Volkswagen Group will invest a total of $4 billion by 2025 to develop digital businesses and products like cloud-based platforms that connect vehicles and customers. This platform will enable services like car sharing.
The German automotive production and holding giant on Thursday announced that it was working on a new operating system for its electric cars that would hit dealerships 2020 onwards. The Group has named it ‘vw.OS’ and it will be employed in all VW branded electric vehicles. These new vehicles will have an all-new electronic architecture designed to support autonomous driving technology, said VW in a statement.
The proprietary vw.OS will synchronize the entire network of sensors present all over the vehicle. Currently, all the sensors operate independently of each other. The new operating system will tie up all the sensors together to gather new information using multiple inputs. For instance, data gathered from a parking sensor can be linked to the steering, navigation and onboard cameras to enable a car to park itself as soon as it senses an empty parking space. Assuming competent autonomy, the car could also sense if it is low on charge and drive to hook itself up to the nearest available charging outlet without the owner having to go to the trouble.
VW also said it was easier to push over-the-air software updates to its range of vehicles through its centralized operating system instead of relying on third-party software supplied by different vendors who provide the various sensors dotting the cars. On the back of the vw.OS’s potential, VW intends to launch a car-sharing business coined “We Share” in Berlin using a 2,000-strong fleet of electric cars. The ‘We Share’ program will commence operations in the second quarter of 2019. Further along the timeline, VW wants the business to expand to core European markets and select U.S. and Canadian cities. The inaugural fleet will have 1,500 e-Golfs and 500 e-Up!s. This fleet will operate until the Volkswagen I.D. hatchback scheduled to enter production in late 2019 takes up the slack.
The We Share is but a part of VW’s grand connected mobility program. All the vehicles that will come with the vw.OS will be bound under a single ‘digital ecosystem’ Volkswagen is terming ‘We’. Other applications of this digi-system are We Deliver, an autonomous delivery service, We Charge, a network of charging assistants, the existing smartphone app We Park, and even autonomous grocery and daily needs delivery which VW is setting up in tandem with an undisclosed retailer.
Volkswagen Group calculates the ‘We’ ecosystem will net them more than $1.15 billion by 2025. “We have a clear vision: we will continue to build vastly superior vehicles,” said the head of sales Jürgen Stackmann. “But going forward, our Volkswagens will increasingly become digital devices on wheels. Volkswagen OS will be a foundation for our functionalities – a platform to be in direct contact with our customers.”
Featured Image Credit: Electrek