The PPV as Innovative Solution for the Automobile Trend Car Sharing

Personal Public Vehicle (PPV)

22. January 2019 | Engineering Service

Shared mobility is currently regarded as one of the most important topics in the automobile industry. Like all future urban mobility concepts, it requires close integration with social future research. For new vehicle car sharing concepts, recording all factors that involve costs and analyzing them in regards to their influence on cost effectiveness and vehicle construction is critical. FEV, share2drive, and the FH Aachen (University of Applied Sciences), together work on the future vehicle classes of personal public vehicles (PPV) as a means of transportation and an interface between public and personal transportation.


The urban mobility trait (UMT),used in the context of shared mobility,describes relevant forms of urban mobility services from the perspective of individual mobility needs and assesses business models with special vehicle concepts. (Figure 1).

Fig. 1: Various personal mobility requirements according to the UMT

From this, it becomes clear that mobility services with free-floating car sharing consist of sharing vehicles that companies provide for their customers, who function as vehicle drivers. Generally, only a small number of people are transported by free-floating car sharing and the driving distances are generally less than eight kilometers. This differs from ride selling, which includes companies such as Uber or Lyft. For these services, private individuals offer chauffeur services with their own vehicles or vehicles leased through the service provider themselves. Ultimately, customer user needs decide which mobility service they make use of. In addition to the cost of the trip, the time required for users to reach their destination is important.The convenience of the service coupled with comfort and the potential added value experienced, such as being able to use the trip time for personal or business tasks, are also important (Figure 2).

New approaches are necessary for transportation services. Share2drive GmbH, headquartered in Aachen, Germany, is carefully following this innovative approach. This young company was formed as a spin-off from the Aachen University of Applied Sciences. Their goal is to provide advanced mobility concepts in the area of car sharing. One of the main parts of the business model is the PPV – a vehicle that was specially developed in cooperation with FEV and its subsidiaries for car sharing use.

Marketable vehicles for shared mobility

New mobility services with UMT have a disruptive influence on the existing value-added structure within the automotive sector. This is due to actors from the ICT and energy industries forging ahead on the mobility market, bolstered with new business models and established mobility service providers. At the same time, large Tier 1 suppliers in the automotive supplier industry are reorienting themselves to react to market changes, including emerging vehicle manufacturers. In addition to further diversification of vehicle models for end customers, we can expect OEMs to increasingly focus on vehicles for mobility service providers [1]. Various studies forecast that at least 10 percent of vehicles worldwide will be used for mobility services by 2030 [2].

The competition for car sharing vehicle models is apparent. Whether these vehicles are designed according to the concept of “sharing a vehicle” or those of “sharing a ride”, “driver on board” or “be the driver” will influence the vehicle’s UMT. Vehicle concepts are only marketable if they have solid market penetration and an attractive total cost-for-ride. For a new vehicle concept, this means that all factors involving costs must be recorded and analyzed. This includes the vehicles themselves, their maintenance, and expenditures for infrastructure, ICT andactual operation. These costs must be represented in a profitable business model and it is important to consider the influence of vehicle construction for each of the stated factors.

The PPV as a new approach for shared cars

The vehicles, including electric solutions, which have been used for urban mobility services thus far only fulfill their purpose to a limited extent because they were originally designed for end customer use. Fleet operators only make minor modifications to the vehicles, especially in the area of access opportunities. However, the focus on special requirements for urban mobility operators and vehicle users based on car sharing concepts is increasing. At the same time, vehicles for new mobility services in a multimodal world must be understood as “rolling devices.” Therefore, it is logical to develop the requirement profile of a “perfect” sharing vehicle from a mobility concept and business model, not by a conventional customer analysis as is normally done. These sorts of requirements came from car sharing operations and joint research from the Aachen University of Applied Sciences andCambio Aachen, as well as from publications from the German Federal Association of CarSharing e.V. (Figure 2).

Fig. 2: Vehicle requirements derived from mobility and business model needs; requirements came from car sharing operations in the joint research from the Aachen University of Applied Sciences and Cambio Aachen, as well as from publications from the German Federal Association of CarSharing e.V. 

The thought behind the concept of the PPV is to develop a realistic vehicle that does not follow the current trend of “weightless” show cars, but that is a timely answer to the shared mobility requirements of the future. The vehicle specifications created for the PPV 1.0 address European homologation. In package engineering, the development process follows a unified representation of the package information according to the European Car Manufactures Information Exchange Group (ECIE) Standard. This makes it possible to compare the ergonomic and technical vehicle packages across manufacturers. During hardware concept development, a modular, easily adjusted interior seat box is used to verify the challenging interior specifications. Functional goals, such as for crashes, are secured by appropriate simulations according to the finite element method with a program called LS-Dyna.

Dimensions and structure: The greatest challenge comes from the mobility standard of designing a vehicle in the M1 class. In this class, only vehicle lengths of under 2.5 m (diagonal parking allowed) and a width of approximately 1.7 m are allowed. At the same time, three people have to fit into the PPV 1.0 in order to serve 95 percent of all conceivable trips. The standard that the interior should offer a friendly, spacious interior is an additional design impediment. PPV is able to fulfill this challenge with a one-box design that includes three seat occupancy (1+2 seater) in one row. The power train is coordinated and highly integrated as an efficient package with the floor assembly. A new body shell concept allows the windshield to be placed significantly farther forward. An important design element for this is the restored A pillar and very large glass panels. Another component of the structural concept is the driver door. A new swinging or sliding door concept guarantees that opening the door is a first-class experience, even in narrow parking spots.

Design development: Before the design is actually developed, the design DNA of the PPV 1.0 is defined in an interdisciplinary development group. To do so, widely varying urban spheres of association are created first and approximately 250 draft designs are developed based on these associations. The drafts, which will be consolidated into two different concepts from the preferred association, will then lead to the final concept decision. After this step, the design is developed in a typical digital CAS (computer-aided styling) process before the targeted design DNA can be implemented into the final design. In summary, PPV can be referred to as the world’s smallest self-driving bus.

The design language of the interior concept is very different from the exterior and relies heavily on the reduced communication DNA from the bus design and the IT world. The number of operation elements for the PPV 1.0 was reduced to an absolute minimum and the focus was put on intuitive operation. The driver seat is characterized by a modern, digital user interface, and the climate control design is based more on the urban spaces mindset and not on classic vehicle construction. An interior cleaning concept optimized to the cost of each trip, appropriate variability from the two-seater bench, omitting joints that collect filth, surfaces from boat construction, a spray-on floor from railway vehicle design, and consistently omitting “unnecessary” storage areas distinguish the interior as genuine car sharing useable space.

The drive: The drive concept of the PPV 1.0 is mainly based on 400V technology that is well developed and absolutely suitable for electronically driven urban vehicles. The technical data is completely competitive with 45 kW of drive power in the front, a maximum speed of 120 km/h, and a battery pack of nearly 20 kW/h. The range is at 80 km, even under extreme conditions, and is verified by a specially developed car sharing cycle. According to the share2drive business model, this dependably reaches the approximately two hours of operation that are required daily. Flex share from share2drive guarantees that the wireless charging processes will not fail. The conceptual decision of the tandem electrical motor design with two small-diameter electrical machines in the front end is based on the advantages of the crash design, as well as the demand to provide an agile city vehicle.


Safety requirement: In addition to the numerous measures in place to avoid accidents, the PPV 1.0 is characterized by superior crash safety (Figure 3). The special challenge of concept development is mainly the design of the frontal crash requirements. The very short frontend forces the development into a radical structural design with four load path planes and controlled deformation behavior. With a total deformation of approximately 350 mm, a mean crash impulse of 31 g with approximately 60 mm of firewall penetration is reached. Deformations were kept away from the centrally designed battery structure in side collisions. Crash resistance is complied with almost 60 kN for the roof crush resistance test according to the FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) 216.

Fig. 3: Crash security of the PPV for the EU market and for additional urban accident scenarios 


Production advantages: The body shell is a FlexBody, which is a body construction kit that allows the development of profile-heavy, lightweight bodies with a hybrid design for vehicle projects with less than 10,000 production vehicles per year. Body structures can be developed and prepared for production in a very short time with FlexBody by a standardized process, as well as stringent division of the profiles and nodes (Figure 4). The greatest advantage is the very low investment. Construction methods with steel-intensive, and extremely high-strength materials are primarily used for the floor assembly of the FlexBody for the PPV 1.0. Aluminum solutions primarily dominate in the frontend and in the structure. A ladder-integrated frame protects the centrally designed battery. The static torsional stiffness of the 140 kg body is at a high level, with a lightweight index of approximately 3. The body shell is produced in what are called Innofix single shot fixtures and is designed for using a newly developed injection gluing procedure. 7,000 PPVs are planned to be produced annually in a two shift operation.

Fig. 4: Structural concept – FlexBody as a multi-material lightweight body (source: Imperia) 

The PPV as solution for the mobility of tomorrow

Market development of new mobility solutions offers an interesting potential for concepts that merge mobility needs, new business models, and vehicle construction. The strong response to the PPV 1.0 offers an answer to future mobility needs in a shared economy until 2020, as a special vehicle solution has already initiated the PPV 2.0 “SVEN”.

In classic vehicle construction, the quickly advancing development of autonomous driving benefits customers with improved comfort and safety. However, autonomous driving functions greatly exceed this in a shared mobility world. In urban areas, they make the mobility of the population and its logistical implementation possible.

[1] Kaas, H.W.; et al.: Automotive Revolution – Perspective Towards 2030. How the Convergence of_Disruptive TechnologyDriven Trends Could Transform the Auto Industry. McKinsey & Company, 2017
[2] McKinsey & Company: Carsharing & Co.: 2030_über zwei Billionen Dollar Umsatzpotenzial. Pressemitteilung vom 09.03.2017
[3] Anthrakidis, A.; Jahn, R.; Ritz, T.; et al.: Urbanes eCarSharing in einer vernetzten Welt. SteinbeisEdition, 2013