The Car of the Future: Smart, Connected, and Always Online

The automotive industry is facing a major upheaval: the digital car is coming. The foundation stone for this revolution has been laid in Regensburg.

The last combustion engine is expected to roll off the production lines in the EU by 2035 at the latest. The changeover to electric drives is currently the subject of a heated debate and is expected to become one of the greatest challenges in the history of the automotive industry. However, Lutz Höppner, Head of the Automotive Business Unit at intive GmbH, and a man with over 20 years of experience as an executive in the automotive sector, views things quite differently.

What will be the car of the future?

According to him, the type of drive as such is going to be of secondary significance: "In 2035, we will have a very different understanding of mobility. The type of drive will then play a subordinate role. The car of the future will be smart, connected and always online." Rather, what Höppner sees as a major challenge for the automotive industry, is digitization. In addition to autonomous driving, he counts artificial intelligence, virtual development and IT security among the major future trends in mobility and describes the car of the future as a highly flexible platform that will combine all these features - and offer much more besides. "Excitement, flexibility and personalization options will make the difference in the future. Intelligent, and, above all, always selectable systems, modules and apps will be what people are going to use to identify with their cars", he says.

Software enables the car of tomorrow

Automakers are therefore facing a revolution that goes far beyond the form of the drive: away from the "old school" architecture relying on distributed and hardware-based systems, and toward software-oriented and modular solutions. The developers at intive Automotive caught on to this trend when it was just beginning. For 14 years since, the company has acted as a partner to market-leading automotive manufacturers at the interface between automotive and IT, supporting them in software-related future issues and thus building a powerful leverage in the industry. As an internationally operating company, intive Automotive can draw on a wealth of experience in areas that are largely outside the automotive world - on web and mobile development, embedded software engineering, cloud solutions, and product and UX design.

From this unique perspective, intive aims to digitally reshape the traditional automotive world. "I am positive that thanks to this approach, we are a hidden champion", says Höppner. Combining digital domain expertise with the latest mobile solutions, such as autonomous driving, is one of intive Automotive's key strengths, while connectivity and human machine interface are two others. This is precisely where Höppner sees the great opportunity, because the user-centric handling of networked systems is the decisive differentiator in the car of the future - and developing future-oriented operating concepts is intive Automotive's great strength. "Nowadays, everyone is permanently online and heavily reliant on their smartphone. They transfer this expectation to mobility as well. Smart systems that can be operated intuitively make the difference in the car of tomorrow, not the paint job or nice rims."

As an automotive software developer, intive Automotive works to unite two different worlds: Software-based applications are in constant flux and apps update virtually every day, while, in contrast, vehicle development takes years. "It's understandable why development cycles in the automotive industry take so long; but when you consider how quickly the rest of the world evolves in the same period of time, they're no longer up to date," says Höppner. His goal with intive Automotive is to quickly transfer technologies that are already state of the art elsewhere to the automotive environment. "In our industry, you're either fast or you're left behind; and if you step on the gas, you have to know where you're going," said Höppner in April, when he was introduced as intive's new Head of the Automotive Business Unit.

New center for software development

A lot has happened since then. intive is currently building a new center for digital software development at the Regensburg Techcampus, the Techsquare. In May 2022, the company plans to move into its new headquarters with space for up to 400 employees. The modern building is located in the direct vicinity of universities and established high-tech companies – an ideal breeding ground for the development of innovative future technologies. "We are ideally positioned to accompany the automotive industry on its way into the future. With the changes we‘re implementing, we will soon be known far beyond the borders of Bavaria and Germany," says Höppner.

Read also: Digital transformation in automotive sector!

(Article originally published in Wirtschaftszeitung)

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