what it tells us about the future of the automobile

The Consumer Electronic Show is the high mass of new technologies, and the manufacturers who participate in it make a form of allegiance to the software industry. The mobility of tomorrow will be connected, and the services provided by technologies could prove to be the most profitable.

Last July, during the presentation of its electrification strategy, the Stellantis group, present this year in Las Vegas, estimated that from 2026, software-based product and subscription offers could generate annual revenues. of around 4 billion euros, a figure set to quintuple four years later. ” 34 million monetizable connected cars are expected by 2030. The majority of all new vehicles expected to be upgradeable over-the-air by 2024 », Then specified the group.

Stellantis is now going further by formalizing at CES 2022 a partnership with the giant Amazon, a company whose field of action ranges from e-commerce to the production and distribution of audiovisual content.

Activities which from 2024 will have their place on board the future cars of the automotive group, and will be accessible via the Smart Cockpit that the teams of the two companies are developing together.

For automakers like Stellantis, the future goes through alliances with tech giants.
For automakers like Stellantis, the future goes through alliances with tech giants.

On the program: navigation, maintenance, entertainment, e-commerce, etc. ” Thanks to artificial intelligence and cloud computing, we will improve the overall experience of our customers and transform the vehicle into a customizable living space, both for passengers and for the driver. », in front of Carlos Tavares.

Stellantis and Amazon join forces

It should be noted in passing that Renault is working on comparable projects in partnership with Google: the multimedia system My Link from new electric Mégane E-Tech has the services of Google Automotive.

And all the manufacturers are of course moving in the same direction, as are the historical equipment manufacturers. “We are living very concretely the moment when the software industry and the automotive production activity come together”, recently declared Heiko Carrie, boss of Bosch France, in The world. The German group invests four billion euros each year in software skills, including around three billion in the mobility sector alone.

During the press conference he held to open the THOSECarlos Tavares, Managing Director of Stellantis, strongly insisted that the group he heads was in the process of transforming into an automotive “tech” company. An approach now vital for traditional manufacturers, who may also soon have to deal with direct competition from specialists in consumer electronics.

Sony in the race

This competition could for example take the appearance of the Sony Vision-S 02, a 7-seater electric SUV concept car presented this week in Las Vegas. During his opening CES press conference, Sony boss Kenichiro Yoshida was perfectly clear on his intentions: “ we are perfectly positioned to participate in this redefinition of mobility. ” It is said.

Ultra-connected and packed with sensors, the Sony Vision-S 02 aims for battery life levels 4 and 5.
Ultra-connected and packed with sensors, the Sony Vision-S 02 aims for battery life levels 4 and 5.

To this end, the company will launch its subsidiary Sony Mobility in the spring, which will capitalize on the strengths of the company. ” We have management technologies in the cloud, 5G, image sensors and entertainment facilities accompanied by their content », Explains Yoshida, quoted by The echoes.

From there, it may be tempting for this new entrant to the automotive sector to assemble different components (batteries and electric motors, driver assistance systems, etc.) to offer their own car. Or, more reasonably, given the huge investments that this industry requires, to offer its technologies to more established players, and thus become a kind of super-equipment manufacturer.

A car in Europe driven from Japan

In the meantime, we must occupy the land. Sony has therefore carried out various tests with prototypes on the circuit and on the open road in recent months, notably with a remote driving experiment. A process which, assures the Japanese, will accompany the rise of the so-called autonomous car. This is how a team of engineers in Japan was able to take control of a car located in Germany through the 5G network. Would you have believed such an operation possible 5 years ago?

Let us recall in passing that other giants of consumer electronics have ambitions in the automotive industry, starting with Apple, of which we unfortunately do not know much or all of the Titan project he has been cooking since 2014. According to the Bloomberg agency, the project could see the light of day in 2025. We also attribute ambitions to the Chinese Xiami or Foxconn, the latter being already linked to the Stellantis group.

Of course, the heat engine will soon be just a (often good) memory. The future electrification of the vehicle fleet is no longer a subject, even though zero-emission models and plug-in hybrids already represented nearly one in five sales in France last year. For manufacturers, the question today is to offer high backup times with batteries as compact as possible.

Mercedes guarantees it: with a single charge, the Vision EQXX can cover your trips to and from work for 1 month!
Mercedes guarantees it: with a single charge, the Vision EQXX can cover your trips to and from work for 1 month!

So it is with the Mercedes EQXX, a demonstrator unveiled at CES. This offers a range of more than 1000 km despite a battery half as large as that of the large sedan EQS unveiled this year, which however represents the pinnacle of what the automotive industry currently offers.

Tomorrow, Vietnamese or Turkish cars

The other advantage of electrification is that it allows new entrants to quickly offer competitive products. Present at CES, the Vietnamese manufacturer Vinfast, discovered at the Paris Motor Show at the end of 2018, announces the color with in the pipes no less than 5 models covering a large share of the market.

Barely launched, Vinfast already dangles an ultra-wide range.
Barely launched, Vinfast already dangles an ultra-wide range.

These vehicles guaranteed for 10 years or 200,000 km should be available in Europe at the end of the year, and the brand is already looking for a production site in Germany, where it would notably join Tesla, which we recall in passing that it sold nearly a million cars in the world in 2021, a figure which reflects a almost 90% increase compared to fiscal year 2020.

Just as unexpected as Vinfast, the Turkish brand Togg unveils at CES a large electric sedan that could hit the market in 2024: “We are a mobility technology company,” says the boss of the company, who ultimately says the same thing as the big bosses of the traditional automobile.

The barycenter of the automobile of tomorrow is in Asia, at least for the moment. This is where a large part of the technology is designed, this is where the batteries are manufactured, and this is where many emerging manufacturers come from.

MGs and others Lynk&Co are already present on the European market, and offer very interesting products there. MG thus sold nearly 5,000 cars in France in 2020, a figure higher than its objectives. These good figures are enough to whet the appetites of Xpeng, Li Auto and other Nio, who have already sold nearly 100,000 cars on the Chinese market last year.

More than respectable values ​​for these still young brands: The echoes recall that Nio, the oldest of the three, is only 7 years old, and that Tesla took 14 years to cross the threshold of 100,000 units per year (with very expensive products, of course).

Beware of costs

What about Europe in all of this? Rest assured, it is still worthily represented at CES. French supplier Valeo, to name but one, made the trip to Nevada with its third generation Lidar, that Caradisiac had already told you about.

The new Valeo Lidar is presented as a 3D super-scanner allowing you to see what escapes the camera, the radar or the eye.  It does this by examining the vehicle's environment 25 times per second.
The new Valeo Lidar is presented as a 3D super-scanner allowing you to see what escapes the camera, the radar or the eye. It does this by examining the vehicle’s environment 25 times per second.

This equipment makes it possible to reach level 3 of autonomous driving. Mercedes has equipped its S-Class with it, to which it is possible to delegate driving up to 60 km / h, or even 130 km / h when the legislation allows it. According to Valeo, a third of new premium cars will reach level 3 of autonomy by 2030. The Lidar market should then amount to 50 billion euros per year.

Tomorrow is something to dream of, therefore, but these advances will only be worth if they are shared by all, which is still far from being the case for these high-tech products. The challenge for manufacturers is to remain accessible to the middle classes while digesting the additional cost imposed by electrification and all the technological refinements that will accompany it.

This implies that manufacturers are working on significant cost reductions elsewhere. A hell of a challenge for 2022 and beyond, which should in particular lead to unprecedented alliances in the industry. You have to expect everything, even the best.

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