Volkswagen teams up with Microsoft and Stanford researchers

The development of the “Volkswagen Automotive Cloud” called for a strategic alliance between the German manufacturer and a digital partner, which has been announced as Microsoft; news that will surely accelerate the German giant’s digital transformation. Volkswagen will therefore become a “connected mobility provider” and the “Volkswagen We” program will clearly focus on sharing resources.

“Volkswagen is harnessing technology to digitally transform and deliver innovative new connected car services to its customers,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “The world’s leading companies run on Azure, and we are thrilled that Volkswagen has chosen Microsoft. Together we will reimagine the driving experience for people everywhere.”

Hyper-connected vehicles by 2020

Therefore, when it was announced that nearly 5 million vehicles would be fully connected by 2020 (in just 2 years’ time), it seemed that Microsoft’s Azure platform came at just the right moment to make the project work. Customer services, vehicle networks and the mobility ecosystem network will all in fact be gathered in the cloud. Once again, the challenge of digitalization lies in the ability to store and analysze huge amounts of data. Not far from Microsoft’s headquarters in the United States, Volkswagen are is building a head office dedicated solely to the development of the Volkswagen Automoative Cloud. Nearly 300 engineers will work there as part of the partnership: enough to develop collaborations with the entire mobility ecosystem and invent new solutions. This “hub” will be the largest research centre dedicated to this sphere.

Volkswagen also invests in non-polluting vehicles

But Volkswagen does not only invest in the connectivity of its fleet: it has, like its competitors, embarked on the road towards non-polluting vehicles. Electric cars will account for a quarter of vehicle sales before 2030, which raises the key issue of batteries and the rare raw materials that these vehicles are equipped with today. For this reason, Volkswagen has launched another technological partnership, this time with Stanford University, that aims to invent an alternative to the platinum used in fuel cells. The precious metal currently makes the use of this technique much too expensive. The research carried out concerns the drastic reduction in platinum volume necessary for performance, while other emerging projects are looking to create new methods of storing electricity.

The stakes for the future of the group

No doubt our next vehicles will be electric, self-driving and ultra-connected all at once. Major manufacturers are working on all fronts to cope with the innovations needed to simultaneously adapt their offering to the conditions of travel in megacities, the urgency of global warming, as well as the integration of connected objects into the everyday life of passengers. The future of car manufacturers, no matter how powerful, now depends on their ability to form strategic alliances with the most advanced researchers science has to offer. Without them, it will be impossible to withstand the arrival of “pure players”, companies such as Tesla or Google, who see mobility as an ideal market for their technologies.

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