Published on June 16th, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Automotive’s NEW Bragging rights
Germany’s premium auto makers are at the center of the country’s global reputation for meticulous engineering. But with the expected shift in focus from a car’s body to its brains, the risk is that the expertise will accumulate in Silicon Valley or in China, rather than Germany’s carmaking regions of Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemburg.
“In the auto industry the battle will be not for horsepower but bragging rights will be ‘my car is more autonomous than your car’,” said Manuela Papadopol, director, global marketing automotive for Elektrobit, a software company now owned by Continental.
BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi are each making an effort to build a hub for automotive software and services. They clubbed together to buy digital map maker HERE from Nokia last year to create a neutral platform where smart cars can share data on road and traffic conditions.
BMW’s own recent hiring included a 200-strong digital innovation team in Chicago, most of whom had worked for Nokia, the Finnish mobile phone pioneer.
Among the areas Froehlich identified where BMW will still need partners is in cloud computing, the technology of storing data and software remotely and accessing it over the internet. Data gathered from a car’s onboard sensors will be combined with remote information, for example about weather and traffic, using next generation mobile networks, also known as 5G.
The ultimate aim would be to build as much expertise in-house as possible, although there could be mutual benefits from working with new outside suppliers.
“The thinking here is: they too have weaknesses and there may be some win win situations,” Froehlich said of potential new suppliers. “Nonetheless I need to build our own in-house competence in the next 5 to 6 years.”