Volkswagen will extend the reach of its major Automotive Cloud project to China and the US as part of its partnership with Microsoft, as the manufacturer transforms into a software-driven mobility provider.
Initially, the project was focused on Europe, but the expansion reflects Volkswagen’s ambition to reinvent the business on a global scale.
It also reflects the chosen markets for the future full-electric, fully connected ID. model family.
The plan was revealed as the two companies shared the latest updates on the Automotive Cloud project during an event at the Volkswagen Digital Lab in Berlin.
Dr. Herbert Diess (pictured left), CEO of Volkswagen, and Satya Nadella (pictured right), Microsoft CEO, said the businesses were working together on the first development projects for connected vehicle services, and progress has been made in the set-up of Volkswagen’s new development centre in North America.
Diess said: “Our strategic partnership with Microsoft is a key element in our efforts to develop Volkswagen into a software-driven mobility provider. With the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud, we are working on a unique solution for our customers. Our upscaling capabilities give us a huge competitive advantage in this area.”
Nadella said that the partnership would enable Volkswagen to deliver new Azure-based connected vehicle services to customers, adding: “Digital technology is rapidly changing every aspect of the auto industry – from the manufacturing process to the car itself.”
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, member of the board of management of the Volkswagen brand for digital car and services and head of digital car and services within the Volkswagen Group, is responsible for the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud.
He said: “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.”
The Volkswagen ID. is the first vehicle to be connected to the Automotive Cloud and will be launched in Europe next year.
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.
Joint projects currently being worked on by Volkswagen and Microsoft currently focus on communication and navigation solutions as well as personalised services.
These will use self-learning algorithms to support drivers and passengers, while offering extended functions, such as automatically linking into telephone conferences and transferring navigation destinations from desktop to vehicle. There will also be integrations of Microsoft Office and the Skype communication platform.
The meeting in Berlin highlighted the importance of the centre as a software development location. Apart from the Digital Lab, other competence centres with their headquarters in the city include Carmeq, a subsidiary of Volkswagen which is developing a new vehicle operating system, called 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.