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The software influence on auto industry


Issue #127, Jan 22nd, 2022

The automotive industry continues to be influenced by software. Sony sees this as an opportunity for its entry into the industry, with electric vehicles (EVs) at the forefront of the shift from mechanics to electronics. According to The Economist, the automotive industry is one among few along with the metaverse and healthcare where the big tech companies are planning investments. Economic Times sees software and thermal management as the deciding factors for the real winner of the EV race between Hyundai and Tata Motors in the Indian auto market. Discount Tire Co. uses artificial intelligence to predict the demand for EV tires at specific locations. California state’s Department of Motor Vehicles will decide whether Tesla’s onboard software is ‘autonomous’ or not, and if so what steps such as driver training need to be provided. At the same time, customers are not happy to pay for software. Some car makers witness a backlash from customers for software features. Here are some interesting updates on how the software continues to influence the auto industry.

Sony’s EV driven by software, not mechanics

Sony is exploring the possibility of becoming a part of the auto industry’s biggest revolution in a century by entering the market for EVs. Sony’s executives Totoki and Kawanishi pondered the auto industry’s “biggest revolution in 100 years,” and concluded its key element was the shift from mechanics to electronics. Software would control automobiles, and this opened up Sony’s chances of becoming a winning player. – Nikkei Asia

Big tech investments in metaverse, cars, healthcare

Analysts reckon that somewhere between 5% and 20% of the tech giants’ massive R&D spending goes towards what, for the purposes of this article, we are calling “frontier technologies”: the metaverse, autonomous vehicles, health care, space, robotics, fintech, crypto and quantum computing. Overall, 9% of the investments made by the big tech companies are in cars and mobility. – The Economist

AI to predict EV tyre demand

The Covid-19 pandemic forced Discount Tire Co. to overhaul its information-technology systems around customer service and inventory management. That has left the company well-positioned to tackle the next big auto-market disruption: electric vehicles, according to the company’s chief information officer. Since deploying its new customer-services system, Discount Tire has reduced the time it takes to change a set of tires by roughly 30%, the company says. – WSJ

Software as the differentiator in the EV race

Hyundai Motor India plans to line up six battery EVs for India by 2028. Tata Motors plans to launch 10 electric cars by 2026. Besides benefiting from JLR’s EV know-how, Tata Motors can leverage tech prowess of TCS, Tata Technologies, and Tata Elxsi. HMIL can get a helping hand from Hyundai Mobis, LG Chem, Hyundai Powertech, and the parent organisation. – Economic Times

Tesla’s software – autonomous or not?

California’s Department of Motor Vehicles has opened a new review into Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” and other driver-assistance software as it seeks to determine whether it should consider the features “autonomous”. The review could carry major implications for the company, which has deployed beta software by that name to more than 12,000 vehicles on public roads without trained test drivers. The company’s driver-assistance features have come under the scrutiny of government regulators and safety experts as it has scaled up the ambitions of its software. – Washington Post

Customer backlash for auto software

Automakers have set some ambitious goals on the software front front: GM for example told investors it will generate $20 billion to $25 billion a year by 2030 with in-car software. The industry is playing catch-up with Tesla, which has been wowing owners for years with playful software features. Whether incumbents can generate the same sort of magic with their customers remains to be seen. According to a recent J.D. Power study, most drivers don’t bother to explore new tech in their cars. – Bloomberg