Perhaps crucially, Qualcomm also said its digital chassis allows automakers to “own the in-car experience… [and] Extend their brand and bring engaging consumer interactions into vehicles. That would be particularly welcome to manufacturers after Apple announced a next-generation, multi-screen version of CarPlay last June, which likely won’t be as collaborative as Qualcomm’s offering. Wire magazine reached out to several major automakers for comment on the Cupertino system, only to find that the companies don’t appear to be aware of the news or its potential impact on their dominance in their field of car users. Interface, here we come.
The digital chassis system is designed to work in all regions and with all types of vehicles, and Qualcomm said it hopes the chassis will “inspire new business models for automakers” beyond just selling and maintaining cars.
If you think paying for heated seats sucks…
In addition to in-car gaming, these new business models will also include requiring drivers to pay to unlock features installed in their vehicles. BMW has sparked controversy by saying heated seats already installed in cars require a subscription to function. Mercedes will soon ask drivers to pay $1,200 to unlock more performance, hidden behind a paywall written into its EV code. The latest-model Polestar 2 can be made even more powerful by purchasing the Performance Pack, which arrives via a software update, no wrench required.
Beyond software and connectivity, technology companies can also help automakers — especially startups — in mass production. Fisker and Foxconn can find such cooperation. The former is a California EV startup led by former Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker, and the latter is a Taiwanese company best known for assembling iPhones. Together, the two plan to develop an electric vehicle worth about $30,000 that will be produced in 2024 at a factory in Ohio.
In 2021, Fisker said Foxconn would help with product development, procurement and manufacturing, and that the partnership would allow his company to deliver products “at a price point that really brings electric vehicles to the mass market.”
Foxconn, which doesn’t want to put all its automotive eggs in one basket, also has a joint venture with Chinese auto giant Geely, the parent company of Volvo, Polestar and Lotus, among others. Likewise, Pegatron, another Taiwanese company that assembles iPhones, is now Tesla’s manufacturing partner.
Finding technology partners may soon become a top priority for auto brands that have yet to fully embrace advanced infotainment, driver assistance and connectivity systems. Lei Zhou, a partner at Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting, told WIRED that it is “highly likely” that automakers that go it alone with their own technology risk being left behind.
“If traditional OEMs leverage their current capabilities to develop connected technologies, they may find themselves left behind by emerging EV makers with IT backgrounds or OEMs working with strong technology partners,” Zhou added. …huge value can be generated through collaboration with a variety of players, both technical and commercial.”
What the hell is Apple doing?
And vice versa, tech companies keen to develop their first cars need the help of automakers with experience building them.
Tyson Jominy, vice president of automotive consulting at JD Power, told WIRED: “Tesla, Rivian, Dyson, Lucid and others have done a really good job designing the car. Yes. When many startups run into problems, [because] Mass producing cars is hard. So collaboration does make sense. “
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