Car of the Future
Richard Folkson, Product Verification and Testing Manager, Ford of Europe
Lecture at the University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, 2nd November
Folkson concentrated on 3 “Mega-Trends” in the automotive environment as the
driving factors for the “Car of the Future”; zero emissions, zero fatalities
and freedom of consumer choice.
enabling technology was interpreted mainly as being “more electronics” in
vehicle, new systems predicted include x-by-wire (steer, brake etc.), Controller
Area Network (CAN) bus wiring, Electric Power Valve Train (EPVT) and speed
control (i.e. speed control via GPS to limit upper speed in certain geographic
areas). The increase in Electronic
Control Units (ECU’s) in vehicle was illustrated with the growth in the Ford
range, a Fiesta in 1999 having only 4 whereas in 2004 this model has 14,
similarly the Focus had 11 when first introduced and the latest revision (the
C-Max) currently has up to 41 ECU’s on board.
of CAN were given as simplifying the wiring, reducing overall cable length (and
hence weight) in the vehicle and reduced number of connectors.
Also it was claimed that CAN will improve reliability, reduce warranty (I
assume Prof. Folkson mean warranty claims) and potentially be an industry wide
system (hence further economies of scale across the industry).
features likely to become more popular are on-board distance sensors (radar,
currently used for Adaptive Cruise Control, ACC), lane alert sensors, driver
alertness sensors and adaptive lighting. Externally
controls could come from speed control via GPS and automatic accident location.
issues not necessarily directly influenced by the electronics were suggested as
more use of diesel engines (Prof. Folkson confessing his diesel allegiance),
spark-ignition (SI) engines approaching the efficiency of diesels (I assumed via
direct injection technologies although these were not explicitly mentioned),
fuel cell vehicles and hybrids. The
problems with diesels will remain the NOx emissions, likewise for SI engines the
CO2. Prof. Folkson was somewhat
dismissive of current hybrids, claiming that on a motorway his diesel efficiency
is better than that of the Toyota Prius. Other engine factors are what Prof. Folkson described as
On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) but really means exhaust gas sensing and analysis
on-board (to most readers of this I expect OBD to mean engine and electrical
system diagnostics via plug-in or remote test stations). The Ford hybrid vehicle costing $4M was shown in a slide,
however, the CO2 emissions from generating the necessary hydrogen to run this
via cracking oil to release the hydrogen or the building work to produce enough
wind-farms was mentioned as a possible reason this won’t be too popular in the
near future (the vehicle cost has been reduced to $250k for those interested in
buying one today).
Transport Systems (ITS) as a method of reducing emissions was considered.
The possibility of having congestion avoidance to reduce static traffic,
automated road tolling and Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) collected on a
Pay-As-You-Drive (PAYD) basis were mentioned.
Another new feature may be PAYD insurance rates depending on driving
patterns and geographic coverage, electronic vehicle ID for cradle-to-grave
tracking, in vehicle back-box recorders and more use of satellite navigation
(Sat-Nav) as enabling technology for the ITS infrastructure.
technology for vehicles is mainly targeting weight reductions, however, this
leads to what Prof. Folkson described as the weight dichotomy; lighter vehicles
are potentially less safe and there is a cost and convenience factor with some
materials. The increased use of
aluminium and magnesium is forecast, but useful plastics have problems meeting
legislation such as End of Live Vehicle (ELV) directive for recycling.
the second half of the lecture Prof. Folkson talked about what the vehicle
manufacturers are doing to address some of the “Mega-Trend” issues.
the engineering process to reduce time-to-market is an area that computer
simulation has helped significantly in recent years.
The example of the use of simulation for a Mondeo vehicle revision
reducing the cycle time from 36 to 24 months.
Simulation of vehicle stresses over road surfaces and body crumple under
crash-test were shown, the crash test in particular being very impressive with
the simulation and test results proving extremely close matches.
manufacturing vehicle makers are trying to be more flexible, this has entailed
use of common platforms, faster turnaround for new builds, customisation on the
line and rapid prototyping potentially moving to rapid manufacturing and missing
out the prototype stage.
is a significant business challenge for vehicle makers, more variety of vehicles
on common platforms, increased competition across each market segment and the
higher investment costs for a smaller customer base.
In mature markets (e.g. Europe) the growth over the last 15 or so years
has been low to almost no markets (depending in geographic region in Europe).
The growth in variations was illustrated with a look at a 1960’s Ford
Cortina and 2004 Focus (see table below). An
illustration of the competition and fragmentation was provided for the C-Car
segment (representing 40% of the European market) with the impact of compact
Multi-Purpose Vehicles (MPV’s), in-roads by low cost suppliers and the premium
brand vehicles down-sizing products for this market segment.
product development going forward is a complex issue for vehicle makers
including shared platforms (common across makers) and power train alliances
(e.g. Ford and Peugeot for diesel engines) for better sourcing efficiencies in a
fragmenting market. A feature of
future cars will also be global products (the Focus has been a best seller in
both Europe and the USA).
the presentation was at the University of Hertfordshire (there were over 100
students in attendance) Prof. Folkson also looked at what new engineers need for
the automotive industry. This
included mechanical and electrical and electronics education and a systems
conclusion Prof. Folkson said the Car of the Future would feature “chips”
with everything, more choice for the consumer, improved safety, reduced
environmental impact at a reduced cost.
Legislation: there was not thought to be any push towards true global
legislation for vehicles but Prof. Folkson believed Europe and the USA may move
although Ford has pulled out of F1 for 2005 they have committed to World Rally
for the next 4 years. Prof. Folkson
believed that while there were links between product developments and motorsport
and World Rally was a better test bed than F1.
only SI and Diesel engines: mainly due to their early developments and history
meaning these technologies have a head start in cost terms over anything new
Best and worst for the future: best was thought by Prof. Folkson being the USA signing up to the Kyoto accord and reducing emissions and improving economy of US vehicles, worse would be the status quo.
the results of the US election the following day suggest the worst is going to
lecture was extremely well attended, approximately 200 in the audience, and
Prof. Folkson was a fluent and articulate presenter.
There was, in my opinion, absolutely nothing really new or ground
breaking in the presentation. Prof.
Folkson did make the statement that this was his opinion of the Future Car and
not that of Ford and I truly hope so as otherwise the Ford Car of the Future is
the current top-range Jaguar already on the road (even the Citroen C5 has many
of the “future” features mentioned). The
mentioning of CAN for example was really superfluous, even mid-range cars, such
as the Focus, already feature CAN and surely the future is in MOST (Media
Oriented System Transport), Flexray or Bluetooth networks?
His relative dismissal of hybrids was also a disappointment, these are
again here today (the Toyota Prius is in second revision) and most vehicle
makers, with possible the exception of Ford, have hybrid programmes for
production vehicles already in place. Also
the question of why diesel and SI engines could have been countered with the
next generation potentially being electrical power train?
There was also no mention of the 42V Powernet as a technology enabler for
EPVT and most x-by-wire systems, or Integrated-Starter-Alternator (ISA)
technology, something I would have expected for near-future vehicles.
is possibly my closeness to the industry and regular attendance at IMechE
Automotive Division events that means I already have a view on what the
"Car of the Future" will contain, this talk was clearly aimed at the
layman and non-technical audience. The
most interesting aspect for myself was definitely the business challenges that
the vehicle makers face and I will be watching closely on how Ford tackle this.
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