Our image of an electric car is usually of a luxury model, or maybe a mid-range vehicle incapable of big consumer buy-in because of still being significantly more expensive than conventional vehicles, despite high subsidies.
This is why researchers around the world are looking into alternative concepts, for example in Aachen, Germany. e.GO is an electric vehicle spin-off from RWTH Aachen University, that is digitizing its processes from the very start. This real-life example is the focus of the CeBIT special Digitization Live display in Hall 5.
Does an electric car need to be universally usable to be economically viable? Should it be built according to the models used for today's passenger cars? With start-up costs in the high triple- or quadruple-digit millions? And five or six years of run-up time needed before series production?
The answer from Aachen to all of these questions is: No. Aachener StreetScooter, launched in 2010 and acquired by Deutsche Post DHL Group in 2014, was an earlier project that chose its own path, leading to the production of application-specific electric delivery vehicles.
e.GO Mobile was founded in spring 2015 and follows a similar path towards affordable electromobility: The entry-level model e.GO Life should come in at €15,900 (not counting the electric car buyer's premium) and offer plenty of driving pleasure and practicality for short-range travel.
Visitors to CeBIT can see just how this is achieved in Hall 5, where e.GO products, production and processes form the centerpiece of the Digitization Live special exhibit. To offer a full 360-degree look at this digital approach, e.GO's technology partners PTC , PSI , justSelling and exceet are also taking part.
How can such comparatively low prices be achieved in small batches? The Aachen-based founders working under Professor Günther Schuh, CEO of e.GO Mobile, rely on an unconventional product and manufacturing architecture. The startup's organization follows the model of a digitally native, agile company that cooperates closely with partners.
When the Aachen team prepares for their development sprint, they deliberately apply the iterative approach familiar from the software industry, to maximize the e.GO electric cars' maturity in the shortest time possible. The interaction of digitally defined requirements, constructions and validation using physical (partial) prototype builds drives this dynamic.
Compared to the usual mode of vehicle development, the team targets double the speed at one-tenth of the development budget.