Cars are now digital devices. The centre of gravity has shifted to data in the automotive industry. As Electric Vehicles (EVs) become more software-centric, and Software-as-a-Service Subscriptions are announced, cars become customizable platforms. The connected car is a platform that offers the mobile public LIDAR, ultrasonic sensors, immersive experiences that make cabins into virtual theme parks through Extended Reality (XR), telematics for maintenance, infotainment, intelligent messaging and live content transfer experiences, analytics for optimizing and forecasting inventory for spares at dealerships, video for teleoperated driving, and over-the-air (OTA) software updates.

Vehicle architecture alters the way we use them and see them. The burgeoning EV market, and the connected car revolution, are discrete but reinforcing spheres, where the COVID-19 propelled green and digital transitions have crisscrossed. BlackBerry’s QNX is even now inside 195 million vehicles. Tesla and Volkswagen offer OTA bug fixes. Polestar and Volvo use an Android Automotive OS to stockpile data from external networks. These EVs will be enmeshed inside data ecosystems sprinkled with a confetti of sensors, and supported by ubiquitous broadband connectivity.

The charge towards an all-electric future propels Ford to project sales of over 600,000 EVs by 2026 across Europe. These EVs will learn where you go, what you drive by as you commute, where you stop, what songs and broadcasts you listen to, your routines and habits, even where you slow down. Using AI systems, the connected car will note every hump and pothole and will monitor Road SurfaceDNA using Crowd-Sourced Data. By 2025, data specialists will leverage an array of database types—including time-series, NoSQL, and Graph databases. These will enable more flexible ways of unifying data sets. Combining these flexible data stores with progress in real-time-enabled data models and architecture, will empower car makers to evolve new data services.

These advances will allow teams to query and understand relationships between unstructured and semi-structured data, which in turn accelerates the development of new AI-driven capabilities. Merging data sets so that the value created is greater than the sum of the data silos is part of EV futures. Antiquated architectural elements allow only a fraction of data from connected devices to be collected, refined in data distilleries, queried, and analysed in real time.  How data is produced, processed, analysed, and visualized has been transformed by new and more omnipresent technologies, like kappa or lambda architectures for real-time analysis.

Stellantis, the global automaker that merged Fiat Chrysler and French PSA Group, plans to generate $22.5 billion annually from software installed in vehicles. The plan is for Stellantis to sell subscriptions to owners allowing the automaker to generate revenue, beyond selling, repairing, and financing vehicles. These novel revenue streams put certain functions behind a paywall that unlocks previously unavailable features at a cost, using either a one-time fee or a subscription.

Boosting profits courtesy updates chosen by the owner after taking delivery is a fresh frontier. Stellantis is investing $33.7 billion through 2025 into software and electrification. The plan includes employing 4,500 software engineers by 2024. The target is 34 million connected cars on the road by 2030. Stellantis begins with the undergirding electrical and software architecture of the cars which it calls an STLA Brain. The STLA is integrated with the cloud that connects electronic control units with the vehicle’s CPU.

In addition, Stellantis’ “SmartCockpit,” delivers Apps to the driver for navigation, voice assistance, e-commerce, and payments using four families of chips that cover more than 80% of the automaker’s microcontroller needs. Lastly, the driving platform called “AutoDrive,” will complete the automaker’s suite of software. Automakers now have the capability to actually offer drivers the ability to subscribe to service options like heated seats or adaptive cruise control. Stellantis also plans to use its data collection capacity to launch a usage-based insurance program offered through its finance arms in Europe and North America.

This ballooning industry around web-enabled vehicles is nudging carmakers, mechanic shops, leasing companies, owners, and regulators to pen the world’s first laws for connected cars. The data from EVs that are web-enabled is the new binary-gold of the wired world. Some manufactures adjure that the Citizen is Sovereign, and that uncontrolled access to in-vehicle data amounts to major safety, cyber, data protection, and privacy threats. Customer sovereignty and citizen power over data is a new source of value creation and wealth in the Age of the Connected Car.

Transit authorities can now access real time road surface management data, that allows rapid detection of damaged sections of motorways. Connected cars will have vibration laser scanning, and image recognition-based detection technologies. The Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT) has already developed an AI-based automatic pothole detection system. The prototype detects potholes in real-time, by photographing the road surface, with a vision sensor installed on the windshield. The AI inference model, semantically segments damaged sections of the road surface, using an encoder-decoder deep learning system. The technology consists of a mobile App for data gathering that uses an AI model, and a map-based cloud server platform, to identify potholes. Local government authorities in Korea, in Gwangju Metropolitan City, Goyang-si, and Gimhae-si are already piloting the model.