Interviews, Smart Mobility, Software

Fiat Group: Striking Tasks in automotive apps evolution

Alberto Motta
Global Uconnect Program Manager, Fiat Group Automobiles

Alberto Motta
Global Uconnect Program Manager, Fiat Group Automobiles

we.CONECT spoke with Alberto Motta, R&D Global Uconnect Program Manager at Fiat Group Automobiles about striking tasks in the automotive apps evolution. Alberto Motta has 20 years of experience in R&D, with special focus on the electronic field.

From the Research Center on design of electronic engine controls, he moved to Fiat Group and the design department of electrics and electronic systems of cars / car lines, with assignments worldwide, within Fiat and with the Joint Ventures. Nowadays, Alberto Motta is active in the infotainment and Telematics departments in the latest 2 years.

What role does your company play in the field of automotive apps and content development?

Alberto Motta: Fiat Group is highly involved in vehicle production – that is cars but also trucks, buses and agricultural machines with a global footprint. We are directing and implementing contents, which include apps, to customers. In some markets, the apps are in production to end users, in others in the development phase, depending on the maturity of the market.

What is your company’s most significant project with relation to automotive apps, user experience and content integration at the moment?

The project is called ‘Uconnect’, which is also the name of the internal team in charge to formulate specification, develop and run the operations. It is a complete E2E architecture which links the vehicles and the customers offering an array of services, in bidirectional way from the customer to the backend, and vice versa, together with a list of partners and operators under user’s choice.

Which critical trends and innovations can you identify in the evolution of auto apps and content development to play a growing role in the auto sector?

The trend shows a clear ‘invasion’ of field in the Automotive arena from companies and actors once limited to ICT, services, consumer electronics linked to the customers rather than the vehicles. There is a potential to link several worlds, as well as there is a struggle in how to orientate the development, in the means of what to open, what to protect, what to decide to evolve, what to let others decide to evolve, what is a potential feature to enjoy, what is a potential factor of disturbance and so on.

Which issues do you consider poorly developed or unresolved within the area of auto apps?

In my opinion, Vehicle to Infrastructure and Vehicle to Vehicle are issues not yet resolved. Infrastructure means public investments and standards in the European context with different possibilities and priorities at this point. The eCall legislation for example is showing this different speed among the states. Ultimately, apps in the automotive sector are offering services to fill gaps on information, services and traffic situations, which could be a part of agreements among governments.

From your point of view – Which are the conflicts arising between current and upcoming players in the auto app industry? How should they be handled?

Clearly the Internet of Things is considering a vehicle as an additional device, peripheral to some extent, or a way to exploit user’s habits to offer services not necessarily related to using a car, in a safe way, having fun or travelling. The Automotive Sector can embrace some of these new possibilities while keeping the focus on physical transportation. However, there is a growing concern about how to handle liability issues in an environment, which functions a web of contributors with ever different competences and objectives.

Can you name the most significant keys to a safe and fast integration of apps and mobile devices in the automotive cockpit?

From my experience, it is absolutely key to have a complete, robust and future-proof set of tools to define and manage contents from definition, to HMI, which are flexible to allow a variety of displays, voices, vehicle resources and power – such as bandwidth, processing capacity, memories – and perform testing, while guaranteeing backward compatibility to some level. Furthermore, automated environments and suites of test cases are of high value.

In your opinion, how will the dynamics in the automotive apps market change within the next 5 years? Which potentials do you see?

The evolution is already on the run, with apps being highly valued in brands and commercial offers, as they are linked to fresh, light and modern products thanks to consumer electronics. So the pressure for even faster time to market will increase. But the limited life cycle of some services and the complexity of the automotive environment and customer fragmentation is each time requiring higher investments with limited margins. In the next 5 years we foresee several mergers, possible acquisitions by carmakers of some companies and Tier1 suppliers and an increasing number of partnerships on the backend side.

Can you name the most significant keys to a safe and fast integration of apps and mobile devices in the automotive cockpit?

From my experience, it is absolutely key to have a complete, robust and future-proof set of tools to define and manage contents from definition, to HMI, which are flexible to allow a variety of displays, voices, vehicle resources and power – such as bandwidth, processing capacity, memories – and perform testing, while guaranteeing backward compatibility to some level. Furthermore, automated environments and suites of test cases are of high value.

Thanks a lot for this interview!

Interview Partners: Serina Gummert and Alberto Motta

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