Autodesk’s automotive design solutions embrace the connected, electric vehicle future

Categories: Product Design & Manufacturing
Tags: automation digital-transformation extended-reality transportation

Everything you know about car design is about to change

We see stories daily about how the automotive industry is transitioning from the internal combustion engine to more sustainable electric vehicles (EVs). What you may not realize is how much this will change the appearance of vehicles and how you experience your drive.

When you no longer need space under the hood for the engine, and when the powertrain and gas tank are removed, you create space to rethink the shape of vehicles, the driver’s orientation, and the entire driving experience. This is a sea change for automotive design.

Stock photo of ICE architecture

Typical internal combustion engine architecture.

Electric evolution  

EVs transform automotive design because conventional design involves a bigger footprint. As design embraces autonomous driving, we ultimately may even see traditional driver-focused components like the steering wheel and pedals eliminated. Together, these elements comprise a lot of space in the vehicle – and without them, there are exciting opportunities to explore new design concepts that prioritize comfort, entertainment, and social interaction. The user experience in a vehicle can now be fundamentally different. Imagine moving to your destination in an extension of your living room or using the vehicle as a sleeping cabin for a longer journey.  


Stock photo of skateboard EV platform

Electric vehicle platform, also known as the “skateboard.”

“User experience” or “UX” may not be a term you hear day-to-day, but the software, mobile electronics, or appliances you use have likely been shaped by experience designers. User experience is how design teams envision and create products or software that are meaningful. UX considers how the user will interact with the product or system. We see this with our smart phones, where software in recent years has evolved to be much more efficient and user-friendly, even predicting what users want to do next.  

The EV transformation opens up possibilities for interactive visual displays, providing information about road or weather conditions ahead, calendars, landmarks, and driver assistance information. We’re already seeing this on the roads in many vehicles.     

Automotive designers are now also including design elements in their vehicles that create intuitive and user-focused experiences like AI voice assistance for infotainment, charging stations, and fatigue detection. Add to that seamless connectivity and immersive digital experiences within the vehicle and you have a completely new interior.  

Stock photo of future interior interactive driver experience

Rendering of a potential future interior driver experience.

Interior innovation

We caught a glimpse of this future at this year’s Automotive Innovation Forum (AIF) in Frankfurt, where many of the world’s top automotive manufacturers shared how they use Autodesk technology.   

Known for his innovative car designs with manufacturers like Renault, Ford, Skoda, SEAT, CUPRA and Nio, Joaquin Garcia spearheads Italdesign’s commitment to sustainability in mobility. As head of design, Garcia shared their Climb-E concept that was designed using Autodesk tools. This is a remarkable autonomous mobility vehicle (note that we’re not even calling them ‘cars’ anymore!) that fundamentally reimagines private transportation. It can transport you and deliver personal or medical services directly to your door, even if that door is a condominium tower.   

Inside the vehicle, the traditional dashboard and steering wheel are gone, and passengersenjoyan immersive 360-degree video experience. You could take it out on the town with your friends and have a karaoke party in the vehicle while enroute.  

The Climb-E was designed in collaboration with the Schindler Group, a leader in the elevator, escalator and moving walkways sector, and Politecnico di Torino’s Department of Architecture and Design, and Interateneo Department of Land Science, Design and Policy.  

Rendering of several views of the Italdesign Climb-E mobility vehicle

Interior renderings of Italdesign’s Climb-E concept vehicle.

Rendering of the Climb-E mobility vehicle

Exterior rendering of the Climb-E concept vehicle.

In addition to the transformative impact electrification of vehicles will have on automotive design, electrification sets the stage for drastic improvements to the sustainability of transportation. The shift to EVs increases the focus on sustainable and eco-friendly materials, particularly lightweight and recycled materials that will enhance a vehicle’s efficiency and reduce environmental impact.

Tailored technology

As established vehicle companies explore EVs and new spatial opportunities, and new startups are establishing their brands, Autodesk is focused on evolving and adapting our technologies to best support vehicle design and engineering.

We incorporate technologies like virtual reality (VR), Universal Scene Description (USD), augmented reality (AR), and generative design into our software. We’re tailoring our solutions to ensure seamless integration between software applications and our customers’ creative ecosystems.

As the industry evolves, so do our tools. We now leverage AI algorithms and machine learning to automate repetitive tasks and assist creative design exploration and optimization. Providing intelligent suggestions means designers keep their focus on the key aspect of their work: creativity.

Combined image showing the new Autodesk Alias and VRED 2024 user interface

The Autodesk Alias and VRED 2024 new user interface.

How does that design workflow look? It starts with Alias, which enables designers and engineers to create, modify, and detail 3D concepts and models within the same software, protecting the integrity of design intent from conception through production.   

In parallel, VRED enables decision makers to see progress and make design decisions as the project progresses. This ensures feedback exchange and iteration cycles, streamlining communication and decision making.   

Bringing it all together, ShotGrid provides proven, best-in-class process management and review capabilities. It was built for collaboration among large teams across multiple locations from its origins in games, film and video production. Its cloud-based, scalable infrastructure can accommodate the needs of automakers with global operations while supporting users’ creative workflows.  

Electric evolution revolution. Interior innovation. Tailored technology. By supporting customers in these transformations, Autodesk’s design studio solution helps elevate the collaboration, agility, and innovation of this industry. We can’t wait to see what comes next.