In a surprising move, the Volkswagen Group is taking over BlackBerry’s European research and development centre in Bochum , Germany. This doesn’t mean that Volkswagen intends to compete in the mobile handset market. Instead, with the newly founded Volkswagen Infotainment GmbH, the Wolfsburg-based automotive group is further expanding its expertise and capabilities in the field of vehicle connectivity.
With its objective of interlinking vehicles and the surrounding world, the field of ‘connectivity’ forms a focal point of research and development within the Volkswagen Group that has seen rapid growth in recent years. New strategies and innovations are needed in order that interlinking driver and automobile with the infrastructure can be further optimised.
The exchange of information between vehicle and mobile devices, such as MP3 players, smart phones and car keys, is already taking place today. In the near future further forms of communication will become equally established: communication between vehicle and the driver’s home or office; communication between vehicle and filling stations, parking spaces and road infrastructure (car-to-X communication); and ultimately also from vehicle to vehicle (car-to-car communication). It will be possible in this way to provide drivers with very prompt information of any hold-ups or obstructions.
Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neußer, Member of the Board of Management Volkswagen Brand for the Development Division, explains: “Connectivity will be a key feature of the car of the future. Many customers are expecting connected vehicles of a new dimension in terms of convenience and road safety. Around the globe, our customers’ aspirations will change rapidly, leading to shortened cycles of innovation for systems and functions. In order to be able to meet these challenges it is necessary for us to broaden and expand our options through additional know-how.”
As such, Volkswagen itself is a member of the Open Automotive Alliance, a global alliance of technology and auto industry leaders committed to bringing the Android platform to cars starting in 2014 and their sister companies such as Audi, SEAT and Skoda are also members of the Open Automotive Alliance as well as Apple’s CarPlay.