1. Are you ready to upgrade your thinking?
8 min read

Are you ready to upgrade your thinking?

Future profit will come from upgradeable, electric autonomous vehicles.

The automotive, transportation and mobility industry is being turned on its head. As we move towards the ultimate goal of electric, connected, autonomous mobility, vehicles are becoming more reliable and, like software, easier to upgrade.

The changes on the horizon are nothing short of revolutionary. Instead of heading towards obsolescence from the moment they leave the dealership, the vehicles of the future will improve with age.

What’s more, because electric cars are easier to make than their combustion engine predecessors, the door has been opened to new innovators with access to the latest world-class design, engineering, simulation and manufacturing tools.

Traditional automotive enterprises are not just fighting to remain competitive – the fight is for their very survival. Nimble younger innovators from TESLA and AKKA technologies to Kreisel Electric, to name just three, have joined the game and the rules are changing astonishingly fast.

The traditional big players in the industry no longer even have the advantage of volume production – because selling by volume will no longer be a strategic advantage. It follows that without re-examining and then transforming their business strategies, systems and processes, success looks all but impossible.

Whether big or small, agility, flexibility and proactivity will be critical success factors for the companies that thrive over the next decade and beyond. The development of the next generation of vehicles will require advanced creative design, shared intelligence, a broad systems engineering approach and multi-domain, integrated collaboration.

Get timely insights from global leaders on the future of the automotive industry

3 minutes 51

Take electric vehicles, the smallest thing can have the biggest impact. For example, where’s the best place to put the antenna on a car if you want 5G connectivity? The answer is not just “where you’ll get the best signal”, but also how it might affect the rest of the vehicle: the aerodynamics, aesthetics, production cost, servicing and upgrading. Also, how the antenna itself will be affected by weather conditions, vibration and a host of other factors.

Antenna engineers need to compare antennas with similar functionality to find the optimal variant and need to decide where to place them. In order to achieve this, virtual prototyping and virtual tests are key to success. Simulation software helps to find the optimal solution for everyone concerned.

Matthias Tröscher
Senior Business Development Executive, Dassault Systèmes, SIMULIA

Needless to say, the ‘optimal solution’ is not the best solution for the antenna engineers alone, but the solution that works best in relation to the whole vehicle. In this industry today, nothing and nobody can act effectively in isolation. You, your suppliers and your customers can no longer work in silos – particularly in the creation of electric and/or autonomous vehicles. You need to consider both the organizational ecosystem and the vehicle as a whole.

Conversation with Matthias Tröscher, SIMULIA Business Development, on antenna positioning for optimal 5G vehicle connectivity:

4 minutes 9

Reinventing what we know – and do

What’s more, vehicle electrification, as David Holman points out, requires

“a complete redesign of the vehicle. All the components must be rethought. You need to think about the impact of vehicle dynamics: in efficiency, in cooling the battery package and in the drivetrain. You cannot think about isolated components the way you think in traditional vehicles. And things like managing temperature become critical. You know batteries are only efficient within a very narrow operative range, so thermal management becomes a key topic.”

David Holman
Vice President, Dassault Systèmes SIMULIA R&D

All this, Holman argues, poses a totally new problem: reinvention. The challenge the traditional OEMs face is to reinvent themselves. Of course, new start-ups beginning from a blank page will find it easier to tackle the design of electric drivetrains from scratch without the legacy hangover, thus putting them in a position of advantage. But, for a traditional OEM, driving such a major transformation is a “challenging task”.

Also, the challenges of today’s drivetrain development mean that new solutions need to be developed within previously unthinkable turnaround times – optimizing the drivetrain performance, mass, weight, quality, and reduce emissions, in weeks rather than months. In short, what took 100 years of development and refinement for the combustion engine, now needs to be done in 10 years for electric vehicles.

Conversation with David Holman, VP SIMULIA R&D, on the holistic approach to develop electric vehicles:

4 minutes 4

Taking the holistic approach

Although autonomous vehicle development poses different challenges, they demand a similarly holistic approach if speedy resolutions to design challenges are to be achieved. For example, how do you measure – and resolve – the effect of different types of particles in different road and weather conditions on the ADAS sensors that make autonomy possible? The answer is simulation.

Brad Duncan, Fluid Dynamics Director at Dassault Systèmes says that: “Car companies not only need predictive simulation capability for particles and film, but also the ability to understand how to improve the design.”

He continues: “That's where simulation is so essential. We make it possible for innovative designs to be discovered much more quickly, because you can track from the source of the particle, through the air, onto the surface, and sometimes off the surface again, and back onto it somewhere else.”

“You can simulate the environment in which the vehicle is driving… front wheel spray; the rain; the particles coming from vehicles in traffic, and that can be viewed simultaneously within the context of individual vehicle aerodynamics. You can predict all of these different performance factors to help quickly evaluate designs early in the testing process. It allows you to find innovative solutions that will achieve the best balance between targets.

Bradley Duncan
Fluid Dynamics Director, Dassault Systèmes


“Time is money,” he concludes. “So, if you can accelerate the design process, and verify that the design changes will meet all your performance targets, you can be faster to market, and reduce the overall cost of vehicle development.”

Kreisel Electric, a technology leader in the field of electric power solutions
Is a perfect illustration of a company adopting new platforms and technologies to stay agile.

Kreisel Electric faced a challenge: Could the legendary 1971 EVEX Porsche 910 combustion-powered car be transformed into an electrified supercar? Kreisel Electric needed to design and build a battery pack, cooling system, gearbox and powertrain that would fit in the car’s available space.

To achieve this, the company needed a solution that was robust yet flexible enough to enable the different disciplines involved to collaborate while keeping costs and schedules in check.

Positioning the gearbox and battery pack in the car’s very limited space could not have been done in time and with this quality without the applications of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

Helmut Kastler
Head of Mechanical & Electrical Engineering, Kreisel Electric

The platform allowed project stakeholders to enjoy real-time collaboration, centralized and secure access to geometric data, company know-how and project information thereby promoting creativity and innovation while reducing costs and overall development time.

“Whether I’m in the office or at a customer site, I can log onto the 3DEXPERIENCE platform and access all the information I need since everything is clearly structured and stored in one single place.”

René Dumfart
Mechanical Designer, Kreisel Electric

Jack Brown, PLM Support Specialist at Tesla, says that specialist digital technologies have eliminated barriers to collaboration, and teams throughout Tesla are realizing the benefit of getting involved in projects earlier.

Now Tesla can recognize an issue requiring change earlier in the development process to avoid extra cost or delay in development. “Manufacturing feedback is critical because we are creating a production car,” Brown explains. “To get all departments involved early and get their feedback on the initial releases is a lot better than getting that feedback at the end, when it becomes much more expensive to incorporate those changes.”

Clearly, the line between success and failure is as fine as the industry’s profit margins. It will be your strategic capabilities to integrate timely customer insights, optimize development and automate fulfillment that will ultimately determine your profitability as a business. How effectively you utilize 3D/virtual resources to accelerate those new innovations, to the right customers at the right time, is the key to survival in this new electric connected autonomous world.