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Stellantis pushes for next-generation software-enabled vehicles

Existing and new models to be made compatible with over-the-air updates

Aside from low-emissions vehicles, software is a big part of Stellantis's plans. IMAGE FROM STELLANTIS

To give you a quick brief, Stellantis is a powerhouse automaker that delivers mobility solutions across the planet. Under the company’s vast portfolio, it encompasses brands like Maserati, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Citroen and Peugeot, just to name a few.

As part of its strategic masterplan for a more sustainable mobility future, the company is launching its software objective to improve the lives of its growing customer base. The shift (starting in 2024) involves going from current electronic architectures to an open-software-defined platform that easily integrates with the digital lifestyles of its customers. Three new AI-based tech platforms will be deployed under this initiative: STLA Brain, STLA Smart Cockpit and STLA AutoDrive.

The idea here is to be able to utilize the technology even with not-so-new vehicles, keeping them fresh and relevant for years to come via over-the-air updating. The software objective is in line with Stellantis’s vehicle-electrification plans, targeting over 70% of its low-emission vehicle sales in Europe and over 40% in North America by 2030.

Even existing vehicle models are part of the initiative. IMAGE FROM STELLANTIS

The company is investing a whopping €30 billion (P1.7 trillion) through 2025 for the said initiative. Of course, profitability is part of this large investment as Stellantis foresees a payoff of roughly €4 billion (P226 billion) per annum starting in 2026, and reaching around €20 billion (P1.13 trillion) in revenues from subscriptions and offerings come 2030. This equates to majority of new vehicles to be fully OTA-compatible by 2024, and expects 34 million monetizable connected vehicles in 2030. As of today, Stellantis already has 12 million such vehicles.

To make this venture possible, Stellantis has partnered with Foxconn and Waymo. The former is tasked to design a set of purpose-built microcontrollers to support the company and third-party customers. The development of four families of chips will provide approximately 80% of Stellantis’s needs beginning in 2024. On the other hand, the latter provides vehicle-autonomy tech via its Waymo Driver program, and the partnership will be focused on commercial-vehicle development. Waymo engineering teams will receive Stellantis prototypes starting next year.

Waymo will be helping out with its experience in autonomous cars. PHOTO FROM WAYMO

Elaborating further on the company’s three new tech platforms, STLA Brain is a service-oriented architecture completely integrated into the cloud that connects electronic control units within a vehicle through its central high-performing computer via a high-speed data bus. It contains 30 modules (as opposed to the current 10 modules), making it significantly more flexible and is fully OTA capable.

Built on top of the STLA Brain is STLA SmartCockpit. Designed to seamlessly integrate the digital lives of the vehicle’s occupants, STLA SmartCockpit creates a third living space. The significance of this platform is based on data revealing that customers spend an average of four years of their lives in their cars. It delivers AI-based applications that include voice assistance, navigation, and e-commerce services.

STLA AutoDrive, which was codeveloped with BMW, will offer autonomous driving on Levels 2, 2+ and 3. This platform will receive continuous upgrades through OTA updates.

At this point, it is very clear that the fourteen brands under the Stellantis umbrella will be future-ready thanks to the massive endeavor of this large-scale transformation project. Initially, the company is creating a software and data academy to retrain over a thousand internal engineers to develop its software community. Stellantis is hiring top software and AI experts and aims to have 4,500 software experts around the world by 2024 to ensure efficient operations of its vast network.

Manskee Nascimento

Manskee is a music-loving petrolhead who specializes in car care. He finds peace in long drives to and from his home in La Union.