Thanks to state-of-the-art electronic components, future vehicles will be
automated, electrically powered and securely networked with interchangeable
cockpits. They could also become convertible and flexible.
There’s one connection in all vehicles that has remained untouched by
many years of automotive change; the bond between a car’s chassis and
bodywork. Since the dawn of the Automotive Age, the chassis has always carried
the gearbox, engine and suspension with the cockpit glued, welded or soldered
upon it. This has been an accepted and unchallenged premise up to now.
NXP and Rinspeed have challenged this fundamental thinking with a new
experimental concept, one that allows vehicles to become as unique as the
individuals that travel within them. The potential, enabled by
domain-based architecture, could deliver a new wave of innovation and enable flexible and securely
networked mobility. In this concept car’s framework, the cockpit
becomes a more personal reflection of an individual’s lifestyle and a
self-propelled chassis becomes a workhorse for the community and a model for
In the new NXP and Rinspeed concept car, the chassis and cockpit are
separated. While the chassis remains the most durable component of the
vehicle, the cockpit becomes a “pod”; an interchangeable capsule
with vast potential for customization. A “passenger pod” carries
people to work in the morning, a “food delivery pod” transports
food during the lunch hour, with its own refrigerated freight room and a
“cargo pod” drives at night with an extra-large loading area.
All of these pods could share the same chassis through the course of a day.
New architectures that divide vehicle electronics into five domains provide
the flexibility to make this bold concept possible. The domains, which
span the various roles of vehicles including
powertrain and vehicle dynamics,
body and comfort and
domains make reorganizing the ideas of vehicle design possible. Instead of
letting the chassis and cockpit age together, both components can go their
separate ways to enable optimum utility.
Through this concept, urgent traffic problems could also be addressed. For
example, studies show that a standard family vehicle is in motion only five
percent a day but hangs around on streets the rest of the time, blocking
valuable space in the inner cities. Wouldn’t it be ideal to enable a
24/7 use of the chassis?
The modular concept could also reduce the number of vehicles on the streets
and streamline traffic while creating more room by eliminating the need for
parking spaces as cars are kept in constant state of efficient motion. The
chassis could even fit perfectly into a city’s ecosystem by more
efficiently managing energy. If required, the chassis could transfer energy
back into the power grid or recharge autonomously if overcapacity is
This unique modular approach could also bring about new enhanced business
opportunities. Imagine free rides in a booked pod that is financed by
advertising or promotions. Can you conceive of interchangeable cockpits that
evolve into fresh new lifestyle products that inspire the best designers in
the world? A host of new and established designers could make their own marks
on branded pods with furnishings, fabrics and interior flourishes as well as
the design of user interfaces using the best in infotainment technology.
While the pod reflects the tastes of the individual, the chassis combines
functions of autonomous driving: such as state-of-the-art sensors that
accurately capture and interpret the vehicle’s environment, an electric
powertrain and smart antennas that securely connects the chassis to the
outside world, the user, the cloud or other vehicles.
The electronics architecture of the fully electric, securely connected and
fully autonomous car of the future must also be designed so that individual
domains can be updated in the vehicle through over-the-air interface at any
time and with maximum security and protection against security breaches,
attacks and manipulation. This requires
vehicle networks and gateways
that are connected efficiently and securely.
NXP is presenting this concept for the first time together with the Swiss
think tank Rinspeed at the CES 2019 in the form of a two-person vehicle. The
NXP and Rinspeed concept car is a look into the future, one that challenges
our basic assumptions about what a vehicle should be and opens fresh thinking
on the flexibility offered by domain architecture and fresh design.
Lars Reger, Senior Vice President, is chief technology officer at NXP Semiconductors. As CTO, Lars is responsible for managing new business activities and R&D in the focus markets of Automotive, Industry 4.0., Internet of Things, Mobile and Connectivity & Infrastructure.
NXP has the broadest processor portfolio for the internet of things and is the world's largest chip supplier to the automotive industry. NXP and its global team of experts drive the development of autonomous, securely connected vehicles and accelerate the introduction of smart and securely connected devices for the internet of things through its outstanding edge computing expertise.
Before joining NXP, Lars gained deep insight into the microelectronics industry with a focus on the automotive sector. He began his career with Siemens Semiconductors as as a product engineer in 1997. His past roles at Infineon included head of the process and product engineering departments, project manager for Mobile System Chips and director of IP Management. Prior to joining NXP as CTO of the automotive division in 2008, he was responsible for business development and product management within the Connectivity business unit at Continental. In December 2018 Lars was appointed CTO and has since then been responsible for the overall technology portfolio of NXP.