Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
With more than 100 million lines of code in the modern car, advanced software features are testing the limits of the computer hardware under the hood. And it will only get worse: Electric, connected and automated cars will devour even more computing power in the future.
Why it matters: Automakers face an urgent need to redesign their vehicles' electronic architecture — essentially their brain and central nervous system — to handle the onslaught of advanced features that will one day allow cars to talk to each other and drive themselves.
The big picture: The software-driven shift will likely have massive implications for both the automotive and semiconductor industries.
The state of play: Today's cars typically have as many as 100 electronic control units (ECUs), each dedicated to a separate function — the engine, the window actuators or the lane-keeping system, for example.
What's happening: Carmakers are replacing all those ECUs with centralized computing platforms linked to the cloud. But a challenge is keeping infotainment systems separate from those that control the car.
What to watch: If the automobile evolves in the way cellphones, PCs and data centers did, there could be a lopsided contest to grab revenue, with a handful of winners and many losers, warns KPMG in a new report.
The bottom line: In the future, cars will be valued not by what's under the hood, but by the software-enabled safety, convenience, infotainment and self-driving features they provide to consumers.
GM plans 20 new EVs by 2023, including many Cadillac models. Photo: GM
While General Motors was announcing plans Thursday for a huge $2.3 billion battery factory to boost production of electric vehicles, a Toyota executive warned of a looming industry disaster, calling it "electrified armageddon."
Why it matters: Somebody is wrong. Either GM's heavy spending on battery-electric vehicles will be wasted, or Toyota will be caught flat-footed when the rest of the market goes electric.
What's happening: GM and Korea's LG Chem are forming a $2.3 billion joint venture to build one of the world's largest battery cell factories in Ohio, creating 1,100 new jobs.
What they're saying:
May Mobility's Little Roady shuttle in Providence, Rhode Island. Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
May Mobility, a self-driving electric shuttle company based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, just raised $50 million in a Series B financing round led by Toyota.
Why it matters: The vote of confidence is more than financial. Toyota has also selected May Mobility as one of its partners to develop autonomous transportation-as-a-service for future mobility platforms.
Background: May Mobility operates AV shuttles (still with trained backup drivers) in Detroit and Grand Rapids in Michigan, and Providence, Rhode Island.
The bottom line: May Mobility has raised $83.6 million since its founding in January 2017.
Failure: "It appeared that we had time": How the FAA missed a chance to save Jennifer Riordan (Michael Laris — The Washington Post)
Scary rides: Uber says 3,045 sexual assaults were reported in U.S. rides last year (Kate Conger — New York Times)
Empty pockets: Why Elon Musk is cash poor (for a billionaire) (Noah Kirsch and Alex Knapp — Forbes)
2020 Acura MDX A-Spec. Photo courtesy of Acura
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, the family took a road trip from Detroit to Toronto in the 2020 Acura MDX.
The big picture: The MDX is the best-selling three-row luxury SUV in America and it's easy to see why. Starting at $45,395, it's comfortable and has a premium feel, without being ostentatious or over-engineered.
My thought bubble: It would have been cramped with seven passengers, but with the third row folded down, we had plenty of room for four passengers, four suitcases and assorted other stuff.
After a couple of hours, I handed the wheel to my 23-year-old daughter, who is a great driver but was unnerved initially by the car's assisted-driving features like adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping technology, which nudges the car back to the center of the lane when it drifts too close to the lane markings.
Editor's note: The top story was corrected to show Aptiv will unveil an open-platform smart vehicle architecture and is currently in discussions with various automakers on it.