Over-the-air (OTA) software updates for vehicles refer to the wireless transfer of new software, configuration settings, firmware, and software patches to electric vehicles. Since its inception, OTA use has become increasingly common and relevant in the automotive industry. The findings below indicate that many electric vehicle manufacturers are adopting OTA use in some models or in all their vehicles.
- Tesla is the pioneer of OTA software updates in the industry, launching its use in 2012 While the company continues to provide such updates to its vehicles, other manufacturers are still lagging behind but are expected to adopt this technology soon.
- The company initially offered OTA for its Model S cars, which calibrated the range calculator and thus improved drivers’ ability to estimate a range.
- Tesla aims to provide OTA software capabilities for all its models to ensure that they have new features and to correct faults.
- Reports indicate that by 2023, most vehicles manufactured by the company will have digital systems that can handle at least 4.5 terabytes of data per hour.
- The new system is designed to ensure that GM is able to offer electric vehicles with capabilities that are similar to those offered by Tesla and to ensure that the vehicles have the necessary computing power to become fully autonomous.
- The company plans to spend $27billion by 2025 to release 30 electric vehicles globally, with more than 75% of these available in North America.
- One example of GM’s electric vehicles that will be equipped with OTA software capabilities is the Cadillac Lyriq SUV that is slated for production in 2022. The model will initially go into production in China before starting regular production in the US in late 2022.
- Although the company does not specifically state that the model will have OTA software updates, Mark Reuss, president of GM, noted that it will be “personalized to the individual driver’s needs and also that the vehicle would get better over the ownership period.”
- Volkswagen was one of the first major vehicle manufacturers to state that it would adopt OTA updates after Tesla had started using them. However, the company will not have OTA-enabled vehicles until it releases its new I.D. electric vehicle fleet in 2022.
- The company admits that the first EVs might not initially have the self-drive or OTA capabilities, but they will be built with these features in mind and can be potentially upgraded. OTA updates will thereafter enable users to keep their technology updated over time.
- Volkswagen is currently running a real-world test of their I.D. vehicles, with employees using 150 models of the vehicles to gauge their functionality.
Ford Motor Company
- In 2019, Ford announced that all its new vehicles launched in 2020 would be OTA-enabled.
- However, its first electric vehicles will be introduced to the market starting in 2021 with the Mustang Mach E and 2022 with the Electric Ford F-150.
- The company’s Mach-E will have OTA capabilities that support core vehicle functions and driver-assistance features.
- The introduction of electric vehicles with OTA capabilities creates the possibility that all or more subsequent models will have the same features.
- Mercedes recently announced its partnership with NVIDIA to develop a software-based system that would allow the former to manufacture vehicles with OTA updates. This software will be introduced in vehicle models for 2024 and gradually rolled out to the entire company fleet across the globe.
- While this indicates that the roll-out is designed for all vehicles whether non-electric or electric, the company plans to launch the 2022 Mercedes EQS electric luxury sedan in the American market by mid-2021.
- This Mercedes model replaces the EQC SUV that was supposed to be sold in the US. While the EQS does not have the potential for OTA software upgrades, it appears that the EQS will have OTA capabilities.
- NIssan offers OTA updates for some of its electric and non-electric vehicle models.
- For instance, the Nissan LEAF Plus contains an OTA system. It is the first model from the company to have vehicle software updates, so it is presumed that Nissan will continue building on this technology in the future.
- Porsche is offering OTA software updates mainly for its Taycan model.
- The Porsche Taycan is an electric vehicle currently available in the US that has OTA and hardware updates that make it easy for users to navigate ad drive seamlessly. Some of its OTA capabilities include the InnoDrive system and the Porsche Intelligent Range Manager.
- It is however important to note that while Porsche announced that the model has the OTA functionality, users are still forced to visit the workshop if they want a major update. OTA capability is nevertheless effective for smaller updates.
- Reports indicate that Porsche’s use of the term “OTA” is hasty and bold because the company’s manufacturing and supply chain system denies it the ability to deliver OTA capabilities such as those offered by Tesla vehicles.
- In general, this implies that although Porsche might be interested in establishing OTA-enabled electric vehicles in the future, it must first adjust its supply chain system to effectively adopts OTA software for its products.
- In 2019, the company introduced OTA software updates for some of its vehicle models. Recently, it announced that it would offer free OTA updates to approximately 75,000 cars in its global markets. This will allow BMW to update the features of its current fleet and also offer users new features as well.
- The company’s electric vehicles with such capabilities include the BMW 5 Series, 8 Series, and 3 Series.
- BMW plans to constantly improve these updates for free for all its future customers and their products.
- The company adopted OTA capabilities in 2017 for its powertrain components and vehicle parameters, allowing users to complete their updates anywhere in the US or Canada as long as they had a cellular connection.
- For instance, the Mack LR BEV is an electric powertrain that utilizes OTA functions for user convenience.