by Philip Johnston, CEO, Trackwise
The automotive industry has seen some major transformations in the last decade. The rise of new automotive brands and the emphasis on electric vehicles has led change on an unprecedented scale. In common with most innovators, their revolutionary approach comes from a new way of thinking about a problem and without the constraints of a legacy business model. For the established vehicle manufacturers, it has been a huge wake-up call.
Technology continues to drive automotive innovation, and as we head towards the growing adoption of fully autonomous electric vehicles, the number of electronics systems increases exponentially.
Change is good
Today, the major legacy automotive brands continue to use the methods and architectures of the past, some of which haven’t changed significantly since Henry Ford’s time. Take the wiring harness for example. Traditional complex and heavy looms of wires still connect everything together in a vehicle despite the increasing sophistication of automotive systems. The automotive industry has been exceptionally good at tying itself in knots with the complexity of wiring looms required for different vehicle platforms and model variants.
With the adoption of robust networking protocols such as Ethernet, wiring harnesses should be getting less complicated even with the provision of redundant connections. Conveniently, the starting point for automotive innovators is based on a fully networked approach. The legacy of a rats-nest of wires coming from the battery through switches to power lights and other equipment is doomed.
Automotive innovator Tesla, for example, has already transformed the wiring harness using a more IT-centric approach for their Model Y platform. The patent application can be found here. Apart from the technical drivers for Tesla’s innovations – the reduction of length and weight – their new wiring loom can be installed by robots. In addition to the cost savings, Tesla also gains significant labour cost benefits and production efficiencies with this approach.
At Trackwise we’re already deploying the unlimited length flexi-circuit technology called Improved Harness Technology™ (IHT) we’ve innovated in EV battery modules and packs. The next step is to use our flexi-circuits to connect up the whole vehicle. Our question for automotive manufacturers is: “Are you ready to innovate?”