The automobile industry has incorporated a new challenge in recent years: to offer the customer not only an efficient, spacious and reliable vehicle, but also a technologically advanced one. But this challenge contains a very intense fight in the background.
The call software career it is more intense than ever in a sector such as the automotive industry, which until a few years ago has maintained a prudent safety distance from technology.
However, in a market like the current one, in which large infotainment screens have become a trend and the customer demands cutting edge technology to perform all kinds of operations from the vehicle, car manufacturers are being forced to enter quicksand. Or get out of your comfort zone, as they say now.
To understand the reason why vehicle manufacturers have been forced to partially reconvert themselves into technology companies, it is necessary to remember the relevance that Tesla has acquired in the market.
And it is that the manufacturer founded by Elon Musk is not only the leader of the electric revolution and one of the most profitable on the current scene, but bases much of that success on its status as a technological reference in the sector.
Tesla has been the first to exploit the technological concept of updating its product periodically to add extra value as time goes by. Something that not only reduces its depreciation, but also gives the customer exactly what he wants.
This too It’s something that Apple and Android offer with CarPlay and Automotive, applications that increasingly integrate more functions related to the vehicle. Apple has even announced that it will soon be possible to pay at gas stations without getting out of the car and from the infotainment system itself.
Mercedes knows well that traditional manufacturers are losing the technological battle against Tesla, Apple and Android, as they do not have the necessary resources to compete with the unlimited resources or the high knowledge that they possess.
Aiming to bridge the gap and stand at the forefront, Mercedes has launched the Electric Software Hub, a factory of 200 million euros exclusively dedicated to the integration and development of software in their vehicles.
With its software director Magnus Oestberg at the helm, the ESH of the German brand aims to accelerate its transformation and become a leader in electrification and technology associated with vehicles.
And it is vital in this project the creation of its own operating system, the MB-OSwhich should place Mercedes in a competitive position in this new era of the software-defined vehicle that Tesla unquestionably leads, and in which Apple and Android threaten to keep most of the pie thanks to their dominance in this field. .
Until now, manufacturers have tried mediocre results make use of their own systems, but from a position of clear inferiority. Examples of this are the General Motors fiasco, when in 2017 it launched its own system to pay from the car at service stations, which had to close shortly after.
It is a fact that, at present, the systems developed by car manufacturers are often not liked by users, which has made Tesla, Apple and Android monopolize more and more power and influence in buyer decision making.
Another added problem is that car manufacturers enter a delicate area from a legal point of view, as Ford recently found when it was involved in a patent conflict.
In the world of MB-OS, Mercedes will control (but not necessarily do) the software: all chips and functions. Hardware and software will be provided by partners like Nvidia and other vendors, but the system’s intellectual property will be owned by Mercedes and will be upgradeable by Mercedes, much as Tesla and other electric vehicle startups already do.
In addition, Mercedes wants to significantly increase the update cycles, which would help generate a part of the financial return on investment. Like Tesla, Mercedes aims to offer owners the option of buy features after sale. For example, improved autonomous driving.
Right now, the competition is defined by who will develop the software to power the big screens, who will control the data flowing from the vehicle and customers on board, and who will generate revenue as the vehicles roll down the road.
And there is one thing where automakers have an advantage over mobile phone makers: are the guardians of critical vehicle electronic systemswhich are subject to extensive government security regulations and hardware durability requirements that are much more stringent than those of the smartphone industry.
Reuters | Mercedes
Photos: Mercedes | Tesla