back to article Car makers lock in long-term deals with chip giants for future autonomous vehicles

The battle between chip giants in the autonomous vehicle space isn't a two-horse race like it was for desktop PCs. Car makers have a somewhat wider choice of silicon vendors. At CES, Intel, Qualcomm, and Nvidia emerged as leaders in that race, with top automakers locking in long-term commitments on chipsets, components, and …

  1. Lon24 Silver badge

    EV EOL

    I bought an EV. I asked the salesman what the hardware/software support eol was. He looked confused. I didn't get an answer. I still bought it. Was I wrong?

    Whereas my 30 year old Suzuki will, hopefully, will run for many years yet.

    1. Chris G

      Re: EV EOL

      "Was I wrong?"

      Depends on who you ask, the manufacturers who are landfill afficionados or someone who cares more about sustainability than selling the latest shiny to a gullible public.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: EV EOL

        OP said he asked a salesman so that's clear enough.

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: EV EOL

      The end of software support won't stop the car from working as a car, but it might lose some features unrelated to its ability to drive from point A to point B (obviously that's not true for self driving vehicles, when those appear) A phone that no longer gets software updates still works just fine as a phone years later, even if it might no longer work well or at all as say a GPS or web browser.

      There will need to be laws that mandate hardware support (or release of all information necessary for a third party to do it) though I expect someday we'll see some automaker(s) with a lot of EVs on the road go bankrupt and leave everyone in the lurch.

      For autonomous vehicles software support will have to be mandated, at least for fixes for known problems that can cause injury or death. Might be a good idea to require companies that enter bankruptcy to be required to either sell their software IP to a third party who will take over responsibility for maintaining it, or release it under some GPL like license (yeah that's probably not going to happen since such software would also certainly contain some licensed closed source pieces...)

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: EV EOL

        "it might lose some features"

        Its clock might reset to 2002.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: EV EOL

          A lot of people successfully used VCRs that were flashing 12:00 for years

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: EV EOL

        You seem optimistic that the necessary legislation will be passed on time. It will be much easier for manufacturers to continue to own the vehicles, sweat them, retire them early and avoid all the hassle of product liability.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: EV EOL

      I'm not sure if you were wrong to buy an electric car, but you do have a valid point about reliability of software. However, thus far, car manufacturers have not been able to avoid liability by promising software updates. And the fact is that cars have been becoming increasingly dependent upon computers for well over a decade. Many vehicles produced since then cannot be serviced without sophisticated computer diagnostics.

      For various reasons, and certainly in cities, we're moving from car ownership to mobility as a service. This may mean renting or leasing a vehicle for a long period or booking one when you need it but it's definitely the way things are going: regular cashflow cushions manufacturers from the economic cycle and optimising vehicle use is good for the asset owner but also might help reduce pressure for parking spaces.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Good news, I guess

    Now, what happens when everyone has long-term deals and there's a drought ?

    Because no water means no chips, IIRC.

    1. Persona Silver badge

      Re: Good news, I guess

      Desalination works but needs lots of energy. Currently 3-10 kWh per ton of fresh water for a reverse osmosis plant.

      The cost of PV solar ( in the right parts of the world) continues to fall so desalination is getting cheaper and cheaper. That energy only costs 14 US cents in the best locations for solar.

      Water is just one of the cost drivers influencing where to locate fabs. Compared to the cost of a fab a suitably sized desalination plant is a rounding error.

  3. druck Silver badge


    Vehicle manufacturers are said to be getting comfortable with these chip suppliers after years of stringent testing and validation of self-driving systems for stability, safety and operation in harsh conditions.

    Not quite reality is it though? Letting these self propelled agents of death out on public roads with a barely functioning human not paying attention behind the wheel, and hoping it doesn't kill too many people, is more like it.

  4. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Road Experience Management

    Big trouble if this is hacked.

    Cue ransom demands such as "if you don't pay x, then we can engineer a collision of epic scale by uploading false data."

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Automakers are using conventional engineering approaches to integrate autonomous systems across car models"

    The one supplier hits problems and production stops for all models. It sounds as if they still haven't learned the lessons of relying on a single source.

  6. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    So this could be the end of iPhones and Android phones

    Remember back about 20 years ago when we saw the news "Phones are turning into moving computers, with sensors, and AI systems will be guiding phone calls" - so will this idea up upgraded to add the most powerful new processor, advanced high resolution dashboard cameras, and we'll be told that it has faster apps and pages, an all-day battery, and proactive help. We'll be told that the Google Pixie Car 8 Pro delivers all you need when you need it with adverts appearing in the windshield as you drive past stores.

    Phones will be upgraded to allow users to be driven around while they make phone calls, wheels are going to be added to the new phones.

  7. Marty McFly Silver badge

    It's all about the numbers...

    Car manufacturer: "We are going to sell 500k cars this year, and we need chips for all of them!"

    Phone manufacturer: "We are going to sell 500k phones this week, and we need chips for all of them!"

    Chip manufacturer: Hmmmm...Which customer should I keep happy, and which one can I delay?

  8. Sparkus

    It's always going to come down to

    who owns the fabs, how redundant/dispersed they are, and how close to full capacity they are running. Running a high-speed supply chain that has no elasticity is, well, just stupid.

    Multiply that by the discredited but not yet abandoned 'just in time' supply chain mess, and you have a recipe for "we aint' learned nothin this time either" repeat of recent events.......

  9. kiwimuso

    Don't care!!!

    Don't want any (more) of your electronic shit in my cars.

    I want a car of which I, and I alone control.

    I was taught to drive properly, and over the myriad years have picked up even more clues, such as concentrating on my driving, rather than all the flim-flam crap they keep putting in to distract us.

    My current car has the maximum electronics with which I will tolerate and even that is too much at times.

    Really, why would I trust a car that when one depresses the accelerator, hesitates before giving me the power I asked for. Great when merging or pulling out into traffic with few gaps.

    Fortunately, I am of sufficiently advanced age to understand that my current vehicle is probably going to be my last.

    I would go for an EV (purely for the economics) if all the electronics did was control the drive train and battery usage. No "touch screen" controls for me, or so-called advanced features such as "lane assist" or "automatic braking". If I am paying attention WTF would I need that.

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