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How electronics affects automotive manufacturing

Posted: 10 Apr 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:infotainment  connectivity  smartphone  IoT 

Do you think then that the smartphone is the key to success here?

What the car industry did was try to resemble the functionality of the smartphone in their infotainment systems. These became more and more complicated, even including creating mini app stores related to individual car companies. But any approach that sets up a specific environment will fail. I'm not talking about mirroring the smartphone to the car—that's actually an approach I would advocate—but trying to set up an infrastructure of your own, both on hardware and software sides to mimic the smartphone functionality. This approach will fail. There are one billion smartphones being sold per year and so, of course, it is absolutely impossible to compete.

Maybe the question is about how you differentiate yourself in the infotainment and connectivity markets?

Our approach is very simple. We ensure the functionality that we think is necessary is present in the smartphone and then use the head-up HMI unit in the car. This approach has several advantages, the first being that you are always up-to-date with your hardware because your hardware is always the smartphone.

Second, you can then focus on creating applications that are bespoke to automotive rather than creating a total software stack in the car. This is an approach that I think JLR is leading. In all our cars you can now order what we call the 'InControl' apps platform. It's a very easy job to modify existing applications to fit into that environment.

How does this apply beyond the world of infotainment?

If there is a company that is good at sign-recognition systems, or fusing radar with video technology, stability control or navigation or any other application, then of course the manufacturer wants to have separate conversations with these people.

They are best in these fields and we want to use the skills of each one rather than being tied to one supplier. But integration is key. It is also important to understand that the electronic system in a car is one entity and not an assembly of sub-systems. That is one of the big challenges that the automotive industry faces today.

JLR is part of Tata. Is there any connection in terms of developing electronics?

The cars are completely different. I don't think that there is even a washer that is in common. We act completely independently and we can do what is right for the products that we are making. If we are talking about synergies, where we can contribute is simply to support Tata. There is a very friendly relationship, but everyone is completely aware that our markets have nothing in common.

Let's talk about the powertrain. Is the effort of creating a hybrid car overkill in terms of the outcome?

I don't think there is a 'hybrid car'. There are several stages of hybrids and you can classify them according to the ratio of combustion engine power to electric motor power. On the lower end, you have the micro-hybrid, which is basically a modified starter-alternator.

Then you have hybrid electric vehicles and the purpose of those is mainly brake-energy recuperation. Then you have the plug-in hybrids that can move through the driving-cycle in pure electric mode. Of course, this has a cost indication, but it is also the main route for larger cars such as Range Rovers to cope with CO2 legislation.

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