The future powertrains and vehicles that were being researched in labs, captive test tracks and discussed in boardroom strategies in the 90s, are now a reality
The fabric of mobility solutions ranges across hybrids & e-vehicles with multiple energy storage options and vehicle strategies – solar-powered vehicles, hydrogen-powered fuel cell & non-fuel cell vehicles with and without battery storage, range-extenders, autonomous driving vehicles and so on.
Future mobility is a flotilla of technology, innovation coupled with digitalisation. It is about the ecosystem needs, digital transformation and interactive occupant philosophies, energy security, customer affordability, norms and regulations relevant to environment that can cover it all under sustainable mobility. Albeit many of the innovation and technology aspects related to powertrains, chassis, energy storage and energy delivery/charging have been researched and harnessed over time, opportunities in the newer facets of vehicle digital transformation, shared mobility and autonomous driving have a greater scope of development.
Digital transformation inside and outside the vehicle will be the highest growth and resource investment opportunity. The aspects in digitalisation are not restricted to interface between the driver and the gadgets inside the vehicle or the communication between the controllers or the basic telematics. The V2X interfaces and data transformation are important to the consumer, the manufacturers and the policymakers. The opportunity to harness data over IoT, real-time interactions and processing speeds are tipping points in the lifestyles of vehicle occupants. The occupants are looking for experiences, comfort and opportunity time to manage multiple activities and not be compelled to driving and looking for parking spots in busy streets.
INNOVATIONS FOR END USERS
Will major surfaces inside the vehicle have the capability to be transformed into interactive screens that can be used for communications, live telecasts, meetings and conferences across sites/ regions? If yes, how would these be safety compliant and ensure structural rigidity without adding weight and cost, and in turn not affect vehicle fuel economy. If not, the manufacturer will have to come up with innovations that make such provisions for the end-user. How to ensure that the vehicle can communicate in-country and be globally compatible with networks and regulatory protocols. To provide and implement data security check points for peace of mind and privacy of end users.
For public transportation and cargo shipment vehicles, the fleet owners and the corporations will require cost/km data that assists them to improve efficiency for sustainability. This could be useful, either after every trip or better yet at a continual paced duration at the end of the day. With connected tyres and data transfer capabilities, financial & service strategies can be structured in the business planning phases. This information can be used further by the regulators, insurers and analytics’ agencies as appropriate. The energy providers can use this information; for example, to set-up EV charging stations and for servicing of a variety of vehicles and so on.
Autonomous driving and shared mobility are seen as another step towards future mobility. This integrated with the digitalisation of powertrains can offer tremendous flexibility to any target customer base. There are enough pilots being operated in different parts of the world on autonomous driving. Though it can be argued that there were driverless vehicles for a long time at airports on elevated highways or in mines, the bigger opportunity today, is to have them on public roads in normal traffic and in inner cities, where routine lives of residents are unaffected.
The digital mobility platforms have a lot to offer provided they are harnessed efficiently. These are about an integrated ecosystem with stakeholders. They are the foreseeable phase of sustainable mobility for a flexible lifestyle and exciting driving experience.