What does a 1980s IBM PC have to do with the future of the automotive industry? Well, it plays a key role in the thinking behind StreetScooter, an e-car design that is currently being developed in Germany by a consortium of 30 companies under the leadership of StreetScooter GmbH, a company founded by RWTH Aachen University.
The StreetScooter team incorporates complexity management and modular product architecture into its designs, allowing for the re-engineering of the scooter as new technology becomes available. This, in turn, enables a quick start into production while keeping the path open for innovation.
One of the fundamental challenges of any electric car design is that electric car technologies and components, such as batteries, are still evolving, in much the same way as the PC was evolving back in the 1980s.
And here’s where your old PC comes into play. IBM realized early on that product development wasn’t just about building a great product, it was about building an entire “platform.” An open architecture which allowed new technology to be added over time and with relative ease.
IBM provided a model for a modular product architecture that has enabled ongoing innovation through the adoption of the latest advances in component technology. Thanks to this modular architecture—characterized by clearly defined functional entities and interfaces—this concept spawned generations of powerful personal computers that have been built on the same basic architecture.
It’s likely that any electric car which proves as sustainable as the IBM PC model will have to be built on a modular framework so it can adapt to emerging technologies.
Industry needs to gear up for a paradigm shift from fossil fuels to electric energy over the next 10 to 30 years, and StreetScooter is well on its way to meeting its goal of creating a sustainable car design suitable for serial production in the marketplace.