- 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.
The race to produce the first production autonomous supercar is well and truely on, as many doomsayers mourn the passing of true driving – missed gearshifts and terrible lines around corners – Supercar manufacturers and their highly specialised engineers are more excited than ever. Why? ….
…. because they will at last see their cars perform at the maximum. Currently they resign themselves to the fact that the people who buy these ultimate performance vehicles are unable to exploit the full potential of the car.
Far from autonomous cars reducing us all to the lowest common denominator commuter speeds, the real benefit is for ‘B’ road experiences like never before.
With autonomous control, owners will choose their preferred setting, not suspension stiffness but style of driving, clicking the dial to their driver of choice, from Alonso all the way to the Max …… Verstappen.
Moving to autonomy has relieved the need for a steering wheel, and this reduction in production costs for right and left hand drive, has allowed other manufacturers to contemplate entering the supercar market, and niche brands to compete on more even terms. With steering wheels, pedals and gear shifts now being additional cost options for those who wish to pretend to be driving, the commercial benefits are clear.
So with autonomous supercars using all the latest sophisticated positioning and sensor technology, the passenger phrase “Slow down, you don’t know what’s around the corner” will at last be erased from the English language.
New Design magazine editor, Alistair Welch, visited automotive design company drive to write a piece for their consultancy feature in the automotive design edition.
The article records his conversation with drive directors Chris Longmore and Mark Pritchard and looks at some recent milestone projects in the company’s 20 year history and thoughts on both the challenges and opportunities that electrified power trains and autonomous systems are presenting automotive designers and companies.
Read the article here drive – Automotive Design Company – New Design Magazine
Alistair Welch @alinewdesign
LinkedIn has become an incredible database for automotive design personnel and a must for resourcing and recruitment professionals, but it is its capability to engage experts in discussion that could be the most valuable aspect for our industry as the LinkedIn automotive designer discussions show.
In the beginning as interest groups were set up, a wide range of topics were posted and discussed, with some real insight to industry practice ….. apart from automotive design, where it appeared that car designers were neither interested in nor engaging with discussions.
Indeed there was so little informative dialog other than how to use Photoshop, that Patrick Le Quément was driven by despair to start one of the more interesting topics
‘Why is it that there does not seem to be any debate on “Car Designers”, all I see is how to improve your rendering techniques?
Do we, automotive designers, have no other interest but drawing skill ?’
But now there appears to be that a change in topics that has taken place, – student portfolios are less, ‘we are looking for …’ have gone elsewhere, and new brush textures have been erased.
There is now maturity to the automotive design discussions and topics, ranging from circular design economy, obstacles to autonomous car adoption and of course the longer term effects of COVID / lockdowns on cars and working practices. The contributors are varied bringing their knowledge from all aspects of automotive design, and exchanging views with meaningful insight.
So now there are discussions worthy of the experience and knowledge that our industry experts have, lets embrace it and engage.
We actively look for opportunities for design collaboration with other consultancies, and on this occasion we teamed up with The Division, a leading product design company run by David Tonge, to undertake a design research study for a major Japanese company. We combined our particular areas of expertise and David’s in-depth understanding of Japan, to provide a comprehensive analysis.
Our study and outputs proved to be very thought provoking and challenged the client design teams to rethink their approach to the interaction between drivers and passengers, and their vehicle.
This way of working, combining expertise from different disciplines, is a rewarding experience, and getting the chance to work with teams like The Division extremely enjoyable.
THE INTERNET OF THINGS
The Internet of Things – electronic devices communicating to each other via the internet mean that we are able to go seamlessly from one area of our lives to the next. Leave the house and the heating lowers, music system turns off, but the same song is playing on your smart phone. On entering your car the music switches to the car sound system, social accounts are accessed and made available, eradicating the need to refer to mobile devices, the accessibility of these being limited to suitable times for safety reasons, and emergency alerts passed on at an appropriate time.
TECHNOLOGY IN CAR INTERIORS
The advancement of technology in the consumer market is incredibly quick, and rapid product cycles allow for these updates to be incorporated swiftly into new and updated products such as mobile phones. In the automotive industry one of the largest components, and therefore one with the longest lead times, is the dashboard and instrument panel, and this means that the technology is evolving quicker than is always possible to incorporate in the latest car. This combined with the longer life cycle of a car than say a mobile device means that the ability of car manufacturers to keep a pace with developments is difficult.
Therefore automotive companies are obviously looking at ways to incorporate these products, such as tablets, into their interiors in order to use the latest technology releases.
What is clear is devices are designed for their intended environment and use, and when they are substituted into other environments like a car interior, at the very least their effectiveness is reduced, through to being totally impractical or downright dangerous. Also this narrow approach where it seems all that needs to happen is to create a device carrier in the centre console, is missing opportunities to make the technology work to improve the experience of the car driver.
SCALING and FILTERING INTERFACE
The single physical control is to filter information, and increase or decrease the amount information the driver requires. The touch screen buttons enlarge due to frequency of use and move closer to the driver thus tailoring the switch layout to the individual’s needs.
How the relevant information is displayed from display area to heads up display, depends on the relevance of the data to driver or passenger.
All rights reserved Drive Inc. Ltd & The Division UK Ltd www.the-division.com
Drive were approached by Zenos Cars because of their experience of designing for a startup car company. Zenos Cars’ business plan involved the design and build of a range of cars. The E10 concept marked the culmination of an intense design and development period. Drive and Zenos worked hand-in-hand to lay down the foundation for a “lightweight, affordable, fun to drive” car, that fitted a new range of thrilling and accessible sports cars.
The new startup company founders Ansar Ali and Mark Edwards, explained their unique market proposition with a few key words that would define their brand. Drive had to create a design language that would embody all of their aspirations, for a completely new British sports car brand. The E10 would be a mid-engined, carbon fibre tubbed car priced at less than £25,000.
“Drive’s strength was their listening, understanding and articulating the market and our type of customer needs – the way they interrogated, challenged and interpreted them were in alignment with how we saw it.” Ansar Ali
A challenges during the initial design process was achieving the delicate balance between a friendly, approachable look fitting the brand values, with a thrilling, lightweight track day car. With affordability in mind, Drive wanted to highlight the innovation of the carbon composite material and reflect the intelligence of the styling. The break up of panels, wings and tub allowing ease of production and lower repair costs compared to the single clam mouldings used on competitor products. Drive’s designers, working closely with engineers and composite manufacturers Bright Lite Structures, developed the final break down of parts and assemblies.
The close relationship between Drive and Zenos, and the openness of the management team were key to ensure that the design and business needs aligned at every stage of he project.
The public’s response to the car’s design was measured by the 40 deposits taken from customers before they had even seen it run. This justification of the product, only raised the pressure to deliver on their promise to have the production model ready for January 2015. Drive and Zenos launched into a rapid production development phase sensitive to the fact that the car’s appearance couldn’t alter significantly, but taking the opportunity to tune the car’s character and balance.
This phase involved working with suppliers on feasibility whilst ensuring manufacturing costs were kept on target keeping to the business plan and budget. The secret of the E10’s affordability relative to its performance, is off-the-shelf Ford components engine, gearbox, and brakes. The innovative composite tub made from recycled carbon fibre that offers 70 per cent of the lightness and stiffness of pure carbon-fibre for a tenth of the cost.
The interior’s design, built around the ideal driving positon, the quality of the panels and fit had to exceed what would be expected at the cars price point. This approach saw Zenos Cars has take more than 110 deposits and a first year production run being approximately 70. For Zenos’s founders Ansar Ali and Mark Edwards, the E10 represents the culmination of a dream.For Drive Design, it provides a mobile showcase for its design strategies for startup companies searching for the kind of collaborative, ground-up design approach that only Drive can deliver.
“Drive completely believed in and understood our vision right from the beginning. They committed themselves in every respect to developing the design of the E10, and helped us deliver a car that looks fantastic, great handling and well engineered” Ansar Ali.The Zenos E10 project is the essence of what we do at Drive. We work with clients, like startup Zenos, and help them take their idea through to production whilst understanding the business needs.