Future Mobility Technology Trends
a fire-side chat session with Mr Paul Masceranas, President SAE International
at Mahindra Research Valley.
When the SAE International President Mr Paul Masceranas visited Mahindra Research Valley on 24 June 2019, a small group of Inventors and Innovators had a fire-side chat session with Paul. The topics discussed covered a wide spectrum – from new-gen technologies like electric, autonomous, connected vehicles to the future of current technologies internal combustion engine (ICE) technologies, Diesel etc. Since Paul’s views on these topics could be of interest to a larger community of engineers, we thought of sharing a summary of the discussion here.
Dr Shankar Venugopal (Vice President, Mahindra & Mahindra), Mr Paul Masceranas (President, SAE International) and Mr Murli Iyer (Executive Advisor – Global Affairs, SAE International) at the Mahindra Research Valley, Chennai (24 June 2019)
The session started with the moderator (Shankar) asking Paul’s views on the disruptive transformation of the automotive industry and specifically what should be India’s response. Paul emphasized the importance of moving towards safer, efficient and affordable mobility solutions for the Indian market. He alluded to Mobility as a service (Maas) – shared vehicles to address the problem of urban mobility. He also emphasized the importance of building the necessary infrastructure – EV charging network, distribution network for clean power, good quality roads etc.
The very first question from the audience was on the leap-frogging to BS VI Emission Standards – while we move to cleaner technologies, how do we keep the cost affordable to the customer? – Paul recommended that we should take a pragmatic approach to technology development, systematically build public awareness on safety and most importantly work closely with the Government to ensure infrastructure readiness. Indian market offers a big opportunity but to tap that opportunity, we need a very frugal approach to product development.
The questions alternated between new technology and current technology. The next question was what are the global trends in ICE research – what are the recent developments in this space especially in the context of rapid electrification of the powertrain? – the move is towards more efficient and cleaner combustion. There have also been many innovations in battery technology (lithium ion and new battery chemistries), power electronics, fast charging of EVs, automotive software etc.
There were questions about End of Life Vehicles, what would be the right way to phase out the large number of old vehicles in India? Yet another question was on prioritizing the right technologies for Indian market – Paul advised that the vehicle should be appropriate for the Indian market – meeting the regulation, delighting customers (Infotronics, in-vehicle entertainment etc), meeting the price constraints – balancing performance Vs price.
The next round focused on clean fuels – after Diesel, what next – potential for Hydrogen fuel cells etc – how to meet CAFÉ norms – about the diminishing returns on R&D dollars spent on further improving ICE technology. The discussion on clean fuels eventually drifted to electric mobility – how to meet the challenge of powering so many EVs in India – matching the electricity generation with the rising demand from EVs – do we need to look at Hybrids, at least till the power and charging infrastructure is built? – a brief discussion on the potential of regenerative systems.
The discussion on EV focused on the range ideal for Indian markets – Paul advised that if we try to match the range of a diesel / gasoline vehicle, then the battery will become very heavy and costly – we should look at fast charging is the direction to move – a full charge of 300 miles in under 5 minutes, Future trends include driver assist technologies to improve safety, redefining ownership – mobility as a service on demand – improving road infrastructure from traffic congestion management, parking and charging,. He also remarked the utilization of self-owned vehicle is low (under 10%) while fleet vehicles have a very high utilization.
The discussion was wrapped up by reflecting on the key trend influencers – societal, Government, Customer expectations, OEMs, Safety, Fuel efficiency, Durability, Reliability, Affordability etc. Everybody agreed that we are close to an inflexion point – most exciting time ahead for Mobility Engineers. The future mobility is electric, autonomous, connected and shared.