How will mobility develop in the coming years? Herbert Diess, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, has a very clear picture of this. "The car will probably become the most sophisticated Internet device of all," says Diess. In the very near future, vehicles will be fully connected software platforms, Diess explains. A development to which the entire automotive industry must adapt. "At Volkswagen, we need skills for this that we don't really have today".
“Our strategic partnership with Microsoft is a key element in our efforts to develop Volkswagen into a software-driven mobility provider”
Microsoft and Volkswagen jointly develop the Volkswagen platform Automotive Cloud. This is a very close partnership, as Dr. Herbert Diess and Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, confirmed during a joint visit to the Volkswagen Digital Lab in Berlin on February 27. “Our strategic partnership with Microsoft is a key element in our efforts to develop Volkswagen into a software-driven mobility provider,” said Dr. Herbert Diess. “With the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud, we are working on a unique solution for our customers.”
Satya Nadella also confirmed the scope of the project to the media representatives. “Digital technology is rapidly changing every aspect of the auto industry – from the manufacturing process to the car itself. Our partnership will enable Volkswagen to deliver new Azure-based connected vehicle services that accelerate the company’s transformation into a software-driven mobility provider and define the future of mobility for people everywhere.”
Volkswagen Automotive Cloud wird auf China und USA ausgeweitet
Volkswagen intends to expand the global footprint of its Automotive Cloud, which has previously been developed mainly for the European market, to China and the United States. Microsoft Azure with its comprehensive cloud, edge, AI and IoT capabilities will continue to form the basis of the growing digital ecosystem. Volkswagen will use its Automotive Cloud as the core of its vehicle and service data operations. The digital ecosystem is being developed by the Volkswagen brand together with partners as the lead brand within the Group.
Christian Senger, who will be responsible for the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud as Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen brand for Digital Car & Services and Head of Digital Car & Services within the Volkswagen Group, says: “The Volkswagen Automotive Cloud will be the global technological backbone of our digital ecosystem. At the same time, we will be launching a new, high-performance software architecture in our vehicles. This will lay all the foundations required for the full networking of our vehicle fleet and for the development of digital added-value services for our customers. Our goal is the customer experience for customers in their own vehicles and beyond.”
"Updates are essential for us, customers are used to them from their smartphones," says Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess. The issues of security and data protection also demand the greatest sensitivity, as Herbert Diess stressed in front of media representatives: "It is always the customer who decides on his data.
First lighthouse projects for connected vehicle services
Volkswagen is preparing its digital ecosystem for the core markets of the future ID. model family. The ID. will be the first vehicle to use the Automotive Cloud and is to be launched in Europe in 2020. Production is to start in China the same year and a member of the ID. family will roll off the production line in the USA from 2022 onwards.
Volkswagen and Microsoft are also working on first lighthouse projects for connected vehicles. They are concentrating on communication and navigation solutions as well as personalized services: These will leverage self-learning algorithms facilitating the use of services in the vehicle and offering occupants extended functions. Automated linking into telephone conferences and the transfer of prepared navigation destinations will only be the first steps, which will also include the integration of Microsoft Skype and Microsoft Office.
Progress is also being made with the establishment of the new Development Center in Seattle. Volkswagen had established this location for the development of the Automotive Cloud at the end of 2018. The idea of the Development Center is to learn from Microsoft’s highly developed culture of agile collaboration and digital leadership and transferring this culture to the center’s own organization. At the center, first developer teams are now starting on project work. Microsoft is providing support for the development of the new center in areas including the recruitment of specialists and project management.
CEOs speak about importance of partnership in Berlin
It is no coincidence that the two CEOs of Volkswagen and Microsoft chose Berlin as the venue for their meeting. For Volkswagen, Berlin is an important software development location. Apart from the Digital Lab, other competence centers have their headquarters here. These also include Carmeq, a subsidiary of Volkswagen which is moving ahead with the development of software for the new vehicle operating system "vw.os". About 650 specialists at three locations are concentrating on "vw.os" as well as the development of software for driver assistance, driving convenience and infotainment functions.