Rise of software-defined vehicles

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Majority of the Automotive OEMs are at the initial stage of strategic software transformation. To harness the full potential of software transformation, OEMs need to develop new capabilities to ensure future vehicles remain relevant & exclusive per the disruptions and aligned with the future revenue models around disruptions.

Consumers are ready for software-defined vehicles

Software-defined vehicles, digital continuity, and artificial intelligence hold the key to a future of value in the automotive industry. Consumers see automobiles as more than just a means of transport. They are incrementally looking for features such as ADAS and autonomous-driving capabilities, immersive infotainment, connectivity, and vehicle data networks.

According a recent survey conducted by the Capgemini Research Institute, 56% of customers will make purchasing decisions based on whether the vehicle in question has sustainable connected services and 53% are willing to change car brands to get them. Software plays a key role in realizing consumer expectations and also addresses challenges related to road safety, traffic congestions, and sustainability.

Automakers are developing centralized software systems to control the vehicle by eliminating many embedded electronic control units. The plan is to replace several ECUs with a new electrical and electronics architecture using high-performance computers and domain controllers. Standardized software solutions and service-based offerings will uplift the adoption of software-defined vehicles. Consequently, software-defined vehicles will lead the way to autonomy and solve real-time problems and challenges.

Software defined vehicle: A smartphone on wheels?

The rise of software-defined vehicles is analogous to the smartphone revolution. Software has played a key role in the evolution of smartphones. They have become more than just a means of communication with several features that facilitate our day to day lives. It is interesting to compare and contrast the many features of smartphones in the context of software-defined vehicles. The table below illustrates a structured approach revealing a scheme of creative and ingenious ideas/features that could be incorporated in a software-defined vehicle drawing close inspiration from the smartphone revolution:

Features Smartphone Software-defined vehicle Advantage
Compute High-performance microprocessor and central operating systems New centralized electrical and electronics architecture using high-performance computers and domain controllers
  • Simplified central architecture
  • Boosts AI implementation


Operating systems Open- and closed-source operating systems Open-source software operating systems and service-based offerings could be a key to faster adoption
  • Faster adoption
  • Software standardization
  • Service-based offerings
  • New revenue streams
Software Upgrades Add-on features and security upgrades via OTA updates Deploy new features and capabilities through OTA updates
  • Constant user experience improvement
  • New revenue streams
Apps Enable on-demand add-on features such as productivity tools, games, lifestyle, etc. Similar add-on functions and on-demand features.
  • Consumer centricity
  • Infotainment
Security Built-in security systems, add-on security through antivirus software Need for development of built-in security systems and provision for add-on security functions.
  • Cybersecurity and theft protection
  • New revenue streams
Hands-free operation Through advanced digital voice assistance Hands-free operation can be taken to the next level using AR/VR tools.
  • Immersive user experience
Unlock Through fingerprint scanners and facial recognition scanners Fingerprint unlock, facial recognition technology, and other biometrics can be adopted for car unlock.
  • Ease of access
  • Innovation
  • Improved consumer experience
Customization Option to choose between different RAM and storage options Can offer similar features to customers to choose between various processor, ram, etc. based on functionality
  • Customization
  • Modularity
Connectivity Bluetooth, 5G, NFC, Wi-Fi, hotspot, etc. Wireless transmission of actuation signals within the car via Bluetooth, Wifi, and 5G, etc. could reduce the complexity of the wiring harness.
  • Empowered edge
  • In-vehicle data networks
  • Connected cars
Camera Built-in cameras for photography and video conferencing Can adopt external camera for scenic photography
  • Photography
  • User experience
Productivity Several productivity apps and tool that help you A future car may help you plan your day, work through the journey or may even displace your laptop while boarded.
  • Productivity
  • Lifestyle
Entertainment Games, videos, social media, etc. provide user entertainment Incorporating similar features into a car will take infotainment features to the next level
  • Consumer experience
  • Infotainment
Wireless charging Capability to charge wireless Wireless charging infrastructure for EVs
  • Ease of use


The above exercise reveals a host of innovative and engaging ways in which we can elevate the features of software-defined vehicles and make them a bigger part of our daily lives. As is the case with smart phones, software becomes the key differentiator and provides a competitive advantage that drives the automate ecosystem. Centralized software architecture, service-based software offerings, and co-developments will help the industry scale up and drive transformation to a software-defined dream car.

However, most OEMs are only at the beginning of their software transformation, with a small cohort of  “frontrunners” establishing a strong early lead. To catch up and harness the full potential of software transformation, OEMs need to:

  • Build a software-focused vision and strategy
  • Leverage software tool chains and agile methodology to foster greater collaboration across organizational units
  • Forge long-term, strategic partnerships with software and technology service providers on key software frontiers.

To learn more about Capgemini’s approach to and experiences in helping OEMs build a software-defined dream car, please reference our CRI report Next Destination Software or, in India, contact: Roshan Batheri, Siddhardha Reddy, or Vaibhav More.

Key Contact:

Roshan Batheri

Roshan Batheri
Sr. Director Automotive India Industry Platform at Capgemini
Keynote Speaker | Digital & Cloud Platforms | Innovation

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