- ABOUT US _ Drive is an Automotive Design Consultancy building long term relationships with design-driven companies worldwide, designing products that enhance their brand's DNA and position in the market place.
Drive is often asked to provide business design advice for startup mobility vehicle projects. Many low volume vehicle manufacturers have benefited from our understanding of the challenges that businesses face in developing and establishing a successful vehicle in the market.
Niche vehicles have always provided opportunities for entrepreneurs to build successful businesses but now more than ever they are providing a solution to specific transportation problems. This is leading to opportunities for OEMs to use niche vehicles to expand their brand into new mobility markets, become leaders by redefining a market or exploiting new technologies.
Low volume vehicles provide unique challenges in the product offering, manufacturing constraints and the commercial demands. Drive have been involved in numerous projects and have built up experience of the various approaches to the business proposal, from designers wishing to produce their concept, technology led business opportunities and brand experience products. Many low volume manufacturers such as Hennessey, Apex Motors, Delta Motorsport, Zenos Cars, Caterham Cars and Lightning Car Company have benefited from Drive’s expertise at various stages during their projects.
Whilst the funding for niche vehicle projects is provided from varying sources depending on the circumstances, the necessary underlying business case has to be rigorously tested and proved just the same, before investing of valuable time, resources and money. Drive’s in depth experience can help build the background to the project, give crucial investor confidence in the participating parties and provide experience and guidance throughout project timeline.
Through the development and refinement of the design our experienced team maintain the initial design intent whilst answering the engineering and economic challenges posed by these unique projects.
Drive’s understanding of the difficulties facing niche vehicle manufacturers (NVMs) trying to establish a company or product make them ideal partners to be involved in the development of a robust product concept and commercial strategy, whilst helping identify design and manufacturing efficiencies through collaboration with strategic partners.
Not every venture can be the success that everyone is looking for but minimising the risk by being fully aware of the undertaking at the start, with suitable gateways mapped out so that owners and investors can make informed decisions before embarking on the next phase, help to increase the chances of a sustainable business.
Virtual reality is allowing design teams to develop concepts quicker and resolve issues earlier. Drive have a fantastic Virtual Reality car design studio set up that which we are all becoming accustomed to using in our day to day work.
So how have we facilitated the use of the VR set up within the studio? We are always finding new ways to use it, but within the realms of being a beneficial tool rather than being a slave to it. A good example is this Bugatti concept , that enables us to show off the benefits of using VR to our automotive clients.
Projects like this are an important to everyone at Drive, with our passion for automotive design and especially for anything that goes fast is in our DNA. With the initial concept penned everyone was unable to resist getting involved with something as extreme as this. The team worked together to design, resolve and refine the concept simultaneously combining our work flows through Photoshop, Alias and VR.
The use of VR is a great tool to check the design through the modelling development process and helps both modeller and designer. An instant tool at our finger tips that allowed us to critique and rapidly develop the concept, producing a better result in a quicker time frame. As a tool VR makes you aware of the digital model issues you normally only realise when you are standing in front of a full scale clay. I am a firm believer in the development of a physical model, and VR is a benefit to allow any studio to start physical modelling stage from a more advanced point, speeding up the process and saving time.
We use various systems from Autodesk VRED, Unreal Engine and Unity to create the Virual Reality experiences. We will be very pleased to discuss your requirements and support your adoption of the technology into your work flow.
Sometimes it is the simpler things in life that give the most enjoyment and lock down restrictions lead to this. With the studio on lock down and equipment available the next generation of Longmore car designers needed something to do so we set them a design, build and video project and here it is – Next generation car designers
So they recorded a project to design and build a ‘soapbox’ or a ‘bogie’ as I knew them when I grew up in Lochmaben, Scotland, using what could be found in the garage, resulting in the demolition of their old twin ‘Mountain buggy’ pram and restricted by the length of axles a reverse ‘Nissan Deltawing’ configuration emerged.
Then they decided to share the project ….
SAIC have an advanced design studio on prime Maryleborne real estate in the middle of London. The open plan arrangement with designers’ zones, review areas, chill out space and groovy chairs provides a creative environment with which to attract design talent to define the future SAIC Group products. When I started Drive and was shown impressive facilities of OEMs like Volvo or engineering firms like Magna, it made me wonder how a design consultancy like Drive can compete with the major automotive manufacturers and their studios. The answer of course is we don’t – design consultancies offer something different.
Major car companies carry out most of their design work themselves, with dedicated design departments capable of handling every aspect of the design process.
But few car companies do not use the services of external car design consultancies for some smaller projects or as a validation of their internal designs, whilst many smaller niche car companies use such consultancies to supplement their more limited in-house design facilities on larger design projects.
In most cases the reason we get shown around a company’s design facilities is because Drive is working with them or about to. They see that Drive has something to offer them and they want us to work with their teams to stimulate creativity and maximise the design output. Whether it be for market insights, a fresh design perspective or simply additional digital resource we are able to provide focussed and professional expertise.
As with the studio space, I question ‘how can we compete’ when recruiting creative talent, when automotive OEMs can offer so much in terms of employment, facilities and certainty of projects well into the future.
Again we don’t compete, what we have to offer is different.
We are an efficient studio that has a welcoming, creative and professional atmosphere. We work with numerous brands so it is unlikely that we will designing a similar face of a car or grill for long. The type of work is varied, and is more likely to be concept ideation than production detailing. The projects will cover a large spectrum with mobility solutions, aircraft interiors or maybe another supercar inspired Track-tor (see here) being as likely as the next production SUV.
A consultancy environment like Drive’s isn’t for everyone, but the constant change benefits our creative team keeping them fresh, interested and gaining a breadth of experiences that differentiates them from other designers. The very skill set that many design chiefs look for in their next hire, indeed two former Drive employees will be able relax at the new SAIC coffee bar.
It is the diverse experiences that attracts our clients and benefits their projects as they get new perspectives, fresh ideas and insight from our broad knowledge gained across different industries and clients.
So if you are looking for some creative input for your next project or if a consultancy environment is somewhere you would like to work, come round for a chat. We don’t have a coffee bar but we do have a fantastic café around the corner.
(SAIC Design Advanced London top image – photos source SAIC)
Over the last 25 years, visualisation teams have relied heavily on a lot of computing power to render animations, and Drive’s experience has developed with the technology and we now create realtime animations for automotive marketing.
Not so long ago an animation of a minute or so, might take days to output on dozens of computers packed out in air conditioned server rooms. Once the rendering is done, a whole load of post production has to be done afterwards to fine tune and colour grade too. Hold on a minute, not quite right? Need a last minute change? The product has been updated? Back to the farm it goes for another couple of days.
But the new technology gives us the opportunity to refine the output and deliver a higher quality animation beacuase we are able to make adjustments closer to the cut off deadline.
In my previous blog explaining the creation of the scene, here , I showcased a few images I put together in Unreal of my favourite Mclaren, the 720s. Following on from this, I’ve now produced an animation with the camera pans, edit and tonal adjustments all refined in Unreal and outputted in near real time.
Beyond that, the scene is ready for interaction for a configurator or Virtual Reality?
CG images can be used to help promote a car manufacturer’s products, and these two have been screened grabbed from the above animation.
Every shot created is different and every car has certain angles that show it off at its best, Drive’s team of creative visualisers and automotive designers combine to create and ensure great results.