PART 2: Software-Defined Architecture Scales OEM Opportunities: The Automotive Industry Moves Closer to Folding into Driver’s Digital Lifestyle

March 22, 2019

By Oddy Khamharn
Sr. Director of Automotive Sales and Product Planning at Chamberlain Group

The new car smell is no longer what gets people excited to brag about their newly purchased vehicle. It’s taken a backseat to, “Look what my car can do.”

As I outline in part one of this series, “Mass Customization and Seamless Connectivity,” to be “new” in the eyes of the prospective buyer, the automotive OEM must do more: provide more personalization, and scalability. A paradigm shift from hardware-centric to software-centric architecture is taking place so that OEMs, Tier 1, and pure-play tech can take advantage of what has become the state of the art in consumer electronics: internet connectivity, cloud computing, swarm intelligence, and over-the-air (OTA) feature updates.

OEMs are looking at the best ways to manage the transformation to a software-defined architecture that feels natural, intuitive, and approachable to the consumer. Afterall, while the end-goal will be to provide a much richer feature set and driving experience for the consumer, the road to getting there must be relatively seamless to that same consumer.

OEMs like Audi, BMW, and Tesla have whole-heartedly embraced software-centric architecture and publicized their plans to move away from some of their hardware characteristics of the past.

For example, according to Roadshow, Audi’s newest vehicles have a new infotainment stack. Its most notable feature is Function on Demand. If a consumer originally bought their Audi without navigation and regret that decision, they can simply purchase the feature directly on their infotainment system at a later date. This breathes new life into older models and exposes current Audi owners to future tech opportunities, subtly and ideally influencing their next car upgrade to a vehicle within the same OEM brand family.

As another example, Tesla has been at the forefront of OTA upgrades in the automotive world since upgrading last Spring. The company prides itself on its ability to evolve a vehicle after it leaves the lot. According to Teslarati, the general feeling is that if you add just enough power behind the screen, it’ll be future-proof—or at least future-proof enough to keep owners happy for about five to seven years.

Software-centric moves by OEMs continue to provide that new car feeling for owners. And for OEMs, the transition to more software yields more opportunity for them as well. For example:

  • More software integrations will help to identify and isolate specific platform improvements during a vehicle’s life cycle, helping OEM’s manage upgrades and update rollouts with segmented customer bases when needed.
  • A transition to integrating more software across an OEM’s portfolio increases scalability across models and brand families.
  • More software adoption means more opportunity to refresh interest in older, compliant models through vehicle updates with new features after sale. This also provides an opportunity for OEMs to monetize new features.
  • More software may lighten the “load” and overall weight of the vehicle, improving functional aspect of the vehicle such as gas mileage.

As the industry begins to transition from hardware to more software, OEMs need to ensure they have the right partner to adopt future-proof solutions that can scale. Ask yourself: “Do we have a supplier that is capable of supporting this transition?” and read on to part three on how Chamberlain Group is providing solutions that assist OEM’s during this paradigm shift.


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