Digital Alliance; Carmaker Volkswagen draws rivals to collaborate on its OS

The firm reportedly has been struggling with its own ID.3 software issues

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Recent reports suggest a possible alliance between German automaker Volkswagen and its rivals as Volkswagen seems to have initiated discussions with others towards working together to develop an operating system for the car of the future.

Sources reported Christian Senger, the German carmaker’s board member responsible for digital services and software stating the same.

With the rise of autonomous driving, carmakers all over the world have been forced to consider their options as linking up radar, camera and ultrasonic sensors and connecting them to braking and steering components requires thousands of lines of software code.

There is a race to create automotive operating systems. We are seeing that many non-automotive players are building up competence in this area,” Senger recently told a leading news agency.

Earlier, Volkswagen board member Thomas Ulbrich said in March that U.S. electric car manufacturer Tesla has a 10-year start on rivals when it comes to building electric cars and software.

Christian Senger
Board Member – Volkswagen Auto

“In the future, there will likely be fewer automotive operating systems than carmakers. The operating system is not something that we will control on our own. We will define its core and then quickly include open-source components, to create standards. This will create opportunities for partnerships.”

Adopting an open-source approach to development with external partners is a new approach, Mr. Senger stated. “This is almost unimaginable for traditional carmakers. But this is the key breakthrough opportunity.”

In January, Volkswagen unveiled ‘Car.Software’, an independent unit accountable for developing lines of code, with a workforce of 3,000 digital experts and an operational budget of more than $7.8 billion. The automaker intends to have more than 10,000 software experts by 2025.

Mr. Senger stated it has received several interests from other carmakers about whether they can engage in the project, continuing that VW was in talks with “many companies”.

“We are in the process of looking at the opportunities,” Mr. Senger added, stating that Volkswagen wants to create a new system, rather than integrate legacy software from rivals. “This will filter out many who are not willing to do this,” Mr. Senger said about possible associates.