German car manufacturer Volkswagen is partnering with Microsoft to develop a large-scale automotive industry cloud for all future Volkswagen digital services and mobility offerings.
The large-scale automotive industry cloud is a significant step for Volkswagen as it transforms “into a mobility provider with fully connected vehicle fleet,” reads an excerpt from Volkswagen’s September 28th press release.
“Volkswagen is harnessing technology to digitally transform and deliver innovative new connected car services to its customers,” said Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella in VW’s press release.
#Volkswagen Automotive Cloud: With @Microsoft as its strategic partner, the company is taking a decisive step in its digital transformation into a mobility provider with a fully connected vehicle fleet and the digital ecosystem #VolkswagenWe. https://t.co/YyQVl5afs4 pic.twitter.com/pGKoYEaQ0F
— Volkswagen Group (@VWGroup) September 28, 2018
The concept is to transform 200 million of VW’s 2020 offerings into a fleet of connected cars that are capable of offering futuristic features like in-car media streaming, crash predictions, personalised driver identification, enhanced security and more.
VW is building the automotive cloud is on top of Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service. VW is developing the cloud for its entire brand and the rest of the auto group’s subsidiaries like Audi, Bently, Lamborgini and Porshe.
To develop the platform, the group is opening an automotive cloud development office in North America near Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington. Interestingly, the press release only mentions North America as a possible location for the centre instead of referring to the U.S specifically.
“Microsoft will provide hands-on support to Volkswagen as it ramps up its new automotive cloud development office, including resources to help drive hiring, human resources management and consulting services. The workforce is expected to grow to about 300 engineers in the near future,” reads the press release.
The release also states that Microsoft is giving Volkswagen’s cloud engineers access to the organization’s cloud development expertise. This is so “Volkswagen developers and engineers can benefit and learn from Microsoft’s strong culture of collaboration and agility and can transfer those experiences into the core Volkswagen organization,” reads the press release.
This is a compelling line as it speaks to how the traditional world-class automaker is looking to adapt and learn from the workplace culture of a more forward-thinking modern technology company.
For Microsoft, this is an exciting move since it’s been working behind the scenes with its automotive cloud platform. The company licensed its connected car technology to Toyota in March of 2017.
The car industry is going through a period of intense change with both autonomous and electric vehicles being new areas of focus for legacy vehicle manufacturers. On top of this, drivers want connected infotainment systems and futuristic features that are only possible through the power of cloud computing.
It’s an ideal time for tech companies to move into the changing space. Google recently partnered with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance to bring a custom infotainment solution to its cars.
Even chip makers are starting to develop complex silicon that’s capable of supporting features like the connected platforms VW and Microsoft are pledging to build.
It’s still unclear what this all means for drivers, but it’s exciting to see legacy automakers like VW make moves to modernize their vehicles.