The head of Ford’s connected car project has said Amazon has become a natural ally for its plans, due to concerns he has in becoming dependent on Apple or Google, which have their own secretive projects in the automotive sphere.
Don Butler also said that ultimately Ford wants to open up its connectivity plans to other digital assistants, such as through its SmartDeviceLink open source partnership with other OEMs including Toyota and PSA. By being open source, SmartDeviceLink hopes to encourage a community of developers, boosting innovation. It will also be more flexible than Apple and Google-controlled platforms, enabling more applications and encouraging more players to get involved.
Meanwhile, the UK’s biggest car company Jaguar Land Rover has announced a partnership with CloudCar that will see the adoption of its cloud services platform in its vehicles. It has also acquired a minority $15 million (€14 million) stake in the company, which is based in Pao Alto, California.
CloudCar’s cloud services platform ties machine learning capabilities to various sensors in the car, which allows for capabilities including improved voice-activated applications and personalisation. A major advantage of the platform is that it allows for the maintenance of brand identity and ownership by the manufacturer.
Hanno Kirner, Executive Director of Corporate Strategy for Jaguar Land Rover, said: ‘CloudCar has been working with premium manufacturers on some of the most exciting opportunities and challenges in the fields of machine learning and infotainment. […] The eventual need to integrate into the car hundreds of driver-focused global cloud services and content means this platform is an excellent example where cooperation between OEMs can improve outcomes for customers, as well as reducing costs.’
Jaguar Land Rover intends to be the first to roll out the next-generation CloudCar platform in its first fully electric model, the Jaguar I-PACE. Jaguar Land Rover has doubled its sales and more than tripled turnover over the past five years.
Volkswagen, on the other hand, is aiming to divorce its relationship with customers from any specific vehicle, with the launch of Volkswagen User-ID. This will allow users to take their personal digital preference settings and services with them wherever they wish, allowing for a continuous service across vehicles and when they upgrade their vehicle.
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