BERLIN -- Ford is betting on open systems and the innovative capabilities of external software developers in its vehicle connectivity strategy.
“We see ourselves as the enablers of new applications in the automobile,” Barbara Samardzich, Ford of Europe's chief operating officer, told the Automobilwoche Congress here on Thursday.
The creativity of outside developers can only find its way into the vehicle if the automaker has open interfaces, Samardzich said.
Wolfgang Ziebart, Jaguar Land Rover's technology chief, told the conference that automakers must win over applications developers who work with Apple and Google. The two tech giants have considerable market power and they have set the standards for the operation of devices, he said, adding that Apple and Google are pursuing a vision that extends beyond the automobile.
“To Google, driving is not a separate activity,” he said. "It is rather integrated into a larger context."
Samardzich said Ford will use outside developers in the medium term to help meet the challenge of keeping the services in its cars up-to-date, taking the varying development cycles for vehicles and consumer electronics into consideration.
In the long term, Ford will continue to strive for alliances with the most important players in all forms of cloud services. “Imagine the car of the future as a system for gauging traffic situations,” she said, outlining Ford’s vision of next-generation car IT.
Ford has recognized that an automaker cannot cope with these challenges by itself, Samardzich said. The auto industry can only ensure its future in car IT by collaborating with outside developers and working in concert with major IT companies.
One of the greatest tasks facing automakers is continuing to develop better systems to avoid traffic jams, Samardzich said. “To do this, we need a smart system combining private and public mobility systems.” The goal must be to offer genuine integrated mobility, she said. That is why the future lies in car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure systems.
“To handle these challenges, we need common standards in many areas,” Samardzich said. “We know that harmonization is no easy task.”
But she said she is personally convinced that the desires of customers worldwide will drive developments forward. “I still stand before you as a ‘digital immigrant,’ but our children are already ‘digital natives.’ We have to keep up with the pace of development.”