Automakers should avoid creating closed software operating systems for their cars or face increased costs, a senior executive with chip supplier Qualcomm said.
Closed versus open operating systems is a key debate in the automotive world as manufacturers rush to develop new interfaces and connectivity to put their cars more on par with the smartphone industry.
"We do not support the vertical model where a player is doing whatever he does, but not making it available to anyone else," Enrico Salvatori, head of Qualcomm Europe, said in an interview with Automotive News Europe.
The closed, or vertical model, is more costly than an open or horizontal system that uses common elements on the hardware and software, Salvatori said. "It can create economies of scale and that reduces the bill of materials, thanks to the volume," he added.
BMW last year spoke out against automakers using closed systems. "It's a mistake when everyone develops their own operating system, that is a dead end," BMW head of development Frank Weber told Germany's Süddeutsche Zeitung in September.
Weber said closed systems risk "endangering the proven supplier networks in Germany, Europe and beyond," he added as compatibility is lost.
Tesla is the most obvious example of an automaker using a largely closed operating system as part of wider philosophy of vertical integration at the company.
Others such as Chinese company Nio are looking to follow the automaker's route, which is analogous to Apple's closed operating system in the world of mobile devices such as smartphones.
Qualcomm has benefited from the more open system of smartphones away from the Apple and its operating system. The chip supplier is working with automakers and Tier 1 suppliers such as Harman, Bosch and Continental to integrate its Snapdragon Digital Cockpit Platform that uses a powerful chip to control both connectivity and the 'digital cockpit' network of information screens.
The third-generation system is fitted to the new Opel Astra and Peugeot 308 compact hatchback, as well as the Renault Megane E-Tech Electric.
The U.S.-based company also signed an agreement with Renault to collaborate on the integration of Qualcomm's Digital Chassis system, with adds advanced driving technology within its domain.
Qualcomm uses a 'hypervisor' to allow its software to talk to differing operating systems. "We want to have an open hardware platform that is able to support many OS environments, many software ecosystems," Salvatori said.
Continental also spoken out for the need for a common platform that frees up automakers to design the differentiating elements that customers will see.
"More than half of the software content in a software-defined car is not going to be differentiated. It's going to be basically what's under the hood," Michael Huelsewies, head of architecture and software at Continental, said in an interview last year.
Another advantage is that automakers can add features faster via over-the-air updates.
"The value add is that it accelerates the development times so the automaker can continuously deliver appreciating features and functionalities to their customers," Huelsewies said.