Prediction 1: Catena-X is actually going to have a chance.
Catena-X, the European alliance for data exchange in the automotive industry, aims to be an ecosystem to which the entire automotive value chain – automotive manufacturers and suppliers, dealers and equipment suppliers as well as the providers of applications, platforms and infrastructure – can contribute. We at Eclipse Foundation are convinced that when it comes to non-differentiating, non-competitive features, “cooperating in the open” under an umbrella such as Catena-X, has the potential to revolutionize the way organizations cooperate and compete. Catena-X mainly unfolds on the contractual level and will have a positive impact on supply chains in making them much more efficient.
Even though the automotive industry is very political, this initiative has a fair chance of success, especially since all involved players – from automotive manufacturers to OEMs to the tier suppliers – are extremely committed to this project. They seem to have understood that cooperation on non-differentiating features allows each player to be more competitive on the differentiating features.
In a world of global competition, the pain points are pressing, so motivations are high. Furthermore, if we consider the outlook for Catena-X, we find it very promising to see that organizations that are not naturally seen as automotive companies, like Deutsche Telekom and BASF, are also part of this alliance. To us, this is a clear sign that once it is up and running, it could well expand into other fields like the clothing industry or pharma when it comes to tracking supply chains.
No wonder organizations are investing significantly, even in these challenging times. We have hundreds of developers as well as corporate and public funding, so there will be a way to get rid of the historically built, error-prone ways of manually taking over data from one system to the other that have so far been slowing down the industry.
The only thing that might stand in the way of success for Catena-X is the automotive industry’s complexity and traditional competitiveness, but we still think it’s the right approach. The time is right and people in power seem willing to give it a chance.
Prediction 2: The automotive industry will collaborate and compete differently since they are no longer the top of the pyramid and they face growing competition from asset-light platform companies.
Nowadays, a car is much more than just a car. It provides entertainment, information, and a working environment. It is becoming a user interface just as much as it is a way to get from A to B. Therefore, there is a growing need for cooperation between big tech and the automotive industry. The approach that the automotive industry has gotten so used to will change because it is not necessarily the car manufacturers who will be selling the cars anymore. They are no longer the top of the pyramid.
Soon, car companies might be replaced by software and platform companies that will be operating a fleet of cars – and have access to the end customer. The car manufacturers might only be building cars, but remain unknown to the end customers. So in order to compete, car companies will need to generate scale and relevance. And this is exactly why they will have to build a joint platform integrating other industries; not only for technological reasons, but also from a human resources perspective. Software developers are rare these days, so it doesn’t make sense to engage them in the development of non-differentiating features but focus them on what is differentiating in competition in front of the end customer
From our perspective as an open source organization hosting many of the projects that define the automotive industry’s future, this new software-based approach and new model of collaboration does stand a chance — Not only because it is strongly supported by influential parties in the automotive industry, but also because it is seemingly the only way forward.
Prediction 3: Open source alone is not the silver bullet when it comes to autonomous driving.
Autonomous driving certainly is an important aspect for the future of mobility. Yet the real power that open source can bring to the automotive industry lies elsewhere. Our OpenADx Working Group, for example, is implementing interfaces between development steps.
Development in the area of autonomous driving is quite fragmented right now and the toolchain is quite often driven by startups who depend on marketing and selling proprietary solutions – an enormous hurdle for the car manufactures when it comes to finding a re-usable, sustainable approach to develop autonomous driving functions. Our open source-driven approach when it comes to specifications between different modules could therefore help leverage on technology. Operations managers would be in a position to select the best-in-class components and exchange them if needed. When it comes to overcoming those complexities, open source collaboration consortia like the OpenADX Working Group can offer valuable input for the industry. As things stand, however, this will ease the pressure, but not solve the complexities involved in making autonomous driving a reality.
We have identified three pillars where we see revolutionary potential for open source in the automotive industry in 2022. The first is in-car software plus backend. Here, we find that our initiatives around the software-defined vehicle as a real game changer. The second is production, where we are heavily involved with projects around digital twins and many more key technologies. The third pillar where open source technology has the potential to disrupt the automotive industry is general purpose IT – and this is what Catena-X is all about. In conclusion, the Eclipse Foundation sees enormous potential for open source in the automotive industry going into 2022.