We met Professor Johann Tomforde, Managing Partner of TEAMOBILITY GmbH, at this year’s ECF (European Caravan Federation) meeting in Stockholm. His company is a specialist in mobility system solutions and sustainable business models in the areas of auto-mobility, transport and digital networking. UCCON (Universal Chassis for Customised Operations and New mobility) is the TEAMOBILITY’s solution for an ultra-low-emission light commercial vehicle of tomorrow.
Words Antonio Mazzucchelli
portrait photo Enrico Bona
According to the study presented by Professor Johann Tomforde, the automotive industry is facing some big challenges. Social and political challenges, such as the CO2 limits and the Paris agreement on the climate action plan 2050, are affecting mobility. At the same time, technological challenges are creating ambitious goals for future mobility, such as: powertrain systems, a scalable and universal chassis platform, automatic & autonomous driving, AI and Robotics, the World Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) and the new Real Driving Emissions (RDE). There are also specific concerns for Leisure Mobility, such as access restrictions to City areas, air pollution, automated driving and the total weight of the RV or car/caravan/trailer combination. How will this influence the caravan industry in the next ten years? “There is a clear connection with the megatrends: connected, automated, multimodal shared and electric. Digital nomads, for me, is a very important group of customers in the future. The original vanlife pioneers were the surfers of the sixties. The new generation is always mobile and connected. It’s more than just hipster caravanning, instead the name for this group is ‘modern vanlifers’ or ‘digital nomads’. Flexible working is changing the game and this new generation of users looks for rolling homes and co-working spaces, and that is a big opportunity for all these vans and motorcaravans” said Professor Johann Tomforde. “When we consider four core target groups: the traditional 60+, young families, sports and fun tourists, and working nomads, we think that one potential new market could be autonomous driving in the top luxury motorhome segment; another important market for modern digital nomads are co-working, multipurpose motorhomes.”
New mobility solutions require more than just a different powertrain
UCCON (Universal Chassis for Customised Operations and New mobility) by TEAMOBILITY is a universally applicable platform chassis for electric vehicles. It creates the possibility for a resource-saving lifecycle spanning three model generations as only the bodywork structure and the interior components have to be replaced, so ensures a huge reduction in both costs and emissions during production. “In the past four years we analysed more than 15 transportation sectors and concluded that there are three main points to focus on for future chassis developments: brand, model and powertrain. One solution is our UCCON project (Universal Chassis for Customised Operations and New mobility), which is an innovative platform and cockpit concept based on a universal chassis for customized operations and new mobility,” said Professor Johann Tomforde. The innovative platform concept consists of a crash absorbing “boat-shaped” platform optimized for an offset crash (typically, 80 to 90 percent of all accidents). Its lightweight design includes extruded aluminium profiles and several segments carbon structure or light steel structure. Another very important feature is that it has 30 to 50 percent more load capacity. A typical six metre long transporter needs 2.5 metres from the front bumper to the rear seat of the driver: a long distance used for nothing. The UCCON concept with its innovative platform needs only 1.65 metres so gives 30 to 50 percent more load capacity and space behind the driver cab. The UCCON’s ‘All-in-one Ecosystem’ gives the best prospects for independent leisure mobility, as all-in-one means optimal integration of ultra-low emission drive systems for future mobility with a universal platform design. It has enough space for hybrid powertrains, for fuel cells, for natural gas, bio fuel and others. “For me, it is very important that the industry is planning what kind of chassis is the best for the next 10, 15, or 20 years, and all the new steps in technology required for the powertrains. The IKV-AXMOT engine is a prototype with a diameter of 230 mm and a power from 100 to 120 KW. Its minimum volume requirements and low noise emissions make it a perfect candidate for plug-in hybrid solutions, and perfect for using for motorhomes,” added Professor Johann Tomforde.
Innovation of the LCV cockpit and seating system
“A flexible chassis allows for changes in the setup and layout of cockpits, which is a key requirement for the introduction of automated driving. It could be a typical cockpit with a steering wheel, or we can have a joystick and a rotating seating system – or no steering wheel: the driver is no longer a driver, but could be a steward of the vehicle instead. The special seat system we created is ergonomic, ultra safe and variable for the next generation cockpit, and ideal for receiving a protective partition shield for drivers. UCCON is today’s answer to the needs of future transportation and caravanning mobility.” said Professor Johann Tomforde.