When one giant meets another giant

Technology is evolving at an insane pace in the automotive world. With some new tech added to our cars literally every day, it’s no more a buy-off-the-counter scene for automakers. That is one of the many reasons why automakers and technology companies are collaborating, the latest of which are Volkswagen and Microsoft.

What Are They Working On?

Volkswagen and Microsoft Team-Up For Cloud Connectivity
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Volkswagen and Microsoft are partnering to develop a "comprehensive industrial automotive cloud” called Volkswagen Automotive Cloud.

The kind of high-tech features we get in our cars need constant maintenance, and one way to do that is through cloud connectivity.

The technology will allow Volkswagen to provide a host of services to customers, such as on-board media streaming, smart-home connectivity, a personal assistant, predictive maintenance services, updates and upgrades, and much more.

You Can’t Hire A Playground To Host The Olympics

Given that Volkswagen is the second biggest car manufacturer in the world, it needed an equally capable service provider that can innovate, as well as handle the requirements of the German automaker. Also, Volkswagen hopes to add more than five million new Volkswagen-brand vehicles per year to the Internet of Things (IoT) in the cloud starting from 2020. Volkswagen will build its cloud service on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform as well as Azure IoT Edge.

Can We Call Them Friends With Benefits?

Volkswagen and Microsoft Team-Up For Cloud Connectivity
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Since technology is not their forte, collaborations like these help companies connect with customers based on tech features that can be integrated into cars. Not to mention, these help as big selling points. It’s a big, big opportunity to do business for both the parties. Although not as far-sighted as Volkswagen and Microsoft, Volvo and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance have partnered with Google to integrate Android OS into their models’ infotainment systems. The whole thing goes onto a different level when used in electric cars and autonomous vehicles. Huge amounts of data will need to be transmitted from the automaker to the vehicle and vice-versa; so, a cloud-based platform like Azura helps simplify that problem.

Our Take

I would prefer driving a car with none of these shenanigans, to be honest.

I’m sitting in the car for one reason – to drive – and not to play around with toys.

A car with three pedals and a stick would keep me calmer and happier, and more connected to the road to enjoy the soul-soothing experience of driving. In your opinion, is the ‘intrusion’ of technology in cars getting a little out of hand, or are you cool with cars getting tech-savvy? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

Further Reading

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Sidd Dhimaan
Associate Editor and Truck Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. He is currently our pickup truck expert and focuses his attention on heavy-duty and off-road vehicles.  Read More
About the author

Note: all images courtesy of Volkswagen.

Entering into a strategic partnership, Volkswagen and Microsoft Corp. will collaborate to develop the ‘Volkswagen Automotive Cloud’, one of the largest dedicated automotive industry clouds for all future Volkswagen digital services and mobility offerings. The Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG approved the conclusion of an agreement to this effect between Volkswagen and Microsoft on September 28, 2018. Volkswagen continues to forge ahead with its digital transformation at full speed. 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 “Volkswagen We”.

“The strategic partnership with Microsoft will turbocharge our digital transformation,” said Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen AG. “Volkswagen, as one of the world’s largest automakers, and Microsoft, with its unique technological expertise, are outstandingly well-matched. Together, we will play a key role in shaping the future of auto-mobility.”

“Volkswagen is harnessing technology to digitally transform and deliver innovative new connected car services to its customers,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “The world’s leading companies run on Azure, and we are thrilled that Volkswagen has chosen Microsoft. Together we will reimagine the driving experience for people everywhere.”

In-car services and platform based on Microsoft technology

From 2020 onwards, more than 5 million new Volkswagen-brand vehicles per year will be fully connected and will be part of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the cloud. The profound partnership between the two companies will lay the foundation for combining the global cloud expertise of Microsoft with the experience of Volkswagen as an automaker with a global market presence.

Together, the two companies will develop the technological basis for a comprehensive industrial automotive cloud. In the future, all in-car services for vehicles of the core Volkswagen brand as well as the Group-wide cloud-based platform (also known as One Digital Platform, ODP) will be built on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform and services as well as Azure IoT Edge. This will dramatically streamline the technical landscape.

Via the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud, Volkswagen will considerably optimize the interconnection of vehicle, cloud-based platform and customer-centric services for all brands, such as the “Volkswagen We” ecosystem.

By building the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud, Volkswagen will be able to leverage consistent mobility services across its entire portfolio and to provide new services and solutions such as in-car consumer experiences, telematics, and securely connect data between the car and the cloud.

Establishment of digital headquarters

As part of the new entity, Volkswagen will establish a new automotive cloud development office in North America near Microsoft’s headquarters. To help usher in a new wave of automotive transformation, 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.

Beyond the technological rationale of the partnership, Microsoft provides access to cloud expertise across their organization 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.

Development of the largest digital ecosystem in the automotive industry

In the long term, the solutions developed through the strategic partnership will be rolled out to other Volkswagen Group brands in all regions of the world, building the foundation for all customer-centric services of the brands. This includes the Volkswagen ID. electric family as well as conventionally-powered models. In the future, Volkswagen’s fleet of cars will become mobile ‘internet of things’ hubs linked by Microsoft Azure.

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