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NowCar Mercedes-Benz SDV

Is the Next Step in the Auto Industry SDVs or Autonomy?

Written By, Jordan R

The auto industry is changing fast these days. So fast that the vehicle a consumer buys today won’t be the same as a car purchased as soon as three years from now. Automakers are making plays that will soon change the industry and turn the auto market on its head. Connected services, autonomy, and of course battery-electric power, the next major play in the industry will be vehicles that are more so a computer than a mechanical masterpiece, controlled by an operating system. We’re talking about software-defined vehicles (SDVs) once again.

One of the first automakers to announce an investment in SDVs was the Hyundai Motor Group (HMG). The parent group of the Kia Corp, Kia decided to test the early stages of SDV technology in the Kia EV9 with Kia Connect services. This wasn’t anything grand, but it was a first look at the Kia Connect service and how the Kia Connect Store could eventually develop with over-the-air (OTA) updates. Giving consumers a more personal touch to customizing the interior of their BEVs, we got a perfect look at Kia Connect in the Kia EV3 electric compact SUV. During the EV3 preview, we saw an NBA display theme, honoring the partnership Kia has with the NBA. We’ll be seeing a lot more features made available in the Kia EV4 and other future BEV models from Kia.

Battery-electric vehicle (BEV) automakers will most likely be the first ones to release SDVs into the auto market. Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis are starting to collaborate with some of the best technology partners, such as Microsoft and ChatGPT creator Open AI. For instance, Stellantis is developing STLA platforms with a ChatGPT-enhanced virtual assistant that makes talking to one’s car a much easier task than asking Amazon Alexa to play music. BMW is certain that establishing a high-performance software culture is the only way to move forward and get ahead in this changing market, but many automakers have already felt the sting of failure to launch an SDV that doesn’t give consumers a headache.

Along with SDVs come OTA updates that will introduce not just more personalization but more functionality. If SDVs are on the horizon, then right around the corner are autonomous cars. There are six levels of autonomy when it comes to self-driving car technology, and most vehicles revolve around level 2 and level 3 which make driving a car more relaxing and less stressful with advanced safety systems that use cameras and radar to help navigate the road. When automakers start to offer cars with Level 4 and Level 5 autonomy, those vehicles will be able to drive themselves in most instances. How does a dealership even sell that?

Some may hope that day will never come, but concepts like the Chrysler Halcyon would say otherwise. It’s a very large claim, but Chrysler has said the Halcyon will be completely autonomous. The automaker also said the driving range of the Halcyon is virtually limitless. We’d like to see them put their money where their mouth is. If Chrysler truly can make a BEV with an unlimited all-electric range (AER) and level 5 autonomy, the auto industry may as well close up shop. Nothing will beat that, which is why it sounds impossible. Automakers should stick to SDVs and making operating systems for vehicles before they leap into the self-driving car category – after all, at the end of the day, a high-performance computer will be needed to flawlessly run self-driving technology.

Want to learn more about SDVs and car-connected services? Follow along with us on NowCar social media.

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