Report: Over-the-Air Software Updates to Save Auto Industry Billions


While the automotive industry is slow to embrace remote, over-the-air software updates for its vehicles, a new report by Southfield-based research firm IHS Automotive says the updates will eventually help to reduce OEM costs, improve customer satisfaction, and save the industry billions of dollars.

“It’s clear that OEM cost savings from (over-the-air) software updates will be the most valuable part of this technology — by far,” says Egil Juliussen, director and principal analyst of automotive technology at IHS Automotive, and one of the report’s co-authors.

Juliussen says OEM cost savings from over-the-air updates, which are standard for smartphones and tablets, will grow from $2.7 billion in 2015 to more than $35 billion in 2022, with telematics and the infotainment system updates comprising most of the savings. 

Over-the-air software updates will be available for maps, apps, infotainment, telematics control, and electronic control. Juliussen says BMW, VW, and Tesla have all announced over-the-air software updates for navigation maps, and Hyundai and Ford plan on deploying similar systems in the future. 

He says the over-the-air software updates will help to reduce warranty costs, potentially increase overall completion rates for software-related recalls, and offer the ability to upgrade functionality and add features to automotive infotainment systems over a vehicle’s lifetime.

Juliussen says total vehicles in operation that are enabled with map over-the-air updates are projected to grow from 1.2 million units in 2015 to nearly 32 million units by 2022.

He says IHS Automotive believes Mercedes-Benz has started using over-the-air updates in its latest telematics systems, with other OEMs likely to use the technology in the near future. ​