Conference on Future of Automotive Design – 2nd Edition held on 19 August 2016 in Chennai

Ramesh Manickam was a speaker at  the  Conference on Future of Automotive Design – 2nd Edition held on 19 August 2016 at Hotel ITC Grand Chola, Chennai organised by Tamil Nadu Technology Development & Promotion Center of CII.

The  address  made by Ramesh Manickam  in the panel discussion on “What will be our future” was revolved around the future focussing on the user needs.

The future of Automotive design can be discussed from multiple perspectives technology, trends, design, manufacturing etc., Ramesh Manickam specifically spoke about the user and their needs which will define and drive the future. The ecosystem which will disrupt to come up with ideas to meet the user needs will be predominantly the startup ecosystem. OEM’s deal with sophistication and perfecting the existing products for sustenance by incremental innovation. The Startups will disrupt the market with experimental innovation and the OEM’s will be adopters of these business models.

Design will be driven by newer business models that will be revolving around the user , their needs and the needs that are adding value to them.  We will be seeing lots of experimental innovation that will bring about a change in how automobile are designed. The experiments will be around the user and enhancing their experiences.

This will emerge itself as a niche field and the people / team who have started doing it would be leaders in this. To say a few areas that will bring about a change based on user needs, some examples to reinforce the above in personal transportation – which will take multiple avatars :

  1. Shared Vehicles – The introduction of OLA / UBER shared vehicles has redefined the space of public shared mobility systems. Newer business models are disrupting the ecosystem and these will drive the Automotive design. The shared vehicles at present use the existing passenger vehicles for their use. In a country with roughly around 200k OLA’s running itself is a huge market to look at this segment seriously. Automotive design specific to shared transport will emerge. The drivers concerns and the user concerns in specific will be addressed and the design will revolve around the issues of personalised space, shared spaces, privacy, social interaction etc.
  2. Kids Friendly Mobility solutions – When we take the kids on a long drive – we immediately tell them to go off to sleep since it is going to be a long drive. Or give them a phone or a tablet to keep them engaged. The automobiles that are existing are not designed for kids. There is a strong need that each of us realise. But this need will become a reality when interesting business models that are associated with kids friendly mobility solutions emerge.
  3. Chauffeur driven Vehicle solutions – India and few other countries still have the luxury of Chauffeur driven cars being affordable to car owners. And this segment is huge about 8 to 12% of the market. How many of us have felt the need for privacy and the need for comfort for the rear seating.
  4. Ladies Vehicles – Women who drive automobile have been raising considerably in the last decade. And have we as designers looked as specifics for women and addressed their concerns. Women are very choosy on every accessory they wear, but when it comes to automobile they are constrained and need to live with what is available. Provide choice to women to customise their vehicle, our cars will never remain the same boring vehicles that we see today.
  5. Safety – Every day we take our vehicle out we are concerned about the body of the vehicle being scratched by minor / major accidents. Its been a problem and we keep cribbing about it always. We will see soft jelly like bumpers that are scratch resistant emerging in the market in the near / distant future.
  6. Modularity and personalisation – We are now in an era of experience and the automotive OEM in the future will provide only the shell, the user will walk in to the showroom accessorise his interior and exterior based on his preference – make an order and the vehicle will be delivered to them.

Thinking from the customers perspective and designers addressing to these problems through insights and constantly addressing the changing needs of the new age customer will define the future.

We will see trends that are happening now in similar segments beginning to happen in automotive also. For example the furniture industry has been disrupted by a  dozen startups in India scenario. Startups offering off the shelf products, customised solutions, designer furniture, modular furniture, furniture on rental models..etc have emerged giving the users  a wide variety of choices that they could make based on their needs and lifestyle requirements.

Instead of designing for the user and forcing him with ideas, design along with the user – work with him and understand his pain points and addressing them by adding value through design and business models driving these values will bring about a future that is of value and personalised.

Autocar professional – Article  Sharing the end-users perspective, Ramesh Manickam, design director, Centroid Design, spoke on how users’ needs are going to meet by designers or by a start-up-driven eco-system which is more agile to innovate.

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