Volvo seeks new subscription revenues with Qualcomm-powered tech

LAS VEGAS — Computing power delivered by chip supplier Qualcomm will help Volvo to create new revenue streams in an era when cars last longer, the automaker said at the CES technology show here.

Volvo will use Qualcomm’s Digital Cockpit backed by a high-power chip to offer subscription features in its new EX90 full-electric crossover.

“We will see cars that need to last longer and more of the value is driven by software, so we will need to find new business,” Martin Kristensson, Volvo’s head of product definition and partner management, said at a media event held with Qualcomm on the sidelines of CES last week.

“Certainly, there is an opportunity for subscriptions for some of features in the vehicle,” he said.

Kristensson described the EX90 as the company’s first “software-defined” vehicle into which new features can be added over time, as well as upgrading software and hardware.

Features that Volvo could monetized over time include audio content, navigation content and digital services, Kristensson said.

Volvo uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon SA8155 chip to help power the car’s Android operating system from Google, leveraging Qualcomm’s experience in supplying chips to power Android smartphones.

The automotive industry is reaching the same tipping point as smartphones did when they became updateable with new apps and features, Mark Granger, head of Qualcomm’s Digital Cockpit automotive product, said.

“We can do so much more in the cockpit. We can innovate and bring new features over the lifetime of the vehicle,” he added.

Volvo would always ensure upgrades to safety features are free, Kristensson said.

“What we can monetize are things that go above and beyond — both car-centric functions like automatic parking and also digital services,” he added.

However, he hinted that increasing autonomy to Level 3 hands-free might not be classed as a safety function, and therefore could be chargeable.

“Autonomy is time saving, and time is the most precious resource. If I can save half a day more, that is probably very valuable for you,” he said.

Volvo has said that the EX90 could be upgraded to Level 3 autonomy, without giving a timeframe.

Qualcomm announced its partnership with Volvo and subsidiary brand Polestar at CES 2022.

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