey efficiency as well as safety.

Automation

With newcomers to the industry such as Google and Tesla planning to release fully automated cars, as well as Uber looking to become involved, the concept of ‘driverless’ vehicles looks set to radically alter the automotive industry. While the move towards full automation has been relatively slow, developments have been occurring to pave its path. Parallel parking has been undertaken by vehicles, automatic stopping to avoid accidents, and even cruise control have been adapted successfully and in the mainstream already.

Perhaps the main stumbling block to automated cars could be the general hesitation of the public to accept and adapt to it. Suspicion of a move away from human driving is still prevalent and is regarded in many quarters as unsafe or something to be afraid of; views that the industry will have to take on board and overcome. The fact that there is a slow-drip of elements of driving that are being taken over by the vehicle itself will play a big part in this. 

If you’re building the cars of the future, you need the workforce of the future too. Speak to Fircroft today and learn how we can unleash the true potential of your workforce.

Tags: Automotive
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EV’S: IT’S NOT JUST THE MOTOR! - Time to read 5 min
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