Simulated driving experience: Shifting gears digitally

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Simulated driving experience: Shifting gears digitally

Simulated driving experience: Shifting gears digitally

Subheading text
Electric vehicles are shifting lanes into the past, where driving feels like your favorite classic car but without the gas guzzlers.
    • Author:
    • Author name
      Quantumrun Foresight
    • June 4, 2024

    Insight summary

    Simulated driving technology offers a unique blend of traditional driving sensations with the eco-friendliness of electric vehicles (EVs), appealing to those nostalgic for the feel of petrol engines while embracing modern advancements. This innovation allows for customizable driving experiences, enabling users to select the characteristics of various engines and even manual transmissions. As the industry explores multiple approaches to integrate this technology, it raises questions about the future of driving skills, the automotive workforce, and regulatory standards.

    Simulated driving experience context

    Simulated driving experience technology merges nostalgia and visceral feedback of traditional internal combustion engines with the environmental benefits and innovation of electric powertrains. For instance, the Japanese luxury car brand Lexus developed a manual transmission for electric cars that simulates the feeling of driving a petrol-powered vehicle. This design also allows drivers to choose the driving characteristics of various petrol engines, complete with a traditional gear shifter and clutch pedal, to enhance the driving experience without producing emissions.

    The approach to simulated driving experiences varies across the automotive industry, with several other manufacturers exploring different avenues to engage drivers. Ford and Jeep, for example, have experimented with incorporating actual manual transmissions into EVs, like in the Mustang Lithium and Wrangler Magneto concepts, offering a more tactile interaction with the vehicle's power. Conversely, Opel's Manta GSe ElektroMod concept updates a classic car with an electric motor and manual transmission, emphasizing the potential to blend classic design with modern technology. These initiatives highlight companies' diverse strategies to make EVs more appealing and engaging to a broad spectrum of drivers.

    Haptic technology is crucial in enriching the simulated driving experience by providing tactile feedback through various vehicle components, such as the steering wheel, pedals, and seats. This technology can simulate the sensation of different terrains or alert drivers to safety warnings without visual or audio cues. Electronic company TDK and its collaborators are pioneering in this field, developing platforms that integrate haptic feedback into vehicle consoles, offering customizable and adaptive user interfaces. 

    Disruptive impact

    People may find driving more enjoyable as they can select the feel of their vehicle, making the transition to EVs more appealing. However, reliance on simulation could lead to diminished manual driving skills, as the tactile and auditory cues differ from those in traditional vehicles. Moreover, this trend could democratize access to the sensation of driving luxury or classic cars, previously out of reach for many, by emulating these experiences in more accessible EVs.

    Car manufacturers may need to invest in software development and haptic technology to stay competitive, shifting the focus from engine performance to digital innovation. This trend may also open new revenue streams, such as software updates for new driving experiences, but it requires companies to manage the complexity of integrating these technologies without compromising vehicle safety. Additionally, the automotive after-market and service industries may need to evolve, focusing more on software troubleshooting than mechanical repairs.

    Governments may face the challenge of regulating a rapidly evolving landscape where software plays a crucial role in vehicle performance and safety. Policies and regulations need to adapt to ensure that simulated driving technologies meet safety standards and do not distract drivers. Moreover, this trend could influence environmental policies, as the attractiveness of EVs increases, potentially accelerating the transition away from fossil fuels. Governments might collaborate on standards for these technologies, ensuring they are compatible and safe across borders, facilitating the global trade of vehicles and technology.

    Implications of simulated driving experience

    Wider implications of simulated driving experience may include: 

    • Car manufacturers forming partnerships with tech companies to integrate advanced simulation technologies, resulting in a blend of automotive and software expertise.
    • New job opportunities in software development and engineering specifically focused on simulated driving experiences, changing the landscape of the automotive workforce.
    • Virtual marketplaces for downloading and trading car simulation software, similar to app stores, providing a new revenue stream for developers.
    • Governments implementing updated safety standards and testing protocols for EVs with simulated driving features to ensure public road safety.
    • A shift in consumer preferences towards customizable vehicle experiences, influencing future vehicle design and manufacturing processes.
    • Traditional driving schools incorporating simulated driving technology into their curriculum, offering a new, safe way to learn driving skills.
    • An increase in software piracy and unauthorized modifications as simulated driving experiences become more popular, raising concerns about vehicle safety and copyright infringement.
    • Public infrastructure adapting to accommodate EVs with advanced simulation features, including updates to charging stations and parking facilities to support new technologies.

    Questions to consider

    • How will transitioning to EVs with simulated driving experiences impact your daily commute and travel preferences?
    • How could introducing software-based driving simulations influence your next vehicle purchase decision?

    Insight references

    The following popular and institutional links were referenced for this insight: