Getting The Foundations Right: Flexible Platforms Are Key For Auto Players To Chart Growth

Amidst these changing patterns, safety has gained paramount emphasis, alongside a preference towards alternate fuels, connected vehicles, and transformative driving experiences

The global automotive industry is currently at the cusp of a momentous transformation towards sustainable, intelligent, safe, and efficient mobility. Even customer expectations have undergone a paradigm shift, with buyers now looking at their vehicles as an essential element of their lifestyle. Amidst these changing patterns, safety has gained paramount emphasis, alongside a preference towards alternate fuels, connected vehicles, and transformative driving experiences.

To make the best of these growth vectors, OEMs are increasingly emphasizing on coming up with innovative yet cost-effective ways of blending what the consumer wants with the value proposition they’ve always offered across their line-up. Against this backdrop, exerting focus on building flexible modular platforms for vehicles, that can effectively transpose its structural foundations with the highest safety rating onto newer models – while being in line with purchase trends, can reap promising results.

Putting flexibility and safety at the core of engineering

Put simply, vehicle platforms refer to the basic skeletal structure of a vehicle, comprising aspects fundamental to the engineering of a car, such as a chassis, drivetrain, steering, suspension, and recently electrical architectures, central compute, and zonal controllers. When it’s possible to share the platform's design across models, it becomes “modular” — capable of being customized basis various use-case scenarios. This can help automakers save considerable time and money when creating new models, and eliminates the need to build vehicle underpinnings from scratch every time. It also enables them to consistently maintain safety standards across their range, as the use of a shared platform means each of its fundamental features is weaved into every new vehicle built on it. The replication of a tried-and-tested safety paradigm provides a convenient way to secure cars.

One key element in the platform that improves structural safety is the increased use of High Strength Steel (HSS) and Ultra High Strength Steel (UHSS). This contributes to saving weight, ultimately giving allied benefits like improved fuel efficiency.

As structural safety in cars becomes hygiene, the focus is shifting to more ‘Active Safety’ elements like Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) and ‘Post Crash Safety’ interventions like E-Calls. These are also enabled by platform elements like the electrical architecture in a vehicle.

Given emerging customer needs and the desire for fresher, modern designs, modular platforms can help OEMs develop lightweight, agile, and youthful vehicles with ease. It can help spread out overhead costs by allowing automakers to build basic parts in greater volumes and reduce the overall development cycle of products by optimising functioning. More importantly, it encourages OEMs to experiment with varying body styles and designs while allowing them to provide multiple drivetrain options and best-in-class safety – in tandem with evolving customer needs.

Architectures like central compute and zonal controllers allow OEMs to keep upgrading functionalities or experiences in the car much beyond those available at the time of purchase.

The benefits of modularity

Since adopting a flexible platform strategy helps optimise costs and expedites smoothen functioning within organisations, it can help maximise sales and volumes, initiating a mutually beneficial cycle of growth and revenue for OEMs and the economy. Leading auto players in India have already presented their own indigenously built modular platforms — a step that will arguably play a role in helping promote a culture of self-sustenance in the industry, in line with the Indian government’s broader vision towards an “Aatmanirbhar Bharat”.

In the long run, our endeavour must not only be to incorporate innovation, technology, and alternate fuels in our pursuit for the future of mobility but also work towards building strong foundational structures to help support and optimise our functioning. We must strive to revolutionise our functioning from our core — embedding flexibility in the foundational stage of vehicle building, powering the Indian automotive sector to scale new heights.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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