Search engine outfit Google has ruled out becoming a vehicle manufacturer.
The company’s managing director for central and eastern Europe Philipp Justus told the Frankfurt auto show that the company was working on cars in partnership with the auto industry, but was not planning to become a car manufacturer.
Google has named auto industry veteran John Krafcik, a former CEO of Hyundai Motors America, as chief executive of its self-driving car project. The hiring of Krafcik is seen as a sign the tech giant is starting to look at the project as a potential and relevant business in the future.
Google’s pet project of driverless cars started in 2009 with an intention to revolutionise the car industry. However Justus said that it was not something Google could do alone. Google’s partners included automotive suppliers Bosch and zf friedrichshafen.
BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi are snapping up software experts as tech firms such as Google threaten to outflank them in the race to develop a self-driving car.
Software expertise has become a new battleground for automakers and tech firms as cars need lines of code to connect electric car motors to batteries, talk to smartphones or activate brakes when a radar system detects an obstacle ahead.
Over the air software updates for PCs and smartphones are ubiquitous but we’ll see them become common in cars in times to come.
That’s the prediction from IHS, a market research company that covers most major industries including automotive and tech.
IHS believes that over the air (OTA) software updates have the ability to reduce warranty costs, improve customer satisfaction and to add features to cars’ entertainment systems.
The company believes that cost savings from OTA software are set to grow from a market worth $2.7 billion this year to $35 billion in 2022.
Such updates will cover firmware, maps, apps, entertainment, telematics and electronic control units. Right now there are 1.2 million vehicles that have in-car mapping but that will grow to close to 32 million vehicles by 2022.
There’s some evidence that Mercedes-Benz has already started using OTA in its most recent telematics systems.
Colin Bird, who is an IHS senior analyst of software, apps and services in the automotive sector said that software expertise is now central to car original equipment manufacturers and bolstered by strong software development. “OTA updates have the ability to fundamentally transform the sales and customer retention models for OEMs by allowing these companies to maintain their relationship with customers directly,” he said.
In a move to save its perky bottom line, LG Electronics is to supply Honda and Porsche with in-car displays.
The company has been looking to auto business sales to counter weak sales at its mainstay television and smartphone units.
LG Electronics has started mass production of the Honda’s centre information displays, which will be placed in the console. It will start doing the same for Porsche in the first half of 2016.
LG Display is supplying the liquid crystal display panels. In the April-June quarter, LG’s new auto business, which involves various products including in-car displays and camera systems, accounted for 11.5 percent of overall sales in the April-June quarter.
LG Electronics is also working with BMW, General Motors and Mercedes Benz for research and development of centre information displays, but so far no products have arrived yet.