In 2019, the UK became the first major economy in the world to commit to bringing down all greenhouse emissions to net zero by 2050. The recent pandemic has highlighted that all industries need to make sustainability a priority. To meet the government’s net zero target, we need to overhaul everything – from the products we use to how our buildings are made and, of course, the cars we drive.
The government has set a particularly ambitious deadline for a ban on car sales with combustion engines by 2030. This deadline may not be realistic, according to a recent report from Transport and Environment (T&E), which found that the UK is falling behind in the electric car race. Simply put, the UK is up against the clock to create more electric vehicles, largely due to increasingly stringent emissions limits. Do we have the right technology and infrastructure in place to do so at the pace required?
Overhauling manufacturing processes
For a long time, the manufacturing sector has been slow to adopt transformative technologies. We have to accept that the manufacturing sector has not led the way in adopting digital transformation. Despite having a wealth of technologies available, implementation is often seen as a tactical project with a clear strategy for digital transformation. As a result, businesses are often left to cope with the perennial problems of functional silos, disconnected data and inefficient processes.
However, today’s economic and social changes are forcing the sector to address these issues. Since the early months of 2020, it has been clear that if a business wants to thrive, it must overhaul the way it innovates and designs products.
To ensure the UK doesn’t fall behind in this race, manufacturers need the right technology investment and skills to meet rapidly increasing demand for electric vehicles and to ensure that this is done in a sustainable manner. This is where virtual twin technology will be pivotal in driving this change.
Implementing virtual twin technology
With the increased availability of technology such as virtual twins, manufacturers can bring newer models to market faster than ever before. Virtual twins give manufacturers the capabilities to manage the entire product development and manufacturing process – from modeling to simulating product designs and gaining valuable data and insight into the product-making process.
Manufacturers can test their designs to ensure they meet not only government and road safety standards but also consumer needs. Doing all of this in the virtual world will result in products that are ready to be launched on the market as soon as they are manufactured.
This shift in product development from a physical to a virtual experience can significantly reduce the amount of waste produced at every step of the product design and management chain, making manufacturing and engineering products much more sustainable and longer-lasting.
Sustainable by design
Rethinking the industry’s approach to design opens the door to a new era of green development in the automobile industry. For example, we are working with Lightyear to create its Lightyear One electric vehicle, which is powered by solar panels that charge the vehicle whenever there is sunlight. This extraordinary product was comprehensively planned, designed and tested using Dassault Systèmes’ cutting-edge virtual technologies. The Lightyear engineers managed to find the right balance of meeting the rigorous safety standards while using much lighter construction materials such as aluminum and carbon fiber. The result is a car that is lightweight, consumes less energy and has an exceptional range.
Polestar is another example of a sustainable-by-design EV. The company has recently adopted our solutions to speed up the development of new vehicles. This solution enables Polestar to design, create, test and shape any kind of surface to ensure it meets the firm’s high sustainability standards. Polestar is a true pioneer in the electric vehicle industry that aligns very closely with our values when it comes to creating a sustainable world, and it is continuing to push the boundaries of innovation.
However, this technology isn’t just for startups but also for traditional OEMs. Businesses no longer need to choose between sustainability and success – they can achieve both if we design products and services in the right way.
The future’s electric
Sustainability has to be a priority for all industries in the UK today. For the automotive sector, that means ensuring we have the necessary infrastructure and vehicles with appropriate green credentials to meet the government’s targets for net zero. The pandemic has brought to light the work that needs to be done but fortunately, we do not need a pandemic to build a sustainable society.
The world already has much of the technology, finance and policies that are required. If one good thing comes out of the crisis, it may well be that it has helped us all to visualize a more sustainable world. As we return to a new normal, reducing air pollution and transforming transportation are two ways to bring a sustainable and resilient future one step closer.