The route toward the car of the future passes through the Paris Region
Is the auto industry behind the times? Of course not! Faced with the challenges of the digital era and global warming, the sector has stepped up its innovation in recent years. The Paris Region ecosystem is fully committed to meeting these imperatives.
In 1989, Marty McFly got on the road to 2015 with a flying car in “Back to the Future 2,” the well-loved cult film. Twenty-five years later, cars still don’t fly, but the auto industry is clearly undergoing massive changes. First, due to environmental issues. To limit the impact of their products, industry players are vying with each other to innovate, especially concerning engines (e.g. electric, hybrid) and materials. Second, because the driver’s relationship with his vehicle has changed. Especially for urban dwellers, cars have become a service, used according to one’s needs.
“The auto industry’s business model will change,” said Michel Parent, Scientific Advisor at Inria, the French National Institute for computer science and applied mathematics. “Manufacturers will still have the capacity to produce vehicles, but they will not necessarily continue to sell them to individuals.”
The success of young companies – founded in the Paris Region – perfectly illustrates these new trends: increasing use of carpooling solutions (e.g. BlaBlaCar, Karos), car sharing (Drivy, Koolicar), chauffeur-driven passenger vehicles (e.g. Chauffeur-Privé, LeCab), not to mention self-service vehicles (Autolib, Cityscoot).
From the connected car to the intelligent shuttle
This environmental commitment and changes in the value chain combine with another trend: the progressive integration of digital technology in cars. Connected and intelligent vehicles provide greater safety for passengers. Recent models incorporate driver assistance to keep the car in its lane, regulate its speed and thus, ultimately, reduce driver stress.
Will computers soon take the wheel permanently? “When people talk about autonomous vehicles, obviously part of it is just buzz,” commented Marc Charlet, Director General at the Mov’eo competitiveness cluster, specializing in R&D for the automotive and mobility sectors. “In practice, innovation takes place step by step. Paris Region auto manufacturers are working on robust technologies that will, over time, allow driving tasks to be increasingly handled by the vehicle.”
Two major approaches are likely to emerge. One is to make today’s vehicles smarter on all roads (e.g. city, country, highway). The other, expected to appear in the next few years, deploys driverless shuttles in restricted environments (e.g. factories, campsites, campuses).
An active ecosystem in the Paris Region
One thing is certain: the Paris Region will be at the forefront as these technologies and approaches are developed. Under the leadership of the Mov’eo competitiveness cluster, many innovative collaborative projects are under development in the Region, to benefit drivers worldwide. And especially in Asia, where the automotive market is currently seeing strong growth. “It is no exaggeration to say that the car of the future is being invented in the Paris Region,” boasted Charlet. “We have a genuine innovation ecosystem, allying car manufacturers (e.g. Renault, PSA), parts manufacturers (e.g. Valeo, Faurecia, Continental, Bosch, Michelin), engineering schools, research centers and institutes (e.g. Inria, VeDeCom) and, of course, numerous startups. They are all working hard to address the major challenges facing the world of automobiles and mobility.”
Key subjects are sobriety, safety and connectivity. And perhaps the scriptwriters of “Back to the Future” were actually quite prescient. In the Paris Region in 2016, cars are not yet flying, but they are already doing much more than that!
|Mov’eo, Imagine Mobility
Founded in 2006, the Mov’eo competitiveness cluster is the key force driving the Paris Region automotive and mobility ecosystem. Mov’eo promotes exchanges between major industry players, SMEs, research organizations and local authorities, focusing on collaborative innovation projects. With 380 members, it is one of the largest French innovation communities for mobility products and services.
Examples of projects supported by Mov’eo
Cityscoot: first self-service rental system for electric scooters in Paris
Faurecia: innovation program to reduce the weight of automobile seats
SCORE@F: experimental program for communication between vehicles and infrastructures
STEP: creation of a fleet of hydrogen-fueled taxis
Valeo: development of an electric supercharger
|Autonomy: urban mobility in the spotlight
Driving your car around town with no passengers will soon be a thing of the past! This undeniable observation is the force behind the “Autonomy” event, which will present its first edition from 6-9 October in the Grande Halle at Parc de la Villette in northeast Paris. A new type of event, it represents the first festival of urban mobility, with a concept combining exhibitions, fun activities, conferences and a collaborative platform.
Mobility as a lifestyle
Scheduled concurrently with the Paris Motor Show, will Autonomy compete with its big brother? Not according to South African entrepreneur Ross Douglas, the man behind Autonomy. “We are not the anti-Paris Motor Show. We want to represent a different vision. Motor shows are for automobile enthusiasts, who view the car as an object. They are quite important for this industry. Our audience is, instead, people who love mobility, regardless of the means of transport.”
Try before you buy
For its first edition, Autonomy hopes to welcome about 30,000 visitors, who fall into three categories. Policy-makers will be there to investigate new urban mobility strategies. Professionals will exchange business cards and sign contracts. Finally, consumers can learn about – and try – new products on the event’s three tracks: standard and electric bicycles, scooters, self-balancing electric unicycles (EUC), electric cars, autonomous shuttles, and more. In addition to mobility solutions, the exhibition space will be also open to “urban lifestyle” products (clothes and accessories). This first event marks the start of an exciting journey!
Autonomy in figures:
Area: 18,000 m2 (190,000 ft2)