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Panasonic's software speeds development of electric vehicles

Company aims to sell more parts by participating from design stage

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  © Reuters

OSAKA -- Panasonic has developed software that may shorten the development cycle for electric vehicles by as much as half and provide an opening to supply components.

The Japanese company will offer to join with automakers from the design stage, using its system to model performance and estimate characteristics like power consumption and travel range so fewer prototypes need be manufactured and tested. By becoming involved in the development process, Panasonic hopes to create more opportunities to sell batteries and other components for electric vehicles to the world's automakers. The lowered development costs would promote the spread of electric vehicles, leading to even more opportunities for sales.

Panasonic developed the software in cooperation with Azapa, a Nagoya-based provider of support services for automotive technology development.

Azapa's predictive algorithms can estimate how the overall performance of the electric vehicle will change based on the performance of its different parts, providing accurate estimates of features like maximum speed and battery life at the design stage. This kind of information promises to help reduce the number of prototype iterations and shorten the overall development process by 30% to 50%.

Panasonic intends to improve the precision of the software as a general tool for developing electric vehicles and incorporate support for the different standards in the U.S., Europe and China.

With the adoption of technologies like autonomous driving, cars are becoming more complicated and taking more time to develop. In the past, automakers would order parts from suppliers based on repeated cycles of design and prototyping. But the suppliers now are increasingly involved in the development process themselves, participating in the design and placement of parts as systems integrators.

Germany's Robert Bosch and Continental are leaders in the market for automotive performance prediction, but Panasonic aims to make an early entrance in the field for electric vehicles.

The Japanese company is already a leading maker of automotive batteries, chargers and voltage transformers, and it is progressing with the development of motors and control equipment.

Panasonic's short-term goal for its automotive business is to boost sales by more than 50% to 2 trillion yen ($17.83 billion) from fiscal 2015 to fiscal 2018. The company expects the introduction of this software to have a synergistic effect for its businesses in the long-term growth fields of lithium-ion batteries and driver-assistance technologies.

(Nikkei)

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