The car is becoming a “smartphone with wheels”, and apple is trying to accelerate the transformation of the industry in different ways.
Now there are hundreds of special microchips in cars, but they still can’t communicate with each other.
Apple may build an operating system for the whole car and run it on its own silicon chip. They may also be only responsible for the design and OEM, and participate in the operation of self driving taxi service.
Apple’s ultimate goal is to replace the current 1.4 billion cars in the world with completely autonomous, zero emission, completely traffic changing new cars.
Tencent technology news on May 23, now the car is basically moving in the direction of “smart phones with wheels”, so it’s not surprising that apple is trying to enter this field. Since the birth of the automotive industry, its first major shift has been from internal combustion engines to motors, which involve far fewer mechanical components. Now, a second shift is underway, moving towards the future of autonomous driving.
For a century, automobile has always been a mechanical system that can operate with each other, including engine, transmission, transmission shaft and brake system. With the development of these machines, electronic sensors and processors have been introduced to assist mechanical systems, but the big concept of cars has hardly changed. As a result, cars with dozens or hundreds of dedicated microchips still can’t talk to each other.
Now that automakers are turning to features like electric motors, sophisticated entertainment systems and adaptive cruise control, cars need a central computer to control all these things. So why can’t you use a computer to control all the systems in a car? At the hardware level, it may just mean that there are fewer chips to handle more car functions. However, this will have a profound impact on what capabilities the future automobile will have, how the automobile manufacturers will make money, and who will survive and develop in a global automobile industry that we still can’t identify today.
No one inside Apple has disclosed its specific plan, but the company has been considering taking a place in the automotive industry for many years, spending a lot of money on recruiting hundreds of people, then canceling their roles when priorities change, recruiting other engineers with similar skills almost as quickly, and then firing unsuitable engineers, All of this is to achieve an ultimate vision that is still mysterious.
Apple also recently approached automakers, including Hyundai Motor Co., to establish potential manufacturing partnerships, but the negotiations failed. Apple is likely to experiment as it always does, until or unless it finds something it thinks is better than anyone else.
Peter fintl, director of technology and innovation at Capgemini engineering Germany, said: “we see enough feedback in the supply chain. We know that apple is really investigating every aspect of automotive engineering and manufacturing, but no one knows whether Apple is creating cars, technology platforms or mobile services.” Capgemini engineering Germany is a subsidiary of a multinational company, which has cooperative relations with dozens of automobile manufacturers and parts manufacturers.
Many other technology companies, including Intel, NVIDIA, Huawei, Baidu, Amazon and alpha, the parent company of Google, are also moving into the field of automobiles and their parts, which are usually conservative and have relatively low profit margins. At the same time, traditional automakers such as Ford, general motors, Toyota, Daimler and Volkswagen, as well as auto suppliers such as Bosch, ZF and Magna, are trying to act like these technology companies.
Basically, every company is shifting its focus to software, and it’s doing that through crazy recruitment. In the past year, almost all the major auto companies have advertised that they want to recruit more software developers. For example, Volkswagen announced in March 2019 that it would add 2000 people to its technology development team. Meanwhile, the company has hired thousands of software engineers.
“Software is swallowing up the world, and cars will be the next target area,” said Jim Adler, managing director of Toyota AI ventures, Toyota’s venture capital fund
From hardware to software
Johannes Deichmann, partner of McKinsey, a consulting firm and expert on Automotive Software and electronic components, said there are as many as 200 computers in today’s most complex cars, which are smart enough to control everything from engines and automatic braking systems to air conditioning and dashboard entertainment systems. These computers are made by a wide variety of suppliers, often running proprietary software, which makes them largely inaccessible even to car manufacturers.
This kind of modularity is a good idea to some extent. For example, when making Chevy Malibu, does GM really need to know how the windshield wiper computer works? However, according to daichmann, the proliferation of these independent processors has led to unsustainable complexity.
As you might imagine, Tesla has played an important role in driving the auto industry in new directions. Jan Becker, chief executive of apex.ai, a Palo Alto, California based automotive software start-up, said that since the first model s was born, Tesla has taken the lead in replacing hundreds of small computers with a few more powerful ones. Systems that used to require dedicated microchips now run in separate software modules.
Becker added that this is why Tesla can add new features to its vehicles through “in the air update.”. Want faster speedup, longer distance mileage, enhanced autopilot system or instrument on board entertainment system? Tesla has proved that they only need to upgrade their software once. This is very similar to the pattern that we expect mobile device software to be continuously updated.
Next, automakers are scrambling to develop or commission their own full vehicle operating systems. ‘the door is still open in this area, ‘says fintel of Capgemini engineering Germany. NVIDIA provides its drive OS; Volkswagen and Daimler have announced that they, like Tesla, are developing independently, and Google, through its Android auto OS, is hinting that it is going deeper into the automotive field.
So far, Ford has focused on in dashboard entertainment and navigation, but the company recently announced that from 2023, it will use Android on all models sold outside China, including the just released Ford F-150 lightning, and will use Google to help manage the data flow collected from its vehicles. General Motors also uses Android in its all electric Hummer.
That’s where Apple may have to make tough decisions: while it has the opportunity to use its vast software and chip manufacturing expertise to create the next generation platform for the highest bidder, the company tends to make products for its own brand rather than parts for other companies. In addition, Intel (via Mobileye), alphabet (via waymo and Android auto), NVIDIA and others are already implementing a supplier strategy for auto manufacturers.
Ryan Robinson, head of automotive research at Deloitte, said the huge complexity and cost of building and delivering thousands of cars, let alone millions, and ensuring their safety were the reasons why so many technology companies chose to work with car companies rather than try to build their own cars.
Although analysts have been predicting for years that big automakers will buy Tesla in the short term. But it turns out that electric vehicles are more about software than hardware. What’s more, car manufacturers are not good at developing the kind of software that today’s cars and drivers need. Volkswagen decided in June last year that, despite years of development, it had to postpone the debut of its flagship electric car because its software was not ready.
“Whether a well-known fruit company will join the game is a big mystery for the automotive industry,” said Dai Ximan, an expert on Automotive Software and electronic components at McKinsey
Apple already has a Carplay in dash interface for the iPhone, but it’s limited to entertainment and navigation, not to the deeper integration and functionality required for a real vehicle operating system. Apple also shows great potential in designing the microchips and sensors needed for smart cars, although these chips and sensors are currently mainly used on iPhones, iPads and Macs. Apple didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Apple can build an operating system for the whole car and run it on its own silicon chip. But the company seeks vertical integration wherever possible to control all aspects of the user experience. So the question is: will car makers let Apple treat itself like at & T did when it first launched the iPhone? And the impact on music companies when it launched iTunes. Apple has turned things around in one fell swoop, controlling a huge market and an important part of our lives.
In February, talks between apple and South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. broke down, possibly because Hyundai is worried about being merged into the apple ecosystem. After that, Nissan immediately signaled that it might be willing to cooperate with apple.
If there is a technology company on earth that has enough resources to build a new car manufacturer from scratch, it is undoubtedly apple. But there is no sign that this is the company’s goal. If Tesla is a typical example of this road, we don’t know why Apple executives are willing to tolerate the tortuous process of manufacturing, testing and service capacity-building required on this road.
If it is unlikely to provide intelligence for other automakers’ cars and compete directly with Tesla and all other electric car startups, apple still has another option. Apple unremittingly in the acquisition and development of electric self driving vehicles software and hardware may indicate its long-term ambition as the auto industry moves towards the automated taxi service. Is an apple mobile company, not an apple car, the most meaningful?
General Motors’ cruise, Amazon’s zoox and many others are already on the way. But as there is no such self driving taxi service, apple is likely to create something completely under its control, in addition to waymo’s limited experiments in Arizona, while providing considerable additional revenue for struggling automakers such as Nissan.
Daichman said Apple and other companies can design and commission their own brands of cars and run them as part of the services they provide, without having to find actual manufacturers on those cars. After all, apple is not an electronics manufacturer. In fact, Apple has outsourced all its manufacturing to Foxconn, which happens to be building its own car manufacturing capabilities.
Instead, apple is first and foremost a customer-centric company, using its technological capabilities to develop products actually made by Foxconn and other contractors. Coincidentally, Apple’s deep technical expertise is what Apple wants to achieve as a leader. With fully automated driving proving more difficult than anyone expected, Apple has enough time to develop its own service.
Apple is likely to invest billions of dollars in the development of electric vehicles, but has never released a product, or the product or service it provides has failed. Transportation can be so different in scope and complexity from personal and mobile computing that the only way to succeed is through large-scale collaboration that Apple doesn’t know about.
Akio Toyota, chief executive of Toyota, said in March that if Apple offered cars to consumers, it should be ready to serve users for 40 years. That makes sense, especially if Apple’s ultimate goal is not just to make ordinary cars, but to replace the 1.4 billion cars in the world today with completely autonomous, zero emission, traffic changing new cars. In other words, it’s a trillion dollar auto revolution in which apple is already involved（ Tencent technology reviser / Jinlu)