Economy

Daimler: Software backlog on Tesla & Apple is growing, says auto expert

Daimler boss Ola Källenius.

REUTERS / Michael Dalder

Daimler boss Ola Källenius tries a little magic shortly before the turn of the year. He quotes Clarke’s law, according to which “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. So there was great pathos before the top manager presented his company’s software strategy at his keynote speech last Sunday.

The vehicle of the future will be a “mobile device” on four wheels, and the software will be the competitive factor. The Daimler cars will receive software updates for their “life”, which continuously expand the functionality and value of the vehicle, says the Daimler boss. The latter is actually a novelty, as cars usually have their highest value at the moment of purchase – or much later than classic cars. The software updates are supposed to change that.

This also opens up a new area of ​​business for Daimler. Some updates will only be available in a subscription model that the car owner will have to pay for, says Källenius.

In his presentation, the Daimler boss underlines the central importance of software for the car – and for the company. It is nothing less than the brain of the vehicles. And Daimler is doing everything in its power to regain control of this brain – without foregoing external expertise.

“Open admission that Daimler is years behind Americans”

“Källenius has finally recognized it: The software will be one of the decisive competition criteria of the future. The German carmakers turned a blind eye to this for too long, ”says car expert Sahin Albayrak. He is a professor at the TU Berlin and head of the DAI laboratory.

“The innovations that the Daimler boss introduced for his cars have been around at Tesla for many years. The software updates, for example, as well as the subscription model. To be honest, the Stuttgart company’s digital presentation was more of an open admission that they are years behind the Americans. “

But it is not just the prominent competitor Tesla that is setting up a factory for the German carmaker in Grünheide in their own territory. Apple is about to step onto the global auto scene. The US group can be really dangerous to Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen, says Albayrak. In the field of software, the Californians have significantly more skills than the three German carmakers put together. “So far, Apple has been under the radar and has tinkered with the vehicle software without much fanfare. The air is now getting thin for Daimler, ”says Albayrak.

Apple has three specific advantages over its German competition: The company is a leader in the software sector, has advanced research in the field of artificial intelligence and years of experience in the field of platform economics, says the auto expert. All three fields will be important in the future.

What Apple undoubtedly lacks is the knowledge and experience in the technical construction of vehicles. But that is irrelevant, says Albayrak. Apple could have the vehicles put together by external service providers according to their own design requirements. In the future, the body and components will no longer be so important, but the best software that controls the car, says the car expert.

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