The key to growth

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How do you communicate the theme of growth? That was personified by what the OEMs showed at Geneva in March. The first was by expanding their lineup, whether that was premium or volume OEMs.

The second was about making vehicles more relevant to consumers. Connectivity was not a big theme at the show, but when you look at the vehicles, you can see that theme really resonate. Considering all the unique business models that are coming out about car sharing, which is about people giving up cars, there was a sound message about how they can bring back consumers into the vehicles but still extract the kind of business models that come from car sharing.

The third important theme from Geneva was the Green theme. It was not exemplified by electric vehicles, but you can see OEMs really trying to tackle the

CO2 issues. One of the common themes I saw was about how some OEMs were trying to bring down the 70g/km CO2 figure to 37g/km. This was through highly efficient diesel solutions after ‘Dieselgate’ and plug-in hybrids.

For me these were the three macro themes, if you look at it as a cluster. Where these three themes converge is the way I think the industry is moving forward.

If you look at the three unique developments happening in the automotive industry – autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles and connected vehicles, we have one unique theme. They will be brought together in a very innovative platform and the core principal behind that platform will be a highly communicative electronic architecture. The 48-volt micro-hybrid fits into that equation. If you look at these three; autonomous, electric and connected you need a solid robust power network configuration and 48v brings that into the situation.

Not all OEMs are going in that direction, some are still sceptical about it. But if you have a premium brand and a volume brand like Audi and Volkswagen hedging their bets on it, I think it’s just a matter of time before competitors start reacting to this.

Sometimes the industry sees these things as individual developments, but I see these as individual bubbles on a horizontal line that will converge. The basis for autonomous, electric and connected is a sound power net configuration. If you see that as a pyramid with the base as security, I think this structure would enable that as well. Then maybe we could talk about who owns the data? Where’s the data going to? Will it be the OEM, or will it be other disrupters that own it?

Volkswagen has announced a unique electric vehicle architecture, the MEB platform. Mercedes has developed one too, even though they haven’t announced it.

There are rumours that they will have a dedicated EVA platform – electric vehicle architecture.

I see this as the way forward and it’s important that other competitors see this and react, otherwise they will be left behind by this huge wave that is coming.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 14 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. Natalie works across the magazine portfolio and updates the company websites with daily news, interviews and road test content.

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