Automotive industry is witnessing a healthy growth post COVID era. However, to sustain the growth trajectory and meet various challenges industry is going through a transformational change. These transformations are need of an hour to address the challenges triggered due to global economic headwinds, passenger demands, stringent regulations (BS6, 6 airbags, CAFÉ, RDE etc.) & new vehicle segments itself like EV, HEVs
OEMs are constantly need to be innovative and develop new products which can satisfy all the requirements yet affordable to Indian consumers. Further, these requirements lead to a more complex products with multiple systems like mechanical, electrical, electronics, software interacting with each other. In order to design such complex products, industry leaders need to stay abreast of the latest trends in auto-engineering. These include the following:
1. Electrification opens new markets and a greener future
Electrification is a top auto engineering trend worldwide, and it can position auto manufacturers as highly competitive, global players. EV adoption in India increased sharply in 2022, with sales rising 4X from the previous year. Electric vehicles will completely revolutionize the automotive industry landscape where traditional approaches of design and development may need to reinvent. EV vehicle development is a journey and demands strategic changes in vehicle architecture, design validations processes (DVPs), new powertrain and drivetrain. Lot of standardization has been happening and various processes and testing protocols are getting established towards bringing safe and best quality products right at first time. EVs will push the envelope of electronics & software in vehicle. Increased electronics and electrical components will force auto OEMs to look at model based system engineering approach (MBSE) to manage the huge number of requirements and its impact on various function. Also, the regulations related to battery safety, EMI/EMC will add further complexity to overall development.
Therefore, automotive engineers want new and reliable ways to innovate, which is where digital twin of design, development and manufacturing would play a crucial role
2. Standardization through MBSE reduces complexity at scale
As mentioned in point 1, modern vehicles are not just a mechanical system. It involves many electronics and electrical systems along with software to control each and every function of the vehicle. This would further increase with more and more modernization and EVs coming to market. For example, few years back cars used to have very few ECUs but now close to 100 ECUs are present in modern cars along with other electronics such as antenna, sensors etc. Hence, it is very evident that such a complex system needs to satisfy large number of requirements to ensure proper function of vehicle and its safety.
Model-based system engineering, or MBSE, is an important trend in the auto-engineering sector as it helps simplify even the most complicated product designs. Given that vehicles are fast growing in complexity, MBSE is more important than ever before. In contrast to document-centric engineering, it puts models at the center of auto engineering, which is now highly feasible, thanks to digital modeling environments.
Indeed, a digital approach to system engineering can dramatically reduce the complexities of product components by introducing a standard language — a “system of systems,” as it were. This modeling language let’s all project stakeholders share information and benefit from a single source of truth.
3. Passenger safety is a top priority with advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS)
ADAS has been gaining a popularity in Indian market due to its huge importance in insuring safety of passengers. India has seen many vehicles launched with ADAS feature in recent past and trend will further grow in near future. I must say, days are not too far when ADAS will be made mandatory like airbags. ADAS is a complex system involving many sensors, cameras, RADAR & LIDAR working in an integrated manner to respond faster to any given complex scenario. Essential ADAS applications include pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, emergency braking, blind spot detection becoming increasingly commonplace in passenger vehicles. Customers often view ADAS as a product differentiator, which is reshaping the auto engineering process.
The rise of simulations and virtual validations has further intensified this trend. Simulations allow close collaborations between stakeholders and the integration of scene, scenario, vehicle, software and control feature as well as sensors in high fidelity virtual world to help build safe, reliable ADAS.
4. Lightweight engineering is lighter on the pockets, and on the environment
The biggest challenge of all auto OEMs is to reduce the weight but still achieve all the performance KPIs. The government regulations related to material compliance further increase the need to understand the various materials in use and its composition. Today, OEMs uses multiple strategies for lightweight initiatives like using alternate materials, optimization, manufacturing techniques & joining materials and methods.
Lightweight design has potential to reduce the material, reduce manufacturing cost and will lead to better carbon footprint, improve the mileage or range in case EV. Several emerging techniques make lightweight engineering simpler for auto engineers. This includes cognitive augmented design, which is a generative design process to create lightweight shapes. Physics based simulation techniques play a crucial role to achieve the lightweight targets yet maintain the durability, NVH & crashworthiness of products through multidisciplinary optimization at concept stage. Manufacturing is a key aspect and Additive Manufacturing techniques are being explored for structural parts.
5. Digital tools revolutionize the product development process
Finally, digital tools are at the heart of the ongoing revolution in auto engineering. Today, OEMs are looking at a collaborative way of working for seamless connectivity between Design to simulation to manufacturing. This will help not only to develop the product at faster rate but also to innovate to new products with best quality. Virtual twins are the reality where industry is not only looking at digital replica but also a physics based real life behavior where informed decisions can be made. AI based algorithms are getting much more applicable and accessible by industry in various domains. Various ML based techniques are being explored for running the CAE simulations faster compare to the traditional approach. Cloud computing and cloud usage has been growing at faster rate for ease of using various digital solutions. Therefore, digital tools and digitalization is being embraced by auto Industry at each and every domain of its operation where customer is at the center of this change.
As these five trends disrupt the automotive sector, technology acts as a compass for what the future will look like. We have seen a massive shift in how designers, engineers, and fabricators operate and bring highly optimized vehicles to the market. Industry professionals will also have to master a new set of skills, now made democratic and easily accessible through cloud-based digital tools, and embrace the transformation.