Published on April 1st 2021 in

Cooperation at the highest level

BASF Automotive Solutions reinforces its position at the cutting edge of technology with its commitment to two great industry initiatives.

BASF becomes member of Catena-X Automotive Network.

The alliance for secure and cross-company data exchange in the automotive industry is picking up speed, and BASF joins Catena-X as the alliance takes a leading role.

A recent event known as “Durch Kooperation an die Spitze. Die Automobilbranche gestaltet den digitalen Wandel”, or “To the top through cooperation: the automotive industry is shaping digital transformation”, was hosted by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA). It was held to share a progress report on the alliance, as well as further details on the initiative.

The founders of the partner network, including BMW, Deutsche Telekom, Robert Bosch, SAP, Siemens and ZF Friedrichshafen, have been joined by the likes of BASF, Mercedes-Benz, Henkel, Schaeffler, German Edge Cloud, ISTOS, SupplyOn and the German Aerospace Centre, as well as several small and medium-sized companies.

The Automotive Alliance, known as Catena-X Automotive Network, will be registered as an association in Germany and will be an implementation-oriented network and aim to ensure openness and neutrality.

Catena-X sees itself as an extensible ecosystem in which automotive manufacturers and suppliers, dealer associations and equipment suppliers, including the providers of applications, platforms and infrastructure, can all participate equally. The purpose of the association is to create a uniform standard for information and data-sharing throughout the entire automotive value chain.

Dr Markus Kamieth, a member of the BASF board, said: “We are proud to join the automotive alliance as an inaugural member. Building on our broad and deep industry know-how, we are committed to drive forward the collaboration towards a more efficient and sustainable automotive value chain.”

All of the companies involved want to increase the automotive industry’s competitiveness, improve efficiency through industry-specific cooperation, and accelerate company processes through standardisation and access to information and data. A special focus is also on SMEs, whose active participation is of central importance for the network’s success, which is why Catena-X has been conceived from the outset as an open network with solutions ready for SMEs, where these companies will be able to participate quickly and with little IT infrastructure investment.

Moreover, the European automotive industry’s existing structures, such as processes in the field of parts logistics, are to be integrated into the network and further optimised. Alongside the benefits of greater efficiency in the supply chain, the network participants expect more efficient quality and logistics processes, greater transparency in terms of sustainably reduced CO2 emissions, and simplified master data management. In this way, continuously connected data chains make it possible to create digital twins of automobiles on the basis of which innovative business processes and service offerings can be developed.

With the International Data Spaces (IDS) standard for data sovereignty, which also lays the foundation for the European cloud data infrastructure GAIA-X, the companies involved have already agreed on essential infrastructure foundations for project implementation.

In the first phase, the Catena-X pilot projects are focused on five areas of application that have been jointly defined as: quality management, logistics, maintenance, supply chain management, and sustainability. Applications supporting production and development are planned for future phases.

With the help of a networked data infrastructure, these application areas can significantly help to boost productivity and improve sustainability along future value chains. The data network will create an important starting point for the industry to respond more efficiently to the challenges of digital transformation and to make better use of the opportunities offered by digitalisation.

BASF’s new virtual car showcases chemistry-driven solutions for future mobility.

BASF Automotive Solutions is excited to announce the launch of their virtual car. From engineering plastics and coatings to cathode materials, fuels and lubricants and more, this new interactive tool presents BASF’s broad portfolio of automotive solutions to help customers continue to innovate and drive the mobility industry forward. With the virtual car, automotive OEMs, engineers, designers and developers can explore by specific materials or material properties, across vehicle segments, by different powertrains, or by industry topic to determine which BASF solutions will best address their needs.

Alex Horisberger, senior specialist design consultant at BASF, helped lead the development of the virtual car. With a background in product design and experience working with engineers, Alex coordinated across BASF’s global teams to ensure the virtual car is a functional, technical and aesthetically pleasing tool. He shares his thoughts on the virtual car and how it can inspire those who are helping transform the industry.

What the virtual car offers automakers.

The virtual car is designed to show automakers how BASF materials can help solve the challenges facing the industry. Beyond its technical function, the elegant design is intended to motivate and inspire designers and engineers to explore new ways to leverage BASF’s material know-how against their toughest challenges.

We know that the current rate of change in automotive is intense, which is why you won’t see any fleeting or trendy elements found in cars today. It was important to create a balance to show which BASF solutions can help answer the question, “what now?”, while also providing a glimpse into how they can help answer the question, “what’s next?”

It’s also intentionally not a real vehicle that can be built, but more of a long-term proxy. We already know OEMs are experts in making cars, and our competency lies with material and chemical solutions. Our virtual car is like a playground for automakers to explore and realise all the possibilities to innovate using our products.

And the biggest challenge in developing the virtual car?

One of our biggest challenges was to make a vehicle that is not related to any specific brand or market, but one that is truly a “world’s car”. There is no branding to ensure the car is a blank slate from which customers can draw inspiration.

We consulted with markets in North America, Europe and Asia, and the overall feedback was that a subcompact SUV is the preferred model. With customer demands for certain types of vehicles or components we can show – through the virtual car – that BASF can deliver broad solutions to meet their needs.

The modular shape is also intentionally part of the design concept to offer customers a variety of entry points into the car. Customers can look at the car holistically or filter though the different segments for solutions to meet their requirements in a targeted way. For example, if a customer is looking at the fuel tank or battery packs, the virtual car can easily be switched from an internal combustion engine to an electric vehicle or filtered by solutions for e-mobility.

Did industry trends influence the virtual car?

When designing this virtual car, we took automotive industry trends and challenges into consideration. For example, we understand that the interior of a vehicle is becoming increasingly important as consumers are looking for a more comfortable and customisable cabin.

The virtual car shows how BASF can support transforming interior spaces, such as providing cushioning material to create softer passenger seats or NVH solutions to reduce unwanted sound interference in the cabin. We also like to show how our materials can be used in unusual applications, like the backrest of the seat, to help generate ideas for future products.

To encompass the entire mobility ecosystem, you’ll see there is equal weight given to the exterior and interior of the vehicle, as well as the powertrain and chassis.

With an extensive range of products and technical expertise, BASF is here to help customers develop answers to current automotive industry challenges and inspire new innovations for future mobility.

Editor: It is clear that the growth of our industry is greatly enhanced by inter-company and inter-industry cooperation, and BASF is truly at the forefront of such initiatives.

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