In 2018, Volkswagen announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft to help accelerate the development of one of the largest dedicated automotive industry clouds, known as Volkswagen Automotive Cloud or VW.AC. Designed to provide a smart, and scalable foundation for connected vehicles, VW.AC is expected to handle data from millions of vehicles per day, with the goal of delivering connected experiences to customers around the globe starting in 2022 – a key part of the Volkswagen Group strategy to become a leading automotive software innovator.
‘We are now a global leader with our electric platforms and a broad range of electric vehicles,’ said Herbert Diess, Chief Executive Officer of the Volkswagen Group earlier in November 2020. ‘In the coming years, it will be crucial to also reach a leading position in-car software in order to meet people’s needs for individual, sustainable and fully-connected mobility in the future.’
To that end, the Volkswagen Group announced in November that it anticipates doubling its spending on digital development to approximately $28 billion over the next five years. Under the Car. Software Organisation, the large-scale software powerhouse for in-car software development in the Volkswagen Group, the automotive giant is building its own end-to-end software platform which includes VW.AC, an in-car operating system (VW.OS), and capabilities that will help enable the next generation of infotainment, vehicle performance, and passenger comfort up to automated driving.
‘Software decides how people will experience and use their cars in the future. We want to take advantage of these opportunities. The Automotive Cloud helps us realize new business functions like remote control services, electric vehicle charging scenarios, and over-the-air updates,’ says Dirk Hilgenberg, Chief Executive Officer of Volkswagen’s Car.Software Organisation. ‘We’re building a cloud that will scale to serve millions of customers around the world and will enable us to deliver ever-increasing customer value much faster.’
Zoran Lazovski, Chief Executive Officer at VW.AC leads the team of almost 200 experts and counting. He says basing the unit in Seattle has enabled Volkswagen to attract many cloud computing experts who are passionate about building software for an automotive company that sells more than 10 million vehicles worldwide every year.
‘We invent very quickly here at VW.AC. To do that, we’ve built a value-led culture that is rooted in trust, accountability, teamwork, innovation, and integrity,’ he added. ‘We’re organized into small, agile teams that use remote mob programming, overall retrospectives, and other methods to collaborate and continuously improve the way they work. We also actively seek to create teams made up of people with different backgrounds and experiences because diversity leads to better ideas, solutions, and experiences.’
Currently, the Volkswagen Group writes less than 10 per cent of the software embedded in its vehicles, the rest of which is tied to third-party-owned proprietary software. With efforts like the Car.Software Organisation and VW.AC, the Volkswagen Group aims to write 60 per cent of the vehicle software in the next few years, providing a foundation for truly integrated end-to-end software.
‘With our development work here in the Northwest, Volkswagen is building up specialist knowledge and core software competencies in cloud innovation for the entire Volkswagen Group. Our platform will enable developers from Car. Software Organisation and beyond to quickly and easily build and deploy applications, leverage real-time data, and speed time-to-market,’ said Lazovski.