Software makes the difference: Page 2 of 2

December 22, 2020 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Software makes the difference
In future generations of vehicles, software will play a more important differentiating role than the hardware. Some OEMs, such as BMW, Daimler or Volkswagen, therefore are busy to develop their own operating system. Does that make sense?

One central aspect of this is the ability to update software and functions over the air (OTA). This not only serves to repair any software errors, but also enables new business models - for example, the temporary activation of additional performance reserves for a fee. Here, too, most imaginable functions are not even on the horizon.

BMW is already able to update appropriately equipped cars via OTA; an update campaign is currently running for 750,000 vehicles. With 5G and the new operating system, such updates will be much faster and agile (more like what we are used from our smartphones), and BMW also wants to make many more functions updateable in the future. This means a paradigm shift not only for BMW, but also for other manufacturers: while today cars are designed around the hardware and thus their range of functions is fixed once and for all, in the future cars will be able to adapt their character, their behaviour, to a large extent to the user's wishes even after production by being able to be equipped with new functions. The OEMs are mainly driven by Tesla, whose cars already have all these capabilities – natively, by design.

An important competitor for the German car industry is also Google, which is hunting for customers with its own Android Auto operating system. However, many car manufacturers - by no means only BMW - fear that they could lose part of their business to Google. However, no one talks openly about it, not even BMW's Christoph Grote. Instead, Grote cites data protection and privacy as reasons. "Privacy is very important," says Grote. According to BMW's data protection philosophy, vehicle and user data must never be passed on without customer consent.

However, BMW cannot do without Google entirely: as with other OEMs, customers can mirror the user interface of their Android smartphone to the vehicle and thus use many smartphone apps in the infotainment and navigation screen of the car (with Apple's iOS, of course, this also works). But, according to BMW's Grote, Google is only to come on board as a "guest"; the Bavarians do not intend to use Google Automotive Services at all. The reason: the operating system, like all the software, should define the brand. The software thus becomes part of the indispensable brand core.

It's the same at Daimler and Volkswagen, by the way.

Related articles:

BMW announces major update for its OS7 operating system

BMW puts R&D think thank into operation

BMW plans dedicated platform for battery-electric cars

Audi introduces "Functions on Demand“

Daimler, Nvidia co-develop software-defined vehicle architecture

EB rolls software platform for next-gen E/E vehicle architectures

Volkswagen setting off into the E-era

ZF rolls automotive middleware layer

TTTech throws its hat into the car OS ring

Vehicle E/E-Architecture: Reduce to the Max


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