Infotainment specialist Harman, a division of Samsung, is positioning itself to automakers as a provider of "experiences" through connected technology, and it has recently won a major contract to supply the technology for BMW's first 5G-connected car, the iNext SUV. COO Michael Mauser -- who will take over as CEO on April 1 -- spoke with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Nick Gibbs at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas about how Harman is making the connected car more cost efficient.
What are automakers seeking in the dashboard of the future?
They are looking for experiences. The role of the dashboard has been changing quite dramatically. When I started with Harman 22 years ago, there was no interaction, no connectivity. The second you bought the system, it was already obsolete. Customers now have expectations taken from their smartphone experience. That's the reason we have seen the revolution to a fully connected digital cockpit.
What can connectivity bring?
With connectivity comes personalization. Consumers want to personalize their experience in the car such as the lighting or the music. But that is not the end. It will become intelligent, which means providing the services even without asking you. Knowing where you are and then delivering location-based services, for example.
How can automakers deliver this in a cost-effective way?
There are many, many ECUs [electronic control units] but in many cases they are redundant. You have an ECU for the amplifier, another for the external amplifier, for rear seat entertainment, for the instrument cluster. But chip processing power is so high now that you can create a computing platform to control all of these separate features. We can cut costs by integrating these functions.
What's driving this change?
The consumer. They will pick the car that offers the best user experience. When I bought a car, horsepower and rpm performance were very, very important. But consumers are expecting more from a car than just horsepower. They want to have an experience. So, the business model very likely will change dramatically. Over the lifetime of the car, you are upgrading it with new features.