I was intrigued by the announcement by Hyundai that they plan to supply customised electric vehicles for shippers and ride-hailers. The concept is that Kia will build a standard electric platform and that customers will be given a wide range of options on things like frames, interior space, battery capacity.
This approach also ties in with the Sony electric vehicle vision. Both these approaches envision the electric drive and battery system as analogous to a sort of electric skateboard that you can build on top of.
The automotive manufacturers have long used drive platforms in this way but the nature of the electric drive system provides far more flexibility in design and customisation.
One of the implications of electric vehicles that are much simpler and can last much longer because of that simplicity is what longevity means to the average car buyer. If batteries can last 2 million miles and vehicles have a much longer life what does that mean for model cycle lengths and length of car ownership? If most of your vehicle is good for 20 years what does that mean for interiors? What does it mean for innovation? All of this may go away over the next 30 years if we can crack autonomous vehicle technology and car ownership goes away but meanwhile it is an interesting question. It opens up a whole possible world of modular systems and changes to the whole design process. Who knows we may end up with swappable vehicle bodies on tops of electric platform systems.
General Motors has taken a different platform approach with its BrightDrop Initiative:
The idea is to have an integrated electric platform that includes the vehicle with modular electric assistance systems for dropping off goods and packages, all tied together with software systems. I think that Shipping Systems as a Service for couriers in a world of increasing e-commerce has real promise. The idea of abstracting away all of the delivery systems so that couriers and delivery companies can concentrate on customers seems like a smart way for GM to go. It moves income away from margins on sales where large scale customers have significant pricing power to services.
It will be fascinating to se where all these platform systems evolve to.
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