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Connected Car Weekly: From Personal Vehicles to Heavy Trucks, the OEM Digital Transformation Accelerates

It was a busy week for connected vehicles and devices among the OEMs, with automakers announcing new plans and capabilities for vehicles large and small, private and commercial.

During the week, Ford, General Motors and PACCAR provided updates on the digital transformations of their entire business models. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Volkswagen are providing their customers with connected solutions to common problems.

Related news: Ford Expects to Have 33M Vehicles Receiving Over-the-Air Software Updates by 2028

Ford’s mission is to run the internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle business for cash to fund the company’s continuing development of electric vehicles, commercial vehicles and services, and connected services and autonomy/mobility, company representatives said on Wednesday (Oct. 27).

“We need to get an 8% margin like we did this quarter as a company regularly, because we have to fund a high-growth BEV [battery electric vehicle] and digital business,” Ford President and CEO Jim Farley said during a call with investors and analysts. “It’s not to make money. Yes, it is that, but it’s motivated in the mission of transforming Ford through these digital products.”

Also see: General Motors Says Over 25% of 2030 Revenue Will Come From Software and New Business

Software and new business are expected to drive revenue growth and margin expansion at General Motors through the next decade, accounting for more than a quarter of the company’s revenue by 2030 and transforming it into a “platform innovator.”

In a presentation released on Wednesday (Oct. 27), GM said revenue from software and new business is expected to have a compound annual growth rate of 50%, reaching $15 billion by 2025 and $80 billion by 2030. It also said the new business portfolio is expected to generate margins in excess of 20%, boosting the company’s overall margins to between 12% and 14% by 2030.

Read more: PACCAR Says New Connected Truck Platform Is Part of Its Digital Transformation

As it turns out, the connected car of the future may also be a truck. Big rig manufacturer PACCAR has taken another step in its digital transformation by launching a global connected truck platform that will be fitted into the Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF brands.

The PACCAR Connect system consists of proprietary hardware and software that will simplify customers’ fleet management operations, the company reported on Tuesday (Oct. 26) during an earnings call. PACCAR began installing PACCAR Connect on DAF XF, XG and XG+ trucks in October.

Also see: New App for Electric Vehicles Finds, Controls and Pays for Charging

One of the great stresses of taking an electric vehicle on a road trip is figuring out where and when to charge your car. It’s a problem and a concern that Volkswagen drivers can now scratch off their list, thanks to the German auto giant’s new app that helps monitor the vehicle’s current charge level, find a charging station, control and manage the charger, and then pay for the charging plan.

The We Connect ID app also enables owners of the Volkswagen ID.4 EV to use a smartphone as a remote control to manage vehicle functions like climate control adjustments and remote route planning.

Related news: Fleet Operators Tap Connected Solutions to Speak Efficiency, Safety to Drivers

Efficiency and safety are always important to commercial fleet operators, but increasingly busy schedules triggered by supply chain challenges and a shortage of drivers have raised the stakes — and investments — in technology to help keep things moving smoothly. It’s a trend that was reflected in a trio of product announcements this week aimed at helping fleets meet today’s big-picture challenges.

Also see: More Automakers Join Trend of Factory-Installed Toll Payment System

A growing list of new cars will no longer have to stop at toll booths or carry state-linked transponders that pay their way, as a factory-installed variety that is part of a suite of connectivity features is seeing additional uptake from the industry.

During its recent third-quarter earnings call, Gentex told analysts and investors that Mercedes-Benz had become the second OEM customer to offer its Integrated Toll Module (ITM) in the wake of a similar announcement from Audi.

Read next: Toyota, Lexus App Walks Drivers Through Post-Collision Process

Toyota and Lexus drivers now have access to an app that will walk them through what to do if they get in a collision. After the driver has confirmed they are safe, the feature prompts them through the entire process. If they choose, it also streamlines the submission of information to insurance companies and repair shops.

“The primary benefit of Collision Assistance is to put the vehicle owner at ease during a time of uncertainty and confusion via a convenient Safety Connect mobile app feature,” Tyler Brown, senior manager of connected strategy at Toyota Motor North America, told PYMNTS in an email interview.

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