Driven by the wave of “four modernizations”, software is playing an increasingly important role in automobiles. Taking a broad view of the market, thanks to the large-scale application of software in the car, the connotation and extension of the current car have undergone tremendous changes compared with the past – from the past only used for travel to intelligent mobile terminals, which are more closely integrated with people’s daily life, more intelligent, humanized and emotional. “Software defined vehicle (SDV)” has gradually become the industry consensus, forming a new blue ocean.

According to the relevant forecast data, the market of automotive software and electronic and electrical components will grow at an annual rate of about 7% in the next decade, and the scale will increase from 238 billion US dollars in 2020 to 469 billion US dollars by 2030. This means that the competition in the automotive field in the future will not only compete with the traditional hardware technology, but will be more transferred to the software level. It is aware of this that in the past two years, more and more parts enterprises began to focus on software and actively carry out layout, thus opening a competition for the dominance of SDV.

“Software defined automobile” becomes a consensus, parts enterprises accelerate layout

In the automotive industry, “software defined car” is not a new concept. As early as 2016, Wang Jin, then general manager of Baidu’s automatic driving division, pointed out that “software defines cars” will be the future trend. More specifically, it will be the software technology with artificial intelligence as the core, rather than the traditional technology and performance indicators, that will determine the future of cars. In the next few years, with the rapid development of automatic driving and the Internet of vehicles, the application of software in cars is more and more extensive, and this trend is more obvious. To this end, many auto companies and parts suppliers have announced the establishment of software R & D team to enhance the strength of software R & D.

In September, Hella revealed that it is establishing a global software department to coordinate all the company’s software activities and reduce the complexity of software development. At the same time, the Department will develop a new business model based on software by providing independent software products, such as software pay per view, so as to enhance the global competitiveness of its software.

It is reported that the Department will be managed by hellaaglaia, a software expert of Hella, and the initial employees will be mainly recruited from Hella’s existing employees. At present, Haila employs about 2000 software experts around the world, mainly focusing on the embedded software field, such as radar, battery, lighting control function development, etc. After the establishment of the new Department, these employees will follow the unified process standards and methods to form an organic whole.

Similarly, Bosch, another parts giant, announced at the end of July that it would integrate nearly 17000 experts in software and electronics to build a new intelligent driving and control division. Due to the early realization of the importance of on-board software, Bosch has carried out nearly 40 years of research and development work in related fields. Up to now, Bosch has invested about 3 billion euros in software technology research and development every year.

However, previously, Bosch’s exploration in software was divided into four domains, namely powertrain domain, body control domain, intelligent cockpit domain and autopilot domain. The related work was jointly carried out by four business divisions. However, with the continuous evolution of automotive electronic and electrical architecture from decentralized to domain centralized control, it is difficult to avoid the need for cross domain control, which will inevitably involve cross division R & D. Therefore, Bosch decided to integrate talents in related fields to better provide customers with one-stop system solutions. It is reported that the business department will provide electronic systems and necessary software for existing and new customers from 2021.

Both of the above two are typical representatives of the traditional parts giants who “turn from hard to soft”. As software will be the forefront of innovation in the automotive field in the future, it will largely determine the depth and application breadth of automotive technology. Even if these enterprises have become the “top leaders” in the traditional parts market, they have to take advantage of the trend to seek changes and strengthen the technical reserves in software. What’s more, for some traditional parts enterprises, software is not their strong point, they should pay more attention to the technical reserve in this field.

It is worth mentioning that in addition to the integration of internal R & D resources, there are also some parts enterprises that choose to cooperate with other technology enterprises or make special acquisitions to improve software capabilities. For example, ZF disclosed earlier that it is formulating policies to strengthen the development of software. For this reason, ZF chose to cooperate with Microsoft to make use of the advantages of Microsoft azure cloud services and development tools to enhance the speed and quality of information technology enterprises in software development process, methods and solutions, accelerate the integration and delivery of software, and develop software driven travel services Service provider transformation.

In order to better realize the software defined vehicle, ZF also specially developed Cubix software component, which realizes the integration and interconnection of chassis control functions through software: by interconnecting multiple vehicle systems such as electric power steering system, active rear axle steering system (AKC), active damping system (smotion), powertrain control unit and integrated brake control unit As the center of the system to optimize the performance of the car. Moreover, Cubix does not rely on designated suppliers, and can support the parts and components provided by ZF and the third party, which greatly improves the freedom of cooperative customers.

In addition, with the rapid development of automobile “four modernizations” in the past two years, some new technology suppliers have emerged, including cross-border technology companies from other fields, such as Huawei, Neusoft, Intel, NVIDIA, and so on. They also regard “software defined automobile” as the layout focus. In this context, the curtain of “software defined automobile” has already opened.

Supplier vs vehicle factory, who will lead the future?

In the face of the new trend of “software defined automobile”, it is not only the parts giants who turn around, but also the vehicle manufacturers. Since June 2019, Volkswagen announced the establishment of Automotive Software Department Car.Software Over the past year, auto companies including SAIC, Chang’an, GAC, great wall, Toyota and Volvo have been competing to build software teams to accelerate the pace of independent software development and enhance software competitiveness and integration capabilities.

However, software development, application and business model are obviously different from hardware. In the process of traditional auto enterprises and parts suppliers developing software, the relationship between integration and zero has changed, including their positioning and division of labor. A typical example is Tesla. As one of the most sophisticated car companies currently using automotive software, Tesla adopts the vertical integration method in the whole vehicle development process, and chooses independent research and development for key technologies such as on-board operating system and automatic driving chip.

“In the future, will the whole vehicle factory do it from the beginning to the end? I don’t think so, because it involves integration ability, input-output ratio and time cost. ” Neusoft Ruichi autopilot director Liu Wei pointed out. Although at present, from hardware to software, there are many advantages for vehicle manufacturers to take control of R & D in their own hands, such as realizing independent control of software iteration and saving R & D cost. Especially in the later stage, even a very small change in software may cost millions of investment. In this case, it’s better to do it yourself than hand over the money to the supplier. But on the other hand, the disadvantages of this completely all inclusive development mode are also obvious.

Take the input-output ratio as an example, if the OS developed by a car company is only for its own use, the input and output will certainly be difficult to balance, which is why many parts companies that were born out of car companies in the early days have finally become independent and open. The cost of time is also the same, because the whole vehicle factory does it all by itself from the beginning to the end, and it is inevitable that they will encounter the parts they are not good at. This completely self reliant way of playing will take a longer time, and the market will be lost because it takes too long to build the car.

“Therefore, I believe that in ten years’ time, the cooperative relationship between OEMs and Tier1 will continue to exist, not only OEMs but also Tier1.” Senior director of Weilai Automobile & senior expert Zhu Hao said. “Take Weilai as an example. Although many of our auto parts are self-developed, we know that our expertise in some areas can’t match that of our suppliers. If we insist on our own solutions, it’s like digging a hole for ourselves.”

This means that under the background of “software defined automobile”, both vehicle manufacturers and suppliers should change their thinking, and make clear where they want the differentiated content, which technologies are beneficial to their core competitiveness, which are suitable for them to do, and which are not suitable for them to do. Because the original supply chain system will no longer be applicable, now the automotive industry has reached the crossroads of re division of labor, each company should re position itself.

“For example, the three electric systems, the automatic driving domain controller, the EE architecture, etc. must be mastered by the vehicle manufacturers themselves, which can reflect the differentiation in the future. There is also the application layer, that is, the content that can really be perceived and touched by users, such as HMI and vehicle control. I think it is also the core competitiveness of the whole vehicle factory, and we need to do it ourselves. But in the basic layer which is a little farther away from the terminal application, because it is difficult for ordinary consumers to reach, it can be handed over to the suppliers. ” Liu Wei said.

Liu Fucheng, senior director of product planning and marketing of horizon intelligent driving product line, also believes that under the trend of “software defined vehicle”, the vehicle manufacturers should master the content closest to users, which is more helpful to reflect differentiation and enhance product competitiveness. As for the software that is more low-level and basic level, because it embodies the ability of scale, stability and maturity, it can be released to partners or downstream suppliers.

But in the end, no matter how the supply system changes, the above experts agree that the long-term result of industrial division will not change, and even the division will become more and more detailed, because only in this way can we achieve higher efficiency. The past experience of the automotive industry has proved that through the industrial division of labor, one supplier can serve multiple automotive enterprises at the same time, which has more batch advantages and is conducive to cost reduction. With a clear division of labor between auto enterprises and suppliers, they can focus on each other’s R & D, continuously invest in a certain field, and improve the competitiveness of products.

On this basis, what will be changed will be the role orientation and business model of vehicle manufacturers and parts enterprises. For example, Xu Daquan, executive vice president of Bosch China, recently said that in the future, Bosch will no longer be only Tier1, but will also play the role of tier2 appropriately. With the deepening of its layout in the software field, Bosch may sell software, hardware or integrated software and hardware products.

I believe that in the context of “software defined car”, there will be more and more enterprises with similar ideas. Moreover, due to the increasing emphasis on software by vehicle manufacturers, it is not ruled out that there will be pure software companies providing services for Tier1 or vehicle manufacturers in the future, or vehicle manufacturers alliance like T3 travel, which will overcome common problems through centralized development of resources.

Editor in charge: yyx

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