The new normal of mobility will challenge the principles of chassis systems, with autonomous driving, shared mobility, and e-mobility co-existing along with conventional mobility platforms. With changing urbanisation trends, many moving to suburbs and preferring to work from home, lifestyles changing to driving shorter distances at lower speeds, experts are asking if it is necessary to revisit the assumptions of designing personal mobility chassis systems for two facets of applications – the first set being for non-highway low speed mobility segments, short distances & city centres, and the other set for the high speed, highway and long-distance driving consumers. This could result in distinctly dividing the manufacturing and OEM segments to work with different sets of assumptions.
Recently, there has also been a new development that has seen very different manufacturing companies from non-core mobility segments. These manufacturers may possibly conquer the new-age technology vehicle segments along with allied verticals and relevant chassis manufacturing due to the new-age bandwidths. The conventional mass markets could continue with the existing experienced OEMs that are experts in cost competitiveness.
ADAPTIVE CHASSIS SYSTEMS
With safety and efficient energy management being non-negotiable, the progressive model could have scalable real-time adaptive chassis systems that have plug-in modules suited for target markets and terrains that can be up-scaled or de-scaled depending on the application. Though it is intricate, this could become the newer modular and flexible manufacturing way of life for long term sustainability. These could be avenues to evaluate; for existing manufacturers to dabble in both these segments, while trying to leverage any form of synergy for economies of scale and/or chose to use their strengths in either segment of choice.
In other forms of mobility catering to urban, captive and low speed target customers, the additional cost of hardware and technology due to novelty is higher today and adapting a specially designed de-scaled chassis that fits such applications can offset the cost burden to consumers. It is also an advantage techno-socially to chassis and vehicle manufacturers, in terms of providing employment and flexibility to consumers, and the environment.
For the mature conventional mobility operating in a different ecosystem, the systems have been steady over decades, the costs have stabilised and lower compared to the new-age powertrains. Transversely inter-deploying chassis models to meet both the system design specifications will provide persuasive solutions. Of course, with an emphasis on low carbon footprint and better fuel efficiency, these sub-systems have naturally evolved to become lighter, structurally robust for safety & crash norms, embedded integrated controls with increased electronics and software that provide good flexibility and ride comfort.
Innovations have enhanced driving comfort through lower steering effort resulting in reduced driver fatigue, improved driving confidence due to better steering response and better manoeuvrability of vehicles that reduces turning radius. Better energy management of chassis sub-systems has contributed to better fuel efficiency. Adaptability of the chassis systems with body-in-white options has opened-up styling avenues, flexibility in use of powertrains, game changing manufacturability, overall carbon footprint reduction and better fuel efficiency of the vehicle.
Steering and suspension systems in the chassis can be designed and adapted similarly for both facets of application, again, as they are primary conduits of transferring road instabilities and loads to vehicle occupants. Over the years, there have been active sensing systems that magnetically or electronically control damping and have the capability to change ride-comfort real-time in an on-road or off-road use environment.
The measure of driving experience, ride comfort and safety, can be enhanced through prudent real-time adaptive chassis sub-systems that have plug and play modules suited for target markets, vehicle segments and terrains. These could be the game changing techniques for long term sustainability.