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Guillaume RIO
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If Tesla crystallizes the advent of the electric vehicle, the latter also fully masters the software that drives its vehicles with lines of code developed from A to Z by its own engineers. During the Websummit, the giant Bosch revealed that in 2010 a vehicle required 10 million lines of code, 100 M today and 500 M for an autonomous vehicle. Several years ago, Elon Musk predicted that the car would be just an iPad on 4 wheels, thus shaping the beginnings of a radical transformation of the automotive world.

The Fact: Auto Manufacturers Are Becoming Tech Companies

Elon Musk’s firm is the world’s number one automotive industry, worth more than $ 800 billion, or four times more than Toyota, and sells nearly 10 million vehicles a year.
By its technological advance in the various fields:

  • the batteries,
  • the customer interface,
  • the assisted and autonomous driving system,

the American firm is seen more as a tech company than a car manufacturer. As proof, “software” occupies 55% of Tesla’s workforce against 25% in traditional manufacturers according to the Boston Consulting group. Faced with this coming revolution, many historical players have decided to take the digital revolution.

Decoding: creating your own 'operating system' to fight addiction to GAFAM

The Volkswagen group has started a real digital revolution under the leadership of its CEO Herbert Diess, who took over as head of the group in 2018 decided to transform the group into a Software company.

According to Herbert Diess “We are waiting for new competitors who should accelerate the change in our industry and bring new skills to it. Their incredible value and their almost unlimited access to financial resources encourage respect. As I said before, the most valued group in the world will soon be a mobility giant. It could be Tesla, Apple or Volkswagen. “

In order to fulfill its ambitions, in January 2020, the German giant brought together its engineers in an autonomous division,, whose stated ambition is to increase the share of software developed internally from 10% to 60% by 2025. To achieve this goal, the Car.Software division has promised to invest 7 billion euros and ultimately employ 10,000 engineers.

The ultimate goal of the German group is to create its own operating system, the VW OS, in order to be completely independent from GAFAM.


The new unit at VW Copyright: Volkswagen AG

Compared to Volkswagen, Renault is no slouch. The French giant has brought together 2000 engineers dedicated to software in a ‘Software factory’, the first materialization of which will be the 100% electric Megane eVision which will be released in 2022. The latter will be equipped with an Info-Entertainment OS called ‘My link’ running on Android. Renault and its Alliance partners, Nissan and Mitsubishi, signed an agreement in 2018 with Google.

Renault will be the first manufacturer to offer all the services of Google Automotive Services (GAS), i.e. access to the entire Google ecosystem (Google Maps, Google Play, Google voice, etc.), without the need to have a smartphone.

At the same time, Renault also announced the creation of a “Software Republic” in collaboration with Orange, Atos, Dassault system and ST Microelectronics, the main challenge of which is to become more independent from GAFAM.

Geely, a major player in the Chinese automobile market, wants to establish itself in the industrial production of electric and autonomous vehicles. The Geely group, founded in 1997 in Hangzhou, is also the owner of Volvo and the main shareholder of Daimler-Mercedes and Lotus.

For Geely 2021 is the year of the convergence of software and automotive. Since the beginning of the year, the Chinese group has accumulated partnerships with “tech” giants such as Baidu, Tencent and Foxconn.

On January 11, Baidu (the Chinese Google) and Geely jointly established a joint venture focused on the production of self-driving cars. Geely, will contribute with its automotive design and manufacturing capabilities while Baidu will make available its autonomous driving software called Apollo.

On January 13, Geely formed a joint venture with Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics supplier (supplier to Apple). The two groups will create a production platform open to other manufacturers. Their first client will be the young Californian company Faraday Future considered as a future competitor of Tesla.

Like Tesla with Starlink, Geely secured the government agreement in late February to begin manufacturing satellites to create a smart and comprehensive “mobility ecosystem” needed by self-driving cars. China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) approved a license for the factory in Taizhou, Zhejiang province, where Geely is based, to begin manufacturing in mid-year.

Geely now plans to begin production in October and achieve production of more than 500 satellites per year.

At the same time, Alibaba announced the creation of a car brand with SAIC Motors, the largest automaker in China. Together, the two partners founded IM Motors (called Zhiji Motors in China), a brand of high-end electric smart cars.

IM Motors benefits from Alibaba’s Operating System: AliOS and Alibaba Cloud, to optimize its cars in a connected ecosystem.

Toyota, the Japanese giant recruited in 2016 a former Google, James Kuffner to develop an open OS called “Arene” which is the base of its city ‘Woven city’ inaugurated in mid-February 2021.

Initially, this city of 2,000 inhabitants will be inhabited by residents and full-time researchers. They will be able to test and develop technologies such as autonomy, robotics, personal mobility, smart homes and artificial intelligence in a real environment, all based on their open software “Arena”.


a living laboratory at toyota

Copyright : Toyota

Akio Toyoda, CEO of the Toyota group, wants to shape the future of the ‘autonomobile’, “The automobile industry is clearly in the midst of its most radical phase of change, at a time when electrification, connected driving and autonomous driving are making great strides. Continuous vehicle improvement remains a priority for Toyota. But we are also looking to develop mobility solutions that will help everyone enjoy life. We participate, at our level, in improving society for at least the next hundred years. This new city marks for us a big step forward towards sustainable mobility. It proves that we continue to diversify beyond classic cars and utility vehicles by providing added value, including customer and citizen services. “

Guillaume RIO
Specialist of BATX & GAFA ecosystems and passionate about China, Guillaume analyzes the impact of new technologies on our lives.
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