Read more of this series:

Part 1: Here are the keys to driving epic change in the auto industry

Part 3: How to set up your automotive ecosystem for success

Digital twin: Nothing new, right? It’s been an integral part of the auto manufacturing and procurement for years.

What if I told you there’s much more to it than that? That once you combine digital twin with blockchain, its value extends far beyond the factory floor? Here are five use cases to prove it.

Think about digital twin externally, not internally

People tend to pigeonhole digital twin within manufacturing. Instead, they see CASE (Connectivity, Autonomous, Shared and Electric) as the primary force reshaping the value chain around mobility.

Here’s the thing: CASE relies on digital twins—the trusted vehicle identities they represent and the digital thread data they generate over time. A typical modern vehicle runs on 100 million lines of code, twice the amount used to run the Large Hadron Collider, the largest machine in the world. That number could reach a billion by 2025. As more tech companies enter the field to develop CASE-enabled experiences, it’s increasingly important to securely share data from a diversity of sources (people, vehicles, devices, road infrastructure and partners) over the vehicle’s lifecycle.

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CASE relies on digital twins—the trusted vehicle identities they represent and the digital thread data they generate over time

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Last month, my colleague Rich Meszaros outlined the solution: sharing digital thread data through blockchain and multiparty systems. By bringing digital twin outside the plant and onto the road, we empower trusted vehicle identities to transact securely out in the world. Only then can we fully realize the promise of the new mobility ecosystem.

Under this model, OEMs become more connected to the car and driver than ever, collaborating to create new experiences and revenue opportunities that are out of reach today.

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Use case #1: Supply chain — Cradle-to-grave component tracking

Instead of copying and verifying information across silos of numerous suppliers and the OEM, multiparty systems like blockchain provide a shared line of sight into data, as well as its activity history. Naturally, this level of transparency and trust lends itself to tracking-and-tracing.

As a part moves place to place, partners add data about its location, condition and environment to its digital thread on a blockchain. The ecosystem can then watch for disruptions and react with agility. As more sensitive electronics make their way into cars, transparency across supply chain and logistics partners provides early insight into potential delivery delays or production condition issues that may impact the manufacturing line.

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By bringing digital twin outside the plant and onto the road, we empower trusted vehicle identities to transact securely out in the world. Only then can we fully realize the promise of the new mobility ecosystem.

The metals and mining industry has seen tremendous impact using multiparty systems to track cobalt in the manufacture of electronic vehicle batteries. By tracking the ore to its source in the mine, manufacturers can verify the point of origin and labor practices therein.

Use case #2: Software lifecycle management

Supply chains need to manage software, too. Infotainment, engine management, safety monitoring, autonomous driving—vehicle features increasingly rely on it. No longer just hardware, the automobile is now a collection of software-connected devices on wheels.

All this software has to be updated and managed across the vehicle’s lifecycle. Today’s supply chain, however, isn’t fit to handle that kind of complexity. Challenges include:

  • Multiple sources: Software is created by an evolving array of players from outside the traditional automotive ecosystem.
  • Safety/security: A single bug can impact the entire car, causing material problems on the road. Procurement departments haven’t yet adapted to thinking in this way.
  • Accountability: OEMs are accountable for vehicle software the moment it leaves the facility. Outdated software could present serious regulation and compliance issues: Laws that require OEMs to disclose software modifications are already in effect both in the US and Europe. Moreover, what happens to custom software when the vehicle is resold?
  • Trapped capital: The software layer compounds capital hanging in the air, representing years of profit locked up in accounts receivable at any given time.

Recall that the Range Rover in my driveway has more than enough coding power to smash an atom.

Managing software across vehicle systems requires tight collaboration between suppliers and OEMs to enable seamless OTA (over the air) updates. A multiparty system digital twin—the vehicle's trusted identity—makes it possible. Each update is added to the digital thread, providing transparency into onboard software inventory, versioning and update history as well as a critical audit record for OEMs, owners, fleet operators and even regulators throughout the vehicle’s lifecycle.

Use case #3: New vehicle data and commercial services

Recall that the Range Rover in my driveway has more than enough coding power to smash an atom.

Once a vehicle’s digital twin comes alive on a blockchain, that potential is unleashed. The car becomes a merchant, able to buy and sell its own features as well as those of the road, spawning a host of value-added aftermarket services.

  • Features as a service – OEMs profit from features like heated seats and Lane Keeping Assist only when the original owner buys the vehicle. With digital thread and blockchain, OEMs can turn them on and off with every new owner (or renter). This subscription/pay-per-use model allows monetization of vehicle hardware and software over and over again without driving up manufacturing costs.
  • New digital marketplaces – Secure, in-vehicle transactions provide a range of new entertainment, media, retail and banking experiences. Imagine a car that can locate, reserve and pay for parking on its own. Living in Texas, I pay extra for the express lane—why not buy a green light, too? When the car, the bank and the municipal traffic system can collaborate on digital thread data in near real time, on-the-go transactions like this become possible.
  • Monetizing dataTrusted real-time data can fuel autonomous usage-based insurance models and even allow the car to capitalize on ordinary events: Say you need gas. Your car broadcasts to nearby stations, which bid to fill your tank. The winner then pays a transaction fee to the OEM. It all rides on the ecosystem’s ability to provide the right parties with access to the right data at just the right time. 

Use case #4: Maintenance

Those automatic upgrades on your phone? They’ll soon be common in cars, too.

As Tesla proved in 2018 with an overnight upgrade to its Model 3 brakes, over-the-air (OTA) updates can cut costs, mitigate future recalls and add value to both vehicle and brand. Later that year, the automaker temporarily upgraded the electric range on several models to aid customers fleeing Hurricane Michael--resulting in a permanent upgrade to brand affinity.

What makes it possible? The digital thread of data flowing through vehicles and devices. In 2018, Gartner estimated that businesses and consumers could save $1 trillion each year in asset maintenance by using Internet of Things (IoT) through digital twins.

Multiparty system data sharing also brings seamless maintenance to warranty repairs. Today, after eligibility is verified and the repair is made, the dealer submits a claim to the OEM. In a recall, the OEMs pass that on to the supplier. With a trusted, blockchain-based maintenance ledger, the parts do all the talking, drastically reducing cycle time. 

Use case #5: Vehicle ownership transfer

With the collective transparency of multiparty systems, this can be completely reimagined.

As the single source of truth, the digital twin speaks for itself, proving its condition, provenance of parts, accident history and more on the blockchain for all authorized parties to see. Add a trusted reliability score, and you have cascading effects on the new-car market as leasing prices become more competitive. 

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It all rides on the ecosystem’s ability to provide the right parties with access to the right data at just the right time.

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Paper-heavy, multiparty processes like bills of sale, extended warranty, financing, and titling and registration could be streamlined, if not replaced, by seamless, trusted vehicle data-enabled experiences. Even the custom software settings in Use Case #3 could follow you to your next car, maximizing resale value and customer experience.

An open road

Together, digital twin/thread and multiparty systems will unlock a new world on wheels. OEMs have already come together to establish a data standard for vehicle identity through The Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI), and the technology is proven. OEMs have the tools to reinvent experiences and create the mobility services that will drive revenue in the future—you simply need to take them out for a spin.

Read more of this series:

Part 1: The keys to driving epic change in the auto industry 

Part 3: How to set up your automotive ecosystem for success

Disclaimer: This document is intended for general informational purposes only does not take into account the reader’s specific circumstances, and may not reflect the most current developments. Accenture disclaims, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, any and all liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information in this presentation and for any acts or omissions made based on such information. Accenture does not provide legal, regulatory, audit, or tax advice. Readers are responsible for obtaining such advice from their own legal counsel or other licensed professionals. Accenture, its logo, and New Applied Now are trademarks of Accenture.

This document makes descriptive reference to trademarks that may be owned by others. The use of such trademarks herein is not an assertion of ownership of such trademarks by Accenture and is not intended to represent or imply the existence of an association between Accenture and the lawful owners of such trademarks.

Brian Irwin

Managing Director – North America Automotive Lead

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