SIM-Drive’s Business Model for EVs

By Kate
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“A corporation is a wealth-creating entity.
As such, naturally
It will aim to increase sales
And make a profit.
And yet
Even the most booming sales
And soaring profits
Will not win society’s respect.
For a company is judged
Not by the scale of its earnings
But by what it does with them.
How much well-being has
Its wealth created?”

–Soichiro Fukutake, Think Forward Moving Ahead

One company that has earned my respect is SIM-Drive.  I heard SIM-Drive’s President and CEO Dr. Shimizu speak at the Open Source eCar Conference a few weeks back.  He reminded me of a wise professor or enlightened monk.  So soft spoken, yet each concept shared was a jewel. 

If there’s a forerunner to the Electric Vehicle (EV) movement, Dr. Shimizu is it.  SIM-Drive is onto their 11th EV, so r-e-s-p-e-c-t for their commitment to making our sustainable transportation dreams real and viable. 

Yet perhaps what’s more interesting is their business model. (Please eject traditional business models from your mind now.) 

SIM-Drive’s mission and business model answer the same question:  “How to spread EV technology?”  But let me back peddle a little before I share the answer. 

Dr. Shimizu said that EV technology will never become widespread until it performs well.  These are the three key points:

  • Acceleration
  • Space inside the vehicle
  • Comfort

Searching for the right magic-three formula has been SIM-Drive’s mission for 30 years.  And they do not want to discover it alone!  Thus their business model, effective January 2010:

  1. A company, government or individual can pay SIM-Drive 200K€ to join their R&D team for 1 year.  Note that 1 year = 1 different EV project.  For the 2010 project year, 32 companies and 2 local governments ‘joined.’  SIM-Drive hopes to increase the numbers by 30 each year.
  2. SIM-Drive teaches you all they’ve learned about EVs.  Then you can take this knowledge and technology back to your company. Naturally during the process of making the EV prototype, you share your knowledge and experience.  Kind of an EV masters program.  
  3. The money contributed goes towards making the new prototype. 
  4. SIM-Drive benefits from new information, international friends, and the spread of technology.  Companies wishing to thereafter use SIM-Drive’s technology pay a small royalty fee.  
  5. Next phase: sharing manufacturing knowledge.

Dr. Shimizu explains on the SIM-Drive website:

“The purpose of our company is not to manufacture electric vehicles ourselves, but to provide the highest level of electric vehicle technology and information, at the lowest cost, to all those involved with electric vehicles.”

What I like about this is it’s not egotistical.  Sure, SIM-Drive gains knowledge, friends and royalties.  But their spirit and mission are far from the common ‘I want to take over the world’ approach. I don’t know of a more open business model in the automotive industry. 

What do you think about this?  An answer to our augmenting transportation challenges? 


Happy Holidays from DraftSight!

By Mark Lyons
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Twas the night before Christmas and all through Dassault,
The employees were ready and were all on the go.
The products have been planned and developed with care,
With hopes that customers soon would be there.

The engineers were nestled all snug in their beds,
With visions of improvements dancing in their heads.
And my manager from her home, and I on my computer,
Had just settled in, thanks to tele commuter.

When out in the field there arose a great clatter,
I sprang from my desk to see what was the matter.
Away to the DraftSight Community I flew like a flash
To meet community members who had also made the mad dash.

The blog, loaded with materials that members needed,
Gave the advice that they surely heeded.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
An iQuestion post that I could almost hear.

DraftSight available, so lively and free,
I knew in a moment it had to be for me.
More easily available than others the product came,
We whistled and shouted and called it by name

Now Facebook! Now, Likedin Now, YouTube and Twitter. On Mac! On Windows XP, Vista and even 7!
Cross platform availability, now that’s heaven.
To the top of Google, beyond the firewall,
Now Download, Download, Download all!

DraftSight allows you to read write and share,
So easy that managers shouldn’t even care.
Edit your drawings in dxf or dwg.
How in the world can this product be free?

With DraftSight available for free in Beta,
Away they flew to make changes to their data.
Then I heard them shout, as they worked through the night,
Free CAD for all and for all DraftSight!

Bad Knees? Good News!

By Tim
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Tim's sister Sarah

In June of this year, my 57-year-old sister, Sarah, had double knee implants. She has the scars to prove it as you would not believe that she has dual knee implants just by looking at her!

In a previous post, I mentioned that my 82-year-old dad has also had both of his knees replaced (twice). So, you can bet that I am trying to take extra care of my knees (think: whirpool, massage, extra vitamins). However, due to genetics and sports injuries there is no guarantee that I won’t need a knee implant at some point in my life.

It’s no wonder that our knees wear out—they bear five times our body weight with each step we take. Total Knee Arthroplasty (TKA), which replaces damaged or diseased joint surfaces of the knee with metal and plastic components, is performed about 580,000 times a year in the U.S. alone. It is currently the solution that provides the most relief to patients. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons calls knee replacement, “one of the most important surgical advancements of the 20th Century.”

Thankfully, researchers, like those at Smith & Nephew, are dedicated to improving the design of knee implants. Their goals are to make the artificial knees easier to implant while working better and lasting longer. In 2007 Smith & Nephew (the U.K.’s largest medical technology company) established the European Centre for Knee Research in Leuven, Belgium to drive TKA research and innovation. They have developed new knee replacements that have been designed to last 30 years, double the time of previous designs. You can view their commericial for their newest products on You Tube here.

Dr. Innocenti, Smith & Nephew

Recently, our communications team had a chance to interview the Centre’s project manager for Numerical Kinematics, Bernardo Innocenti, M.E., Ph.D. It’s pretty cool that they are using Abaqus FEA from SIMULIA to explore and improve their knee implant designs.

Dr. Innocenti kindly explained some of the details of their design and simulation process  to us. “When you replace a knee, you are trying to replicate the behavior of biological materials, like bones, cartilage and ligaments, with non-biological ones such as titanium, stainless steel and polyethylene. Abaqus FEA is fundamental in this game because it enables us to estimate rapidly and precisely the effects of different parameters in the design or performance…whether it is bone or metal or something more complicated like the viscoelasticity of soft tissues or polyethylene.”

This focused research and use of realistic simulation is certainly good news for people like my sister, my dad…and maybe even me! The report from my sister today (four months after surgery) is that she can walk through the mall to do her holiday shopping without the disabling knee pain, that is good news!

Check out the complete Smith & Nephew case study and many other customer stories on Realistic Human Simulation in the latest issue of SIMULIA INSIGHTS magazine.

Please join me  in raising a toast to better knee implants and pain free holiday shopping!


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