Is software slowly taking over the automotive industry, with cars becoming more like glorified computers on wheels?
What do you find to be the most important thing in a car? Is it the high-tech features, the voice assistant, the Apple CarPlay, keyless entry, preconditioning, the ability to park or even partially or fully drive itself? Or, is it more important that your car looks the part and has a high-powered engine with a sports exhaust, painted callipers with performance brake discs, limited-slip differential, launch control, be rear or all-wheel drive and have an engine that’s turbo or supercharged?
This isn’t a question of whether you prefer sports cars or more luxurious and comfortable cars, but rather a question of is good software becoming more in demand than good hardware. As the world moves towards electric cars, the focus on advanced software features in cars seems to be stealing more and more of the spotlight that good car hardware used to have.
The Tesla Model 3, for example, was the UK’s best selling car model in June this year and with a price tag that starts from £41,000 and ranges all the way up to £60,000, it can make one wonder if the world has lost its mind. Why wouldn’t you get an M3 or a Porsche Macan or even an E-Class Estate for those looking for something more sensible?
Well, the world hasn’t lost its mind because the Model 3 is actually still incredibly fast, one of the safest cars you can buy, costs little in running costs and can even drive itself. The only thing it’s really lacking is style.
Volvo has announced that they will be taking the development of their cars’ operating systems in-house. In other words, they’re investing in their tech and many other manufacturers are doing the same. Nowadays it matters less and less whether the car has a V6 or a V8 or if it’s turbocharged or supercharged.
In their press release, Volvo states that software development will be taken in-house as “a car’s appeal increasingly becomes more defined by software-driven functions and features, rather than traditional automotive attributes.”
Will the automotive industry have more programmers than mechanical engineers in ten years time? Volvo even go as far as to compare their future cars to smartphones by saying “Just like on your smartphone or computer, new software and features can be rolled out swiftly through over-the-air updates”.
Tesla appears to have set a precedent for tech-based cars and just like many things in life, the software is becoming an increasingly important part of what makes it. At the moment cars can be described as cars with computers in them but in the near future, will they become computers with wheels? We’re already swapping out the engine for a battery it would seem that there are only a few more steps to go!
So, what’s more important? The ability to watch Netflix in your car or the way your car feels to drive?
Let us know what you think, in the comments below.
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