World Steel Association partners with Ricardo on autonomous ridesharing vehicle

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WorldAutoSteel, the automotive group of the World Steel Association, and its engineering partner Ricardo, an engineering and strategic consulting company, have unveiled the exterior styling vision for a fully autonomous ride-hailing, ridesharing vehicle designed to showcase the benefits of using steel for global Mobility as a Service.

The Steel E-Motive vehicle design features battery-electric propulsion, Level 5 autonomy and four-wheel steering for maximum functionality and maneuverability. Ricardo says the design and engineering reflect likely use in a mixed environment where both manual and autonomous vehicles are operating. Vehicle specifications are geared to high-volume manufacture with vehicle producers, fleet operators and ride-hailing users in mind.

The companies state that the Steel E-Motive vehicle design has been optimized to include technologies that are deployable by 2030 and beyond, and meet requirements for inner-city driving needs. The concept comprises a compact, four-passenger vehicle and a version with space for more passengers and luggage for out-of-town journeys. Designed by Maurizio Tancredi, chief style and industrial designer at Ricardo, the Steel E-Motive’s exterior styling is reportedly created around generative design thinking and inspired by contemporary architecture in global cities, enabling the vehicle to fit harmoniously into the urban landscape.

Cees ten Broek, director at WorldAutoSteel, remarked, “Since this program began in November 2020, we have continued to progress with design and engineering of this steel-intensive ridesharing, ride-hailing vehicle. We’ve focused on delivering a solution that meets the essential requirements for mass scale deployment in future mobility applications. It is efficient in its construction, manufacturing and total lifecycle emissions, as well as attractive in the landscape for which it is intended.”

The companies claim that the use of steel will enable the engineering team to meet Mobility as a Service operational, safety and environment requirements. For example, its strength and formability support a unique low-height, coverless and integrated battery case and a flat-floor interior, which also improves accessibility. A unique rocker design offers superior crush force and protection not only to the occupant but also to the high-voltage battery internals.

Steel is claimed to deliver cost, weight and sustainability benefits over a conventional battery pack built using alternative materials, while meeting all current and future anticipated safety standards and legislation. Accessibility is also at the core of the vehicle’s design. The requirement for low step-in height has driven the primary structure and is enabled by the novel battery case solution.  A very wide door opening provides ample access for people and goods, and the unique door structure provides reduced outswing to the road side.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he oversees Automotive Powertrain Technology and Professional Motorsport World magazines as editor.

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