Steel E-Motive and Ricardo have unveiled the ‘exterior styling vision’ for their fully autonomous ride-hailing, ride-sharing vehicle designed to showcase the benefits of using steel for global mobility-as-a-service.

The vehicle design has been optimised to include technology deployable by 2030 and meets requirements for inner city driving needs. The design concept comprises both a compact, four-passenger vehicle, and a version with space for more passengers and luggage for out of town journeys.

Using advanced high-strength steel for the design delivers aesthetic, safety, comfort and accessibility benefits. The steel is applied in a pattern that is part of the external visual design rather than being hidden behind outer panels, and the glazing on all sides of the vehicle, including the roof, offers passengers great views of the cityscape.

The steel will enable the engineering team to meet operational, safety and environment requirements: for example, its strength and formability supports a unique low height coverless and integrated battery case, and flat-floor interior which also aids better accessibility.

A claimed unique rocker design offers superior crush force and protection for occupants and high voltage battery internals.

Steel also delivers cost, weight and sustainability benefits over a conventional battery pack using alternative materials while meeting all current and future anticipated safety standards and legislation.

Accessibility is also at the core of the vehicle design. The requirement for low step-in height has driven the primary structure of the vehicle and is enabled by the novel battery case. A very wide door opening provides ample access for people and goods, while the unique door structure provides reduced outswing to the roadside.

The vehicle design also features battery electric propulsion, Level 5 autonomy and four wheel steering for maximum functionality and manoeuvrability. The design and engineering reflect likely use in a mixed environment where both manual and autonomous vehicles are operating. Vehicle specifications are geared to high volume manufacture with vehicle producers, fleet operators and ride hailing users in mind.