SEMA eNews Vol. 14, No. 15, April 14, 2011

Advanced Vehicle Technology: The Future of Performance and Customization

SEMA News—April 2011

The Future of Performance and Customization

By Steve Campbell

    Vehicle electrification, electronics integration and connected-vehicle technologies are leading the way toward the development of cars that don’t crash, devices that don’t distract and powertrains that don’t pollute.

Courtesy Regis Lefebure
     
     
As part of our annual look at where automotive technology stands, we recently engaged in a wide-ranging conversation with John Waraniak, SEMA vice president of vehicle technology, delving further into the four advanced vehicle technology megatrends: driving green, driving connected, driving safe and driving cool.

SEMA News: What are the latest advances in electronics, including entertainment, navigation and interactive car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure systems?

John Waraniak: Vehicle electrification, electronics integration and connected-vehicle technologies are leading the way toward the development of cars that don’t crash, devices that don’t distract and powertrains that don’t pollute. Automotive technology has extended far beyond the vehicle itself. Onboard vehicle technologies combined with vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-roadside technologies are creating many new and exciting product and service opportunities for specialty-equipment and performance aftermarket manufacturers, installers, retailers and distributors. The challenges, opportunities and solutions for SEMA members lie in how effectively these features, devices and accessories can be integrated into today’s vehicles.

Technology is integral to both the relevance and the future of SEMA and the performance aftermarket. To ignore its impact is a fundamental mistake. More than half of the new vehicles offered in five years will support applications through car-radio platforms. By 2017, more than 13 million vehicles will be sold globally with connected-vehicle platforms. Aftermarket suppliers currently provide more than 35 radios supporting apps via smartphone integration and new operating systems, such as the Android that was featured on the Clemson Deep Orange vehicle displayed at the 2010 SEMA Show.

SEMA recently met with Peter Appel, administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) to discuss vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology and other advanced automotive electronics opportunities for SEMA members. SEMA is working with RITA leadership to promote the aftermarket industry’s contributions to deploying V2V and onboard technologies.

Connected vehicles have the potential to avoid crashes and make the transportation grid more efficient. Green performance and connected-vehicle technologies are quickly merging to create new business and product-development opportunities in integrating automotive and consumer electronics apps and solutions. Appel will participate again as a speaker in the Driving Connected session in the Vehicle Technology Center at the 2011 SEMA Show. He also briefed us on a new competition program launched by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on accelerating the development of connected vehicles and technologies.

The program announced by RITA is a nationwide competition seeking ideas for using wireless connectivity between vehicles to make transportation safer, greener and easier to use. During the Connected Vehicle Technology Challenge competition, RITA will accept ideas for products and applications that use dedicated short-range communications, which is a fast, secure wireless technology created specifically for connected vehicles and the evolving infrastructure. The challenge is a great opportunity for SEMA members to showcase their use of innovative new products and cutting-edge technologies.

SN: Several of the automakers are now selling battery electric vehicles (BEVs). How will electric cars and advanced vehicle technologies affect the performance and enthusiast marketplace?

JW: President Obama said in his State of the Union speech that technology innovation will be the nation’s “Sputnik moment,” and that the economy’s priorities will be focused on industries such as clean energy and advanced technology. His plan is to have one million advanced-technology electric vehicles on the road by 2015. This is a tough challenge because only 20,000 electric vehicles are expected to be sold this year. It took Toyota 10 years to sell one million Prius hybrids, and hybrid sales peaked at 353,000 in 2007.

     
   
Today’s vehicles are not just a collection of 5,000 loosely integrated parts. They are an interdependent “system of systems,” connecting body, chassis, interior and powertrain systems through more than 150 controllers and 10 million lines of code and embedded software.
     
     
Margin times market share times market size is the new metric for competitiveness, and the market for electric vehicles is just not there yet. Incentivizing the market to jumpstart it is a good strategy, but it is not sustainable in the hyper-competitive automotive industry of today and tomorrow. Total industry sales in 2011 will be somewhere between 11 and 12 million vehicles, which means less than 0.2% of all vehicles sold in the United States will be BEVs. So what’s all the hype about electric vehicles? Industry statistics indicate that only 7% of new-car shoppers are considering electric vehicles. The United States has more than $25 billion invested in advanced-technology vehicle development and only two BEVs in production—the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf. The Ford Focus Electric will become available in late 2011. The high cost of batteries, the small market segment for short-range compact cars and the multitude of consumer choices for alternative powertrain vehicles make this challenge noble but unreal.

Forcing electric vehicles on the market will not make them sell. President Obama is also working to realign the U.S. government’s vehicle-technology priorities. The White House’s proposed budget for 2012 would end federal government programs that fund hydrogen fuel cell research and efforts to develop clean diesel engines and retrofit older diesels. The budget proposes diverting funds from a dozen energy company tax breaks to help pay for putting the one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 and help grow the market for electric cars. The budget proposal would transform a $7,500 tax credit for buyers of plug-in electric cars into a rebate at the dealership so that purchasers would not have to wait to claim the credit on their tax returns.

     
     
   

“The Challenge is a great
opportunity for SEMA members
to showcase their use of
innovative new products and
cutting-edge technologies.”

     
     
Consumers are generally loss averse. Uncertainty about future fuel savings makes paying more for alternative vehicle technologies a risky bet that most consumers are unwilling to make. Electric vehicles must solve customer problems without creating new ones. Consumers will not adopt new technologies unless they are better in every way than existing solutions, and the internal-combustion engine is far from dead. The Ford F-150 is still the top-selling vehicle in the United States. This may change in the coming years due to gas prices and consumer behaviors, but SEMA businesses also have to seize the day in order to create the future.

Advanced vehicle technologies go beyond battery-driven electric motors. The kinetic energy recovery hybrid system featured in the Porsche 918 RSR stores and releases energy without batteries. The kinetic hybrid system uses a flywheel to capture energy during braking from front-wheel motor hubs. Regenerative braking charges the flywheel, and the driver presses a button to access the energy, generating up to 75 kilowatts and adding more than 200 hp to the 918’s 560 hp. Power electronics is the new horsepower and represents an emerging technology in the performance aftermarket and new opportunities for the next generation of hot rodders and enthusiasts.

Automotive OEMs are also working with lightweight materials and advanced technologies to reduce the mass of each new generation of vehicles, optimize system integration and refine aerodynamics. Experts estimate that every additional 100 lbs. of weight a vehicle has to carry reduces fuel efficiency by 1%–2%. The new eco-version of the Chevy Cruze has lower fasciae and an aerodynamic shutter that closes to increase fuel efficiency.

SN: How is the industry addressing increasing vehicle complexity and cross-industry product development?

JW: Open innovation, collaboration, systems engineering and lean customization are quickly becoming best practices and competitive advantages in the new automotive normal. Today’s vehicles are not just a collection of 5,000 loosely integrated parts. They are an interdependent “system of systems,” connecting body, chassis, interior and powertrain systems through more than 150 controllers and 10 million lines of code and embedded software. Automotive vehicle systems engineering is, in some cases, very close to rocket science. Both the NHTSA and NASA played a critical role in the electronics systems and electromagnetic interference analysis of the unintended acceleration of vehicles produced by Toyota. These studies reinforced confidence in the safety and reliability of the advanced technologies of Toyota vehicles.

Products, processes and profits are inextricably linked. Lean customization, like lean production, is a paradox. On one hand, every activity, task and flow of work is rigidly scripted. Yet at the same time, lean operations are very flexible and responsive to customer demand. Designing for customization is the intersection of design, technology and the customer experience. Designing for customization and lean-customization principles cast the biggest shadow on profitable personalization. Commoditization, standardization and commonization actually drive customization.

Lean-customization principles can make the difference between built-in profits and reverse-engineered costs. The OEMs are being driven to reduce vehicle complexity while simultaneously increasing the flexibility to build more models and variants off of fewer platforms. Aftermarket companies and dealers can also help take the complexity out of assembly plants by collaborating with OEMs to develop product plans and vehicle architectures with cost-effective, simplified bills of material that can be profitably customized with factory and aftermarket-branded parts and accessories at dealers, customization centers and independent installers.

     
    Ford F-150 supplied by Superlift Suspension Systems was created in CarSim and was connected to the ESC controller and brake system of the actual vehicle.
A virtual test method was demonstrated at the SEMA Show last year. In the demonstration, a virtual model of a modified Ford F-150 supplied by Superlift Suspension Systems was created in CarSim and was connected to the ESC controller and brake system of the actual vehicle.
     
     
If you are truly committed to competing and growing in the new automotive normal, designing for lean customization is a five-star product-development process. It’s a two-star process if you are simply involved. And it’s a waste of time if you are just going through the motions.

Enlightened automakers, consumer-electronics manufacturers, aftermarket companies, dealers and installers recognize that they need to work together to ensure that they can personalize vehicles and add future capabilities profitably. Open innovation and collaboration are essential for growth. Ford’s signature technologies—SYNC and EcoBoost—are great examples of Ford’s collaboration and personalization strategy for driving connected and driving green. Automakers and aftermarket companies that do not know how to apply collaborative value-chain practices and technologies will be beaten by those who do.

Collaboration is not a hobby. It’s not easy to collaborate. It’s an unnatural act. Mazda, for example, will launch a hybrid using Toyota technology in 2013. Successful OEMs will rely more on the aftermarket to reach new markets and segments with increased personalization and lower costs. The old approach of proprietary architectures and closed systems hasn’t died yet, and the new approach to open innovation and collaboration is
just beginning.

SEMA’s innovative partnership with the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) is an excellent example of open innovation and generative thinking in action. SEMA and CU-ICAR have teamed up to offer SEMA members access to world-class resources, including a 580hp engine dynamometer test cell, a dual-column full-vehicle coordinate measuring machine, a seven-post road simulator in an environmental chamber, an electromagnetic compatibility chamber and a 500hp four-wheel chassis dynamometer in an anechoic chamber.

SN: What is the state of modern musclecar technology—high-performance vehicles, such as the new Camaro, Mustang and Charger—and how will it affect SEMA-member companies?

JW: While many SEMA companies feared that advanced technologies signaled the demise of the specialty-equipment market and believed tighter federal emissions and fuel-efficiency standards would eliminate performance vehicles from America’s roadways, something quite different is happening. Green muscle is alive and well and took center stage at many of this year’s auto shows. Leading automakers are focusing on matching horsepower with the fastest computing power.

     
     
   

“Open innovation, collaboration,
systems engineering and lean
customization are quickly
becoming best practices and
competitive advantages in the
new automotive normal.”

     
     
Only 20% of the fuel’s energy is used to power vehicles equipped with traditional internal-combustion engines. Despite the hype and increased attention being focused on alternative fuels, the gasoline internal-combustion engine will continue to be a major element in the growth of the performance aftermarket for years to come due to significant innovations and improvements in gasoline direct injection, turbocharging, supercharging and electronic
fuel management.

Horsepower still moves product. Nearly every major automaker now offers a performance car for street use that is as powerful as many of the race cars on the track. The Cadillac CTS-VR is equipped with a supercharged V8 that pumps out 556 hp. The new supercharged V8 Camaro ZL1 offers 550 hp and 550 lb.-ft. of torque. Chevy will introduce a new limited-edition Camaro every six months. The ’11 Mustang with an aluminum V6 makes 305 hp and gets 31 miles per gallon. The ’12 Dodge Charger SRT8 delivers an exceptionally mean version of its flagship sedan to the tune of 465 hp from an even larger Hemi V8. The engine grows from 6.1L to 6.4L with 465 lb.-ft. of torque.

Advanced engine and transmission technologies, such as cam phasing, variable valve timing, port deactivation, direct injection, turbo boosting, dry dual clutches and wide-ratio six-speed-plus gearing, combined with reduced mass, decreased parasitic losses and integrated engine and transmission control software have improved the internal-combustion engine in these vehicles to efficiencies that would have been unbelievable just five years ago.

It’s not just new vehicles that are repowering the American Dream. Neil Young demonstrated the entrepreneurial spirit of SEMA members and performance enthusiasts everywhere with his keynote remarks and the introduction of his ’59 Lincvolt at the Green Performance session during last year’s SEMA Show. Lincvolt is the world’s first microturbine-powered bio-electro-cruiser and proves that a plug-in electroturbine series hybrid can deliver the performance of a fullsize long-range highway cruiser and achieve ultralow emissions. Lincvolt weighs nearly 2.5 times what a typical hybrid electric car weighs, yet it has a 400-mile extended range and a 50-mile range on electric power only. 

SN: General Motors released information recently about an OnStar mirror that will be retailed for non-GM vehicles. How will those types of innovations impact SEMA companies?

JW: Telematics and connected-vehicle technologies may not seem that pervasive in the automotive aftermarket yet, but that is changing quickly, as evidenced by the new vehicles on display at this year’s auto shows. Ford’s voice-activated SYNC platform continues to evolve with new features and capabilities and has been installed in more than 3 million vehicles. More than 80% of Ford buyers take the SYNC option, and Hyundai is launching its own system called Blue Link.

The recently introduced aftermarket version of OnStar is embedded in a replacement rearview mirror and sells for $299 plus a $100 installation. Expect more automakers, aftermarket suppliers, app developers and installers to form collaborative partnerships to leverage infotainment innovations and capitalize on this growing market. Ford CEO Alan Mulally summed up vehicle connectivity very well when he said: “It’s cool to connect. But it’s past cool. It’s a reason to buy!” I would add that if you think it’s too connected, you are too old. GenGreeners, the next generation of car buyers and enthusiasts, are under 16 years old today and will be the first generation to grow up with the choice of an electric, a hybrid or an internal-combustion engine as one of their buying options.

     
    Ralph Gilles, senior vice president of product design and president and CEO of the Dodge Car Brand, Chrysler Group LLC, shown here with the newly introduced Dodge Charger SRT8
Ralph Gilles, senior vice president of product design and president and CEO of the Dodge Car Brand, Chrysler Group LLC, shown here with the newly introduced Dodge Charger SRT8, summed up the future of performance and customization very well. “Everyone is a car person,” he said. “Some just don’t know it.”
     
     
SN: What are some of the other significant automotive applications that have been introduced this year?

JW: Millions of people have powerful smart phones that are loaded with a variety of capabilities, such as Pandora’s Internet radio app, that consumers can use in their vehicles. BMW’s MINI and aftermarket companies are taking advantage of Apple’s iPhone capabilities and offering an automotive-grade iPod interface that supports Apple’s iPod Out through the MINI connected system. The iPod screen appears in the vehicle’s display screen. Drivers are familiar with the screen, so it is less distracting than adding
another interface.

Distracted driving is certainly a concern for both OEMs and aftermarket companies that are providing connected-vehicle products, apps and solutions. An estimated 20% of injury crashes were reported to have involved driver distraction. Glances away from the road for more than two seconds for any purpose double the risk of a crash or near crash. Many drivers—particularly GenY’ers, which is the largest generation ever—understand the risk and will find ways to stay connected and be on the grid while driving. Forcing them to go off the grid and not be connected with their friends and networks while driving is not a feasible solution.

The app is just as important as the content. I asked a panel of six experts at a recent Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) discussion on automotive and consumer electronics what feature, function, system or app would be most significant in the next five years and if it would come from inside or outside the auto industry. Five of the six said it would come from outside the auto industry.

     
     
   

“Eco-friendly vehicles will remain
a niche segment for the next
decade despite all the hype
and headlines. Performance
vehicles will also continue
as a niche segment.”

     
     
SN:
What is SEMA doing in the area of vehicle dynamics of aftermarket-modified vehicles and the new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) 126 regulation that goes into effect for all U.S. cars and trucks in model-year ’12, requiring all vehicles 10,000 lbs. or less to include an electronic stability control (ESC) system as
standard equipment?

JW: ESC monitors vehicle motion. When loss of control is imminent, ESC strategically applies the brakes to help stabilize the vehicle. Similar requirements for the rest of the global community are contained in the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe 13H regulations.

Compliance with FMVSS is normally the responsibility of vehicle manufacturers; however, SEMA has taken a proactive approach and developed a methodology and program to evaluate the ESC performance of aftermarket-modified vehicles. To actually test every vehicle configuration is cost prohibitive for OEMs and the aftermarket, so SEMA sought outside help from leading industry experts and companies in the area of vehicle dynamics simulation and testing to develop a “best practices” solution to offer member companies. It’s important to note that any modification to the engine, steering, brakes, suspension, wheels or tires may have an impact on
ESC performance.

A virtual test method was demonstrated at the SEMA Show last year, drawing on the controls-development experience of Advanced Controls Engineering Consultants LLC, the CarSim vehicle dynamics simulation produced by Mechanical Simulation Corporation and the hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) technologies of dSPACE GmbH. A modified Ford F-150 supplied by Superlift Suspension Systems was used as the test vehicle. In the demonstration, a virtual model of the vehicle was created in CarSim and was connected to the ESC controller and brake system of the actual vehicle.

The CarSim software provides not only a dynamic model of the pickup, but also a virtual proving ground on which to conduct the tests. It also includes steering and throttle inputs that are required to execute the sine with dwell (SWD) test maneuver. CarSim connects to the ESC controller on the vehicle through the dSPACE hardware.

     
   
Neil Young demonstrated the entrepreneurial spirit of SEMA members and performance enthusiasts everywhere with his keynote remarks and the introduction of his ’59 Lincvolt at the Green Performance session during last year’s SEMA Show. Courtesy Steve Cross, Courtesy of Shakey Pictures
     
     
Throughout the test, CarSim sends vehicle dynamics information about wheel speeds, steering-wheel angle, yaw rates and lateral acceleration to the ESC controller. The ESC controller performs as if it is experiencing the maneuver in an actual vehicle and controls the application of the individual brakes on the vehicle. Pressure transducers installed at each of the truck’s brakes report the application pressure back to CarSim, which determines the brake forces applied at each wheel of the simulated vehicle and the subsequent dynamic response. Displays and readouts of the vehicle’s dynamic response on CarSim plots allow engineers to determine whether the vehicle meets the required performance. The ESC-HIL simulation does this at a fraction of the cost of an actual physical test.

An ESC-HIL demonstration with expanded vehicle simulation capabilities will be set-up in the SEMA Vehicle Technology Center (VTC) at this year’s SEMA Show, where attendees can see the latest advanced vehicle technologies impacting the specialty-equipment and performance aftermarket industry today and in the immediate future.

SN:The aftermarket is being bombarded with green technologies and advanced electronics. Other industries are dedicated to technologies that are peripheral to automobiles but don’t address the vehicles themselves. SEMA members do. How is SEMA increasing its relevance as technological innovation expands?

JW: One very exciting element of our vehicle technology strategy is to create the SEMA Vehicle Technology Center at the SEMA Show. The VTC will showcase SEMA’s vehicle technology programs and partners and the benefits to members. The VTC and its Tech Zones are being designed to reinforce our efforts to appeal to emerging-technology enthusiasts and bring greater focus, urgency and performance aftermarket relevance to our advanced-technology offerings. We also want to put vehicle technology on the front lines, similar to what GM and Ford have done recently with the creation of new chief technology officer positions.

The purpose of the VTC is to inform and educate SEMA members. We also want to increase member participation in and understanding of the programs, partnerships, services and systems as well as product and vehicle development tools, methodologies and resources that are available at affordable costs to SEMA-member companies.

The Vehicle Technology Center consists of both a virtual platform and a physical platform. The virtual platform will include a VTC theater with seven education seminars focused on identifying and integrating key industry trends, technologies and SEMA initiatives. They will help members understand the challenges of advanced vehicle technologies and leverage new business opportunities as well as provide networking opportunities for collaborative product-development relationships. The seminars will open with a vehicle technology keynote featuring Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president for research and advanced engineering at Ford Motor Company. They will also include more than 20 experts from leading automakers, powersports, aftermarket, technology and marketing companies throughout the week. 

The seminars will focus on the future of performance and customization, branding performance, marketing to enthusiasts, designing for customization, vehicle dynamics of aftermarket-modified vehicles, green performance and connected-vehicle technologies. The physical platform and exhibit space in the VTC will showcase SEMA-developed solutions with technology simulations, demonstrations and workshops to introduce members to the benefits of SEMA vehicle technology programs and partners.

SEMA is continually working to develop vehicle technology solutions and build relationships that foster collaboration between the automakers, the original-equipment suppliers, dealers, research organizations, industry associations and member companies. SEMA’s Vehicle Technology Center will provide members with in-depth information and hands-on understanding from leading industry experts about advanced vehicle technologies and emerging systems to help them understand the impact on their business today, as well as prepare for and leverage tomorrow’s technologies and business opportunities.

SN: What should SEMA members understand in a general sense about the role of technology in the future of the automobile?

JW: Advanced vehicle technologies are driving the future of performance and customization. Both the automobile and the industry are being reinvented. Systems are moving from mechanical to electrical. Vehicles are moving from standalone to connected, and markets are moving from mass production to niche segments and personalization.

Innovation is the engine of growth. Growth in the new auto normal doesn’t lie in disrupting large, over-served markets but in disrupting small under-served markets and emerging segments focused on product differentiation, performance and customization.

Eco-friendly vehicles will remain a niche segment for the next decade despite all the hype and headlines. Performance vehicles will also continue as a niche segment. Both will coexist as advanced vehicle technologies are developed and deployed. Hybrids and electric vehicles will make up less than 10% of the vehicle market by 2020, and while many consumers consider themselves performance enthusiasts, that market segment will be about 10% as well.

My good friend, Ralph Gilles, senior vice president of product design and president and CEO of the Dodge Car Brand, Chrysler Group LLC, and a longtime SEMA advocate, recently launched his “Never Neutral” campaign and summed up the future of performance and customization very well. “Everyone is a car person,” he said. “Some just don’t know it.”

Rate this article: 5 (4 votes)