Automakers Moving Software Teams To Silicon Valley

The synergy between automobiles and mobile devices is increasing with every iteration of a new product. From full iPod integration to device syncing and mobile apps, the vehicles of today behave more and more as a mobile office, rather than a simple means of transportation.

Computing needs and entertainment are now built-in within the navigation system and “car apps” become the center of this new, techy automobile world.

BMW simply calls them “BMW Apps”; Mercedes-Benz recently announced their own plans for an “Mercedes App Store;” Ford bets on the SYNC platform while Audi will split the apps into two: when vehicle is in motion and another when it’s stationary.

Photo Credit: Peter Abramov

The development of these car apps is moving to Silicon Valley. BMW has operated offices in Palo Alto, near Stanford University, since 1998. That same year, Volkswagen opened its Electronics Research Laboratory (VERL) in Palo Alto before later moving it to Belmont, about a mile from the headquarters of Oracle. General Motors established its Palo Alto research and development office in 2006 and has since developed technology partnerships with local companies such as Google, Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard.

The BMW Group Technology Office specializes in features such as so-called “mechatronics” (the integration of sensor technology), information and entertainment systems, and telematics.

It’s smart, then, that the often-slow-moving automakers are setting up satellite research and development centers in Silicon Valley,.

This week, Renault-Nissan joined GM, BMW and Volkswagen in opening an R&D office in northern California, considered the heart of U.S. technology innovation.

Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of the Renault-Nissan alliance, said he wants his companies to move just as quickly as any Silicon Valley start-up. “We need to be perceived as part of the solution,” Ghosn said at a Stanford University event.

As we advance towards 2012, expect some of the vehicles to be equipped with more innovative features that fully connect the drivers with their cars.

[Source: AutoObserver ]


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