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Partnerships accelerating automotive transformation

Dr. Rainer Mehl
3 Jun 2022

For decades, evolution in the automotive industry was easy to predict – new model ranges would be introduced every few years. They would be faster, more efficient, safer, nicer to look at, and more comfortable to travel in than their predecessors. Yes, we had some ‘disruptions’ – the catalytic converter, the switch from leaded to unleaded fuel, the introduction of the CD player, and then sat-nav, Bluetooth, and so on. All in all, though, it was slow, steady, predictable progress.

Today, the pace of change is on another level. Electrification, connected cars, autonomous and automated driving … more is happening today than arguably any other time in the history of the automotive industry. How can automakers and mobility companies keep pace on so many fronts at the same time?

The answer is through partnership and by bringing together the power of complementary leaders.

Partnerships in the automotive industry are not new, but the nature and number of partnerships announced in the first few months of 2022 alone indicate that they are increasingly influential to the success and speed of the industry’s transformation.

How and where are partnerships accelerating transformation in the automotive industry?


Mobility experiences of the future will be defined more by software than by the mechanics of what goes on under the hood. To reflect this, automakers are transforming into software-driven or software-enabled organizations, which means investing in their own capabilities (as Mercedes Benz recently announced), building new entities (e.g. CARIAD for the Volkswagen Group), investing in joint ventures (like Audi and Capgemini have done with XL2), or partnering up with companies with strong software experience (as Honda recently did with Sony). And it’s not just automotive companies that are partnering up – tech companies and service providers like Capgemini, Microsoft and Red Hat are also entering into partnerships like the Eclipse Foundation to decrease time-to-market, share best practices, and work together to overcome the war for talent and accelerate innovation in the industry.

Autonomous driving

Assisted driving is advancing rapidly and we see increasing evidence that autonomous driving is not far away (as shown recently by the VW ID.Buzz cruising the streets of Munich). It’s widely accepted that autonomous driving is part of the mobility future, but it requires huge investment in technology, acquisition of specialized know-how and expertise, and sharing of entrepreneurial burden. In just the last few months, we’ve seen partnership announcements by Cariad and Bosch, and by Argo AI, Ford, and Walmart – niche, software-focused tech companies partnering up with industry powerhouses to advance automated and autonomous driving and associated services.

EV charging 

Electrification and the notion of cars being fitted with re-chargeable batteries opens a range of new lifestyle and business opportunities. For now, it takes longer to charge an electric vehicle than it does to re-fuel a combustion-engine car. What can we do with that extra time? A quick workout, shopping, a haircut? Leading brands are already thinking ahead on your behalf to transform charging experiences into lifestyle experiences. Volvo and Starbucks are partnering with ChargePoint in the North-Western states of the US to give drivers the chance to get their electric power and caffeine kick in familiar, welcoming surroundings. This is just one example of how stops for a quick charge could become lifestyle experiences. A look at Electrify America’s vision of charging stations shows us that the charging experience represents a fertile space in which industries can converge and mutually beneficial partnerships can emerge.

Vehicles as mobile power packs

Bi-directional charging and the use of cars as stores of electricity represents a completely new use case for vehicles. In California, a state vulnerable to blackouts caused by incidents like forest fires, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company is partnering with GM and Ford to explore the use of electric vehicles to charge homes or to supply the grid with additional electricity. Given that a fully charged battery on a mid-sized electric vehicle could potentially power a home for a day or more, we can expect a lot of discussion about how vehicle-to-home (V2H) and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) can help balance the load placed on energy grids and increase the attractiveness and use cases of electric vehicles. Local and regional partnerships will be key to turning these ideas into reality.

In-vehicle experiences

Autonomous driving will transform mobility but while we wait for its arrival, there are incredible innovations taking place in the back seat. The partnership between Audi and Holoride and their fusion of vehicle data and physics with XR (extended reality) to deliver immersive gaming experiences for back-seat passengers takes in-car entertainment to a whole new level. And we’re yet to see whether Sony will bring any of its PlayStation magic to its joint venture with Honda. Thanks to partnerships, the future for backseat passengers looks bright. For drivers, expect to hear less “Are we there yet” and more of “Darn. Are we there already?”.

Why are partnerships important for automotive transformation?

As stated earlier, partnerships in the automotive industry are not entirely new, but the frequency, number, and nature of partnerships being announced these days is. There are several reasons this is happening:

  • Speed and scale of transformation requires external support. The extent of change currently taking place is, arguably, too big for OEMs to handle alone. Partnerships can help create the scale needed to make significant progress, fast.
  • Entrepreneurial burden needs to be shared. Game-changing technologies like autonomous driving and electrification require huge investment. Partnerships enable this burden to be shared.
  • Access to specialized skills and services. Software has been identified as a key area of focus by almost every leading OEM. But the transformation to being ‘software-driven’ takes time and investment. Through partnerships, car makers can tap into specialized skills and support and accelerate their progress.
  • Niche players can provide differentiation. Electrification and autonomous driving provide an opportunity for playing fields to be leveled and for new leaders to emerge. The right partnership with the right niche player (e.g. for a best-in-class in-vehicle experience) could be crucial to growing market share.

Expect more disruption, powered by partnerships

The partnerships mentioned above represent just a fraction of those agreed in recent months and years. Even from this snapshot, we can see that partnerships are both shaping the future of the mobility experience and accelerating the transformation. The lines between industries are becoming blurred – organizations from the worlds of software, utilities, consumer electronics, engineering, retail, and entertainment (not to mention telecommunication companies and their role in connected experiences and natural resources companies and their role in EV battery production) are all coming together to contribute to a thriving ecosystem that is pushing the transformation of the automotive industry faster than ever before.

Capgemini – a partner for accelerated automotive transformation

At Capgemini, we have embraced our role as a partner for key initiatives in the automotive industry by:

  • Creating XL2, a joint venture with Audi, aimed at building up the right skills for digital transformation in production and logistics at Audi.
  • Being part of the Eclipse Foundation, a working group of leading tech and tech-service companies united by the goal of developing an open technology platform for the software-defined vehicle of the future.
  • Being part of SOAFEE Special Interest Group, an industry-led collaboration intended to deliver a cloud-native architecture enhanced for mixed-criticality automotive applications with corresponding open-source reference implementations.
  • Forging alliances with industry-leading technology and engineering companies like Dassault Systems, PTC, Siemens, IBM (and Red Hat), Microsoft, Google, AWS, and Intel to ensure our clients can benefit from best-in-class solutions and constant innovation.

Deep dive into the power of partnership and learn how to accelerate your innovation journey with Capgemini’s latest TechnoVision for Automotive Playbook.