BMW is expanding its network of enviable partners to take on Mercedes and Tesla in the race to develop self-driving cars.
The Munich-based automaker added Delphi to the list of partners aiding its effort to develop an autonomous driving platform by 2021 that can be sold to other automakers. Delphi, an automotive parts supplier spun out of General Motors in 2011, will join Intel and Mobileye in the consortium.
All four parties declined to elaborate on the financial relationship between them and how that will play out when they begin licensing the platform at the start of the next decade during a press call with journalists Tuesday. Delphi’s partnership with BMW, Intel, and Mobileye is non-exclusive.
The move further positions BMW to take on Mercedes and Tesla in both self-driving-car development and the collection of vehicle data.
Delphi has snatched up several startups, like Movimento, so it can release a suite of software products that would allow automakers to make over-the-air updates, a strategy pioneered by Tesla, Bloomberg reported in April.
Delphi has also invested in Israeli startup Otonomo, which is helping Mercedes’ parent company Daimler and 8 other major automakers, sell car data to third parties.
The race to capitalise on the big data is growing fiercer. New vehicles on the road today are already collecting data by virtue of connected car platforms, but the addition of smart sensors to aid autonomous driving will only grow data sets.
McKinsey & Co. predicts car data could become a $US750 billion industry by 2030.
BMW’s alignment with Delphi will help position the automaker to compete more directly with Mercedes, which already uses Otonomo’s services. The German carmaker can also leverage its relationship with Intel, which invested $US250 million in the development of self-driving vehicles and big data in November.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich went so far as to call data “the next oil” when he made the investment last year.
There’s a lot moving parts in a consortium of this size, but Delphi CTO Glen De Vos said the normal tiered structure between suppliers and automakers is becoming less applicable as companies compete on developing a digital ecosystem.
Richard Rau, BMW’s vice president of sensors, said he believes these kinds of consolidations will occur more frequently over time. Ultimately, there will be a “fairly small” number of autonomous driving platforms shaping the market.
“In the long run there will on be a few platforms left,” he said.
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