Are we nearing a new era for car manufacturers?
Trends in mobility including sharing, electric cars and autonomous vehicles are often discussed and often written about. These transitions also hold significance for car parts manufacturers and there is potential for these actors to take advantage according to a recently published report called On the Road to the Circular Car.
Different innovators are responding to these opportunities and challenges in different ways, including the exploration of alternative materials, the investigation of what circular models and design mean for parts, and the evolution of take-back schemes to retain and enhance value. Published by Circle Economy and ABN AMRO, On the Road to the Circular Car focuses on the Dutch automotive sector, using existing cases to highlight the potential for manufacturers to adapt to this changing context.
The report argues that a change of mindset is needed. A transition from simply re-evaluating car design to taking into account a whole range of factors, including how vehicles are used and what happens at the end-of-use.
Plenty of examples of this kind of innovation are highlighted throughout the report, including the work of TenCate, DSM and CLAUT and their research into new kinds of polymers and lighter materials which enable design simplicity and higher levels of recyclability within car parts. It considers the impact of digital technologies like advanced sensors and self-driving tech, as well as the utilisation of Internet of Things and big data by companies such as Neways, to enable product life extension. Of course, a lot of the opportunities for innovation are at the design stage and the report highlights TU/ecomotive Nova – an electric and modular car where the parts and components can be easily replace or adjusted.
The report represents an interesting investigation into the implications of circular models in a specific country and specific sector, while concluding that there are significant opportunities for Dutch automotive suppliers (of which there are nearly 300) to compete on the international market.