Like it or not, software will become much more of a defining feature in cars going forward.
It means competency in software development is a must for major automakers, though at the same time there are also significant opportunities for revenue growth.
Stellantis highlighted this on Tuesday with an announcement that it is targeting approximately $4.5 billion in revenue from software-related products and subscriptions as early as 2026, and as much as $22.5 billion by 2030. These products will fall into groups such as features on demand, data as a service, fleet services, and estimates for vehicle pricing and resale value. Stellantis also made mention of a mileage-based insurance program.
To make this all a reality, Stellantis will develop three new artificial intelligence-backed software platforms: STLA Brain, STLA SmartCockpit and STLA AutoDrive. The software platforms will be introduced from 2024 in Stellantis' four new electric-vehicle platforms that were announced in July, and developing them will require an additional 4,500 software engineers, Stellantis said.
STLA Brain: This platform will be the hardware and software backbone of Stellantis' future lineup, enabling much more advanced over-the-air (OTA) updates to be delivered and allowing vehicles to be connected to the cloud. According to Stellantis, this platform will enable software developers to create and update features and services quickly and without the need for new hardware. It means vehicles can be kept up to date for much longer than currently possible.
STLA SmartCockpit: This platform is the interface between the vehicle and its occupants. It is being developed via a joint venture between Stellantis and Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn and will comprise things like digital instrument clusters, infotainment systems (navigation, voice activation and e-commerce), telematics, 5G connectivity, and cloud services, including AI-based applications. Stellantis and Foxconn are also exploring the possibility of manufacturing semiconductors to support Stellantis and third-party customers.
STLA AutoDrive: This platform is for self-driving technology. Stellantis will initially offer self-driving systems developed with BMW and Intel's Mobileye. STLA AutoDrive will initially have driver-assist features ranked at Level 2 on the SAE scale of self-driving capability, where the driver is required to monitor things at all times. Level 3, where the driver can look away briefly, has also been confirmed, and the capability will be continuously upgraded via OTA updates.
With these new software-based features, customers will be able to tailor their vehicles like never before. No doubt there will also be user-linked profiles that customers can transfer between vehicles, which could lead to higher retention rates for Stellantis and its 14 brands.