Automotive software and data engineering in the driver’s seat of car development and manufacturing

Never in its 100+ year history has the car industry had to handle as much change as right now. Electrification may seem the most fundamental change in the industry yet. But that paradigm shift looks rather modest compared to the overall impact of digitalisation.
The electric drivetrain is sending the combustion engine into retirement. If a car were a human being, you could compare it with a heart transplant. But the patient is having a brain replacement as well, together with a new nervous system. And on top of everything, loads of extra sensory organs are being added.

Digitalization lies at the root of all this. Software and data are radically changing the modern car, extending its capabilities, and enabling it to interact with its surroundings in radically new ways. It is morphing into a living room on wheels, including an entertainment and communication center, and becoming a node in the hyperconnected Smart City infrastructure of the future.

Cars are changing, so are customers

Enabled by digital technology, the car is taking on new roles in people’s lives. However, at the same time people themselves are changing also, and consequently their expectations of what a modern car should offer.

Why is that? Well, having become accustomed to interacting with computers, smartphones and digital gadgets of all sorts, consumers expect the speed of innovation in the automotive industry to be similar to the speed of innovation in the digital industry.

And they expect a modern car to deliver a user experience like modern consumer electronics, providing a wealth of options regarding personalization, seamlessly integrating services such as films, games, and music, new features, and much more. Not least, users expect to do business with car manufacturers as they do business in the world of online services, so, new digital economy business models are redefining car ownership as well.

Imagining the future

Where will all this end? Who knows, but if you indulge in the futuristic concepts of premium automakers, the car will soon look like a trendy loft on wheels, with wood and soft fabrics, a cosy extension of home, all about leisure and comfort. Gauges and switches are gone, the steering wheel nowhere to be seen. Screens are replaced by interactive projections, for you to plot in a destination, order lunch at your favourite restaurant, and play the music of your choice.

Products, development, production – all digital

Digitalization is increasingly in the driver’s seat on all levels in the car industry. Not only are the industry’s products themselves – as mentioned – becoming increasingly software and data driven. At the same time, development of new features and models is being accelerated with digital tools and processes. Manufacturing is heading in the same direction. In short, never in its 100+ year history has the car industry had to handle as much change as right now. As Smart Industry is arriving at the car industry’s doorstep, car development is embracing digital concepts.

Physical testing and prototyping are, typically, time-consuming, expensive, and difficult to scale. The answer is digital acceleration, for instance a stronger focus on model-based engineering and virtualization, both of which are important Smart Industry features. It is estimated that over 50% of car prototyping activities may be virtualized by 2025, in the quest to shrink development costs and improve time to market.
Not only the development of new car models, but also car manufacturing is being heavily digitalized. Concepts from the Smart Industry toolbox are improving agility, quality, and efficiency. For instance, modeling and simulation of new production lines save time and cost, and production equipment is being enhanced with sensors sending real-time data to a central system overseeing production and performing analytics. To push the boundaries of manufacturing, new technologies within robotics, augmented reality, and 3D printing are being tested and implemented as well. favourite restaurant, and play the music of your choice.

Looking for experienced partners

Software and data engineering is the new centerpiece of car development and manufacturing. Consequently, manufacturers are on the lookout for partners able to bridge mechanics, embedded systems, connectivity, backend, and frontend in a holistic approach to product digitalization. Akkodis is such a partner. Building on decades of automotive experience, we are providing the managed services needed to assist the automotive industry in developing the car of now and for the future, connected, autonomous, shared, and electric.
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