The future on wheels: There will be a radical change in automotive design as the shape and content of vehicles is impacted

Automotive design is transforming as it advances, with changes primarily driven by ACES – autonomous, connected, electric and shared vehicles. Design is driven by customer needs and powered by technology. Growing concern about climate change is accelerating this pace.

Automotive design and development cycles are long and change takes time. The great impact of the pandemic has been on the psychology of designers and consumers who reassess their values ​​and prioritize health, safety and cleanliness. In the short term we see the focus on air purifiers in vehicles, but in the future there will be a drastic change in design as the shape and content of vehicles will be affected by people whose life has been disrupted by this ongoing event.

Autonomous technology will allow hybrid designs that blur the lines between a mobility solution and a living space – like the Renault Symbioz concept. In a future where resources will become scarce and our environment threatened, owning a car that remains unused for a long time will be an issue that designers will have to address by incorporating multiple functions other than simple mobility – this has already been suggested in various concept cars that ‘they will use power generators, meeting spaces, part of your house as a living room, etc.

Connectivity has already become a need that drives consumers’ purchasing decisions. In the future, the in-car infotainment system will become a digital cockpit and the most important aspect of car design. UI / UX – user interface and user experience – the design should be part of an automotive designer’s toolbox. Currently, automotive designers are focusing on the shape of the exterior and interior of a vehicle. In the future, they will either need to hone their skills to gain knowledge of UI / UX design or work closely with such designers.

Electric vehicles are those with zero / less emissions than traditional internal combustion engine vehicles. A broader view would be designs that reduce the impact on the earth’s resources. This would include reusing materials, recycling plastic waste and potentially reducing vehicle purchases. All of this without compromising the client’s latent desire for status, speed or adventure. Green could be the new red. You can see concepts like the ZUV, that is, the zero-emission utility vehicle from Austrian design house EOOS, which focuses on a sustainable future. This one is made locally by 3D printing from plastic waste!

There are already business models that encourage the concept of reducing household vehicle ownership. Yulu has created Electric Cycles, the App, and the Ecosystem, all supported by the Internet of Things, through which you use the e-bike for local commutes or delivery without owning it.

One of the first drivers of the shared mobility space was the Zoom car, launched in 2013; this allows users to rent cars by the month, week, day or even hour and drive themselves. Thus, it is possible for a family to own only one car for urban use but to rent a car for the weekend or for a vacation when they need something more spacious or powerful.

Shared mobility took a hit during the pandemic, but will be the way of the future. The startup EV Arrival has designed a vehicle for Uber that offers better visibility for urban maneuvers in the city and better interior space for a shared space. The hybrid future might have designs made just for sharing or owning.

India’s scorecard is not good for any of these parameters. Many EV startups are working on the future of the PACES vehicle, which is good news. However, we are late and will be playing a catch-up game.

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