Since November 2021, as if it was an appointment in advance, major domestic and foreign car companies have launched OTA upgrades for in-vehicle system update plans. Last year, it was only the patented OTA upgrade of Tesla and individual new energy vehicle companies. It has become a new wealth code to stimulate sales.
Among them, there are domestic car companies such as Dongfeng Junfeng, Geely, Beijing Automobile, and Trumpchi, as well as joint venture car brands such as SAIC-GM and FAW-Volkswagen. Recently, the old traditional car company Buick announced that it will launch an OTA upgrade plan covering 14 models, and the ID. family, the flagship series of Volkswagen’s transformation of new energy vehicles, also announced the news that the OTA upgrade will be implemented next year.
Car companies that have already provided OTA upgrade services for vehicles, such as Tesla, Ideal, Xiaopeng, Weilai and other brands, are also expanding and adding models that can be equipped with OTA upgrades on the original basis. For a while, the OTA upgrade of the whole vehicle seems to be the standard for new energy vehicles. Without this link, it seems that the value will drop several grades.
However, although OTA upgrade has already accumulated mature technology in the field of mobile phones, at the automotive system level, it has gradually entered the public eye due to the explosion of Tesla in the past two years. Even many people in the industry know about OTA. very little. Is such a temporary superficial frenzy just a false proposition?
Connect with IOT to pave the way for the next stage of autonomous driving
OTA upgrade can also be called space download technology. It was first applied to the online update function of mobile phone systems. It belongs to the iterative technology of flashing with the help of ROM firmware in traditional update methods. Nowadays, the update of mobile platform operating systems such as Android and IOS is also using this technology.
In 2000, some overseas car companies began to try to apply OTA upgrade technology to the automotive field, but this technology was also called T-BOX at that time, and its functions were limited to basic functions such as remote start, car lock, and road assistance. Then, with the development of science and technology and the continuous improvement of the mobile Internet system, OTA upgrades have really begun to be used for in-vehicle system updates.
Among them, the early OTA upgrade acts on the fuel vehicle platform, and mainly realizes the vehicle-machine system with partial entertainment functions, such as music player, navigation, CarPlay and other software. This type of technology, which focuses on in-vehicle software updates and upgrades, is also known as SOTA.
Nowadays, the vehicle OTA upgrade technology, which is sought after by major car manufacturers, is a firmware upgrade for the electrified architecture of the vehicle. It can continuously optimize the performance, driving experience, and energy consumption of the vehicle through program updates. This technology is called FOTA, and it was first applied to new energy vehicles. It was the first time Tesla launched the Model S (Configuration | Inquiry) in 2012 with the OTA air upgrade.
The earliest contact with Chinese Tesla owners was probably the V5.9 in-vehicle system that began to be updated for free in 2014. In subsequent updates, voice navigation services, automatic cruise, anti-collision and reversing assistance, automatic emergency braking, etc. have been implemented in turn. A feature that was extremely advanced at the time.
What really made everyone pay attention to the OTA upgrade of the whole vehicle is that in 2019, Tesla CEO Musk announced that he would add 50 horsepower and 12km of cruising range to the Model S out of thin air in the OTA update. The size of horsepower may only be suitable for some consumer groups with racing needs, but the increase in cruising range can directly alleviate the mileage anxiety of all new energy vehicle owners.
In addition, most of the current vehicle OTA upgrades are remotely controlled through mobile APPs, which has become a further extension of IoT-related application scenarios. In addition to the establishment of an independent closed-loop ecosystem under the IOT framework, the innovation of interaction methods brought by new energy smart vehicles has created a market demand for smart cockpits, which is inseparable from the support of OTA upgrade technology.
At the same time, in the OTA upgrade plans of the whole vehicle that some new energy vehicle companies have announced, there are many mass production functions related to automatic driving, such as navigation-assisted driving, one-key parking, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise, etc. It is not difficult to see that, in addition to being optimistic about the vehicle OTA upgrade business, the main purpose of major car companies is to pave the way for the next stage of autonomous driving scenarios.
At this stage, autonomous driving scenarios at home and abroad are being continuously laid, and related businesses such as unmanned distribution, unmanned taxis, and unmanned railways are already in the stage of being implemented. Through the OTA upgrade of the whole vehicle, you can make your own car products adaptable in advance. Equipped with the latest autonomous driving technology, it can seize the system advantage before the new changes in the industry environment.
Although the empowerment brought by technological advantages is obvious, the current stage of vehicle OTA upgrade is still in a relatively early stage, and there are additional risks that cannot be ignored.
There are many bugs, and OTA upgrades violate privacy?
The reason why car companies are rushing for OTA upgrades of complete vehicles is mainly based on the general trend of the continuous transformation of the automotive industry to artificial intelligence. In this industry environment, software-defined cars are gradually becoming a general consensus in the industry.
As a means of transportation, automobiles have always maintained the characteristics of being driven by power sources since their birth. In the era of steam power, machinery defines automobiles; in the electrical era, internal combustion engines define automobiles; in the information era, electronic parts define automobiles; in today’s new energy era, motors begin to replace engines, and software systems loaded with artificial intelligence have become a new definition. .
It can even be said that todays cars are already moving in the direction of software products. What determines the core competitiveness of future cars is no longer horsepower, mechanical performance, appearance and interior decoration, but the high intelligence of the entire vehicle system.
The highly intelligent vehicle system naturally also means that the number of software codes continues to rise. Especially for the high-end technological attributes of new energy vehicles, most high-end models have about 100 controller nodes, and the code size of the entire vehicle system exceeds 100 million lines.
In comparison, WeChat has about 500,000 lines of code; Android phones have about 12 million lines of operating system code; and Facebook, the worlds largest social media, has only about 62 million lines of code.
The huge number of codes means that there must be more bugs in the whole vehicle system, not to mention that Tesla’s reputation has plummeted this year due to negative information such as “pedal unresponsiveness”, “vehicle stall error report”, and “power lock”. Energy vehicles Xiaopeng, Weilai, and Ideal are also plagued by frequent bugs.
Although the OTA upgrade of the whole vehicle can fix bugs and solve the fault through timely and effective updates, but the car is different from other electronic products, the development and maintenance of the whole vehicle firmware program is extremely difficult, and it is difficult to completely avoid the software risk problem. In the road environment, any program bug may cause a direct life-threatening failure. Therefore, there are still many unsafe factors in the current OTA upgrade.
Moreover, under the current electronic architecture, the OTA upgrade time of electric vehicles is relatively long. In addition, when updating, it will enter the state where it must be shut down and restarted, just like the mobile computer. Update the OTA upgrade at the wrong place, causing the vehicle to stay on the road for a long time, which will cause serious traffic jams.
This directly exposes that the OTA upgrade technology of some manufacturers is not mature enough, and they have not done a fool-proof design to deal with the damage caused by the users operation error.
In addition to the OTA upgrade itself, highly intelligent automotive products are still inseparable from the framework of Internet traffic logic in the final analysis, and the core driving force of product design and update iteration is still big data. In order to perform more matching OTA upgrades and updates, software developers must master enough vehicle data and information, a large part of which may involve the personal privacy of car owners, and it is also a problem that cannot be solved in a short time.
Of course, all the existing defects will be solved with the application and development of related technologies. The high convenience and user experience of vehicle OTA upgrade, as well as the advantages of greatly reducing vehicle recall costs, still have great advantages. Market potential. Just from the perspective of policy and market environment, it will take a long time for it to be truly implemented.
OTA landed, unable to abandon fuel vehicles
Recently, as Shaanxi, Guangdong, Henan and other domestic provinces and cities have successively introduced policies and plans to support the development of the new energy vehicle industry, and the recent 14 consecutive rises in oil prices, the sales of new energy vehicles ushered in a new round. rise. At the same time, the market penetration rate of new energy vehicles has reached a level of 13% as of the second half of this year.
Its just that although from the data point of view, the new energy vehicle market has embarked on a rapid growth path, and it may not be long before fuel vehicles can be completely replaced. But in fact, these data are based on the environment of out-of-control international epidemic, chip shortage, battery shortage, etc., the overall production and sales volume of the automotive industry is showing a state of continuous shrinking.
Moreover, in August this year, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued a management opinion on intelligent networked vehicles, requiring that manufacturers cannot add or update autonomous driving functions for cars through online software updates without approval. The scene purely built by new energy vehicles and driverless technology is likely to have a very long way to go before it actually hits the ground.
Therefore, despite the obvious growth in penetration rate and sales figures, the popularization of electric vehicles and the cultivation of the market environment still have a long way to go. For OTA upgrades that are not yet mature at the technical level and still need more market feedback and data support, perhaps the current stage is not the time to abandon traditional fuel vehicles.
High-tech new energy vehicles are of course the product platform most suitable for OTA upgrade technology, but it does not mean that traditional fuel vehicles cannot use FOTA core OTA technology.
For example, Geely Xingrui, Beijing Auto Rubiks Cube, Ford EVOS (configuration|inquiry) and other models are loaded with OTA upgrade technology on the basis of traditional fuel vehicles. Although OTA upgrades are too high for car hardware, and the adaptations of different systems and power-driven versions are different, OTA is extremely difficult for most traditional car companies, but traditional car companies led by Buick and Volkswagen are actively deploying OTA upgrade also proves that it is not impossible for manufacturers with technical accumulation and resource strength.
The current OTA upgrade technology, like new energy vehicles, is still in the stage of cultivating the market, but it does not mean that OTA upgrade cannot become an independent track for R&D and operation in the name of additional services. From the OTA upgrade related search of Tianyancha, it can be found that there are already 154 companies engaged in related businesses, and many of them have accumulated for many years.
Tesla launched an OTA paid upgrade service to improve vehicle acceleration last year, priced at 14,100 yuan, and then launched an optional OTA upgrade paid package that unlocks seat heating and steering wheel heating. Similarly, many car companies are gradually promoting OTA upgrade payment, such as the 2,750 yuan paid upgrade package for the Geely Xingyue L (configuration|inquiry) hybrid model, the Volkswagen ID series or the paid option to be launched in the future, etc. Wait.
For the core factor of future competition in the automotive field, the user experience of car owners is also an important part. These paid services can not only effectively improve the user experience, but also bring additional stable income to manufacturers while enhancing user stickiness. At this stage, it is very popular, and it has the advantages of both fuel vehicles and electric vehicles, but also brings together the two defects of hybrid vehicles. There may be a greater demand for OTA upgrade payment options that can significantly improve performance and experience.
In general, even though vehicle OTA upgrades are more of a gimmick now, based on the fact that cars are gradually becoming software products, OTA upgrades have vaguely shown a trend of becoming mainstream. As long as it can overcome the various deficiencies at the current stage, it will surely become a potential stock that can increase investment no matter how much.