Rethinking sustainable mobility in a new digital landscape

Rethinking sustainable mobility in a new digital landscape

Rethinking sustainable mobility in a new digital landscape

Yansong Chen, senior vice president of strategy and technology at Ricardo, an environmental, engineering and strategy consulting firm, says cutting-edge technologies are changing the way the industry thinks about its value proposition, at a level fundamental. “They are also changing the way the industry views its role in customer interaction.”

Beyond Net Zero: Data, Design and Digital Connections

The rise of electric vehicles (EVs) clearly shows how much change has swept through the automotive industry over the past decade. Global sales of electric passenger vehicles in 2022 topped 10 million for the first time ever. One in seven cars purchased globally in 2022 was an electric vehicle, compared to just one in 70 cars sold in 2017.

As the adoption of electric vehicles grows, advancements in technology and software have become increasingly essential to digitally connect customers and improve their experience. “Our ability to access data and apply it to design processes in real time is how we will change the industry, reduce costs and carbon output, personalize the driving experience and create new value for customers,” says Chen.

However, continuous software advancements require a deep understanding of how the technology can be applied to the automotive industry. Traditional manufacturers, in particular, must balance legacy operations with new tools and designs. “Advanced technology and AI are helping to make cars smarter, but they are also changing the fundamental nature of the car, both internally and externally,” according to Luc Julia, scientific director of French automaker Renault.

Therefore, it is essential to bridge the gap between the automotive industry and technology providers. For example, Ricardo has partnered with the Digital Twin Consortium, allowing it to collaborate with technology organizations such as Ansys, Dell, Lendlease and Microsoft. The open-membership consortium is an international ecosystem of industry, government and academic experts shaping the development of digital twins.

The rise of the digital twin

In recent years, digital twin technology has become an almost indispensable tool in automotive production, changing the way vehicles are made. Renault, for example, has modeled its physical assets as digital twins, and each factory has a replica in the virtual world. This is part of the automaker’s efforts to accelerate the digitization of its production lines and supply chain data across the company. “By optimizing data, we are able to use AI more effectively in the factory and increase the efficiency of our operations,” says Julia.

Renault factories are powered by supplier data, sales forecasts and quality information, powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, enabling the development of multiple predictive scenarios. For example, predictive robot maintenance can anticipate and address potential failures throughout the operational chain, at every part of the assembly line, before they occur.

In addition, Renault’s Refactory initiative, which is organized around four key business areas – Retrofit, Re-energy, Re-cycle and Re-start – uses digital twins to reduce its carbon footprint. It’s not just about electric cars, but also about the origin of batteries and the recycling of cars and materials,” says Julia.


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