Tata Motors is collaborating with Microsoft Corp for connected cars with advanced navigation systems that will also allow drivers to check on their vehicles remotely.
The Indian automaker will use Microsoft’s connected vehicle technologies including artificial intelligence and Internet of Things capabilities on the software company’s Azure cloud, the two said in a joint statement on Thursday. The first vehicle showcasing some of these features will be unveiled at the Geneva auto show in March, they said.
The Indian automaker joins Toyota Motor Corp, Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co to partner with Microsoft to use its software in their models. Tata Motors is looking to offer advanced features in its vehicles in a country with one of the world’s deadliest roads and where drivers often fight for road space with pedestrians, two-wheelers, auto rickshaws, pushcarts, buses and trucks.
“Driving in India is very different from the rest of the world,” Anant Maheshwari, president of Microsoft India, said at a joint press conference in Mumbai. “The focus for Tata Motors is more customers at the centre than technology at the centre.”
Automakers across the world are partnering with technology companies as they shift their focus to self-driving technologies and developing connected vehicles. They are preparing for a future in which computers do the driving rather than humans. Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, is trying to revamp its auto offerings around its Azure cloud service, Office productivity suite and Cortana. That’s a change from its previous strategy, which had auto manufacturers installing a version of the Windows operating system to run in-car entertainment and information systems.
While the Renault-Nissan alliance is the first customer for a new Connected Vehicle Platform, the software company has other carmakers trying or signed up to use its software. BMW plans to put Cortana in some cars, Toyota is using Azure cloud services in a venture and Volvo has said it will put Skype conferencing into some models.
Tata Motors’ collaboration will offer the automaker new revenue streams as car buyers move from “hardware to services,” chief executive officer Guenter Butschek said at the press conference.
The Indian company this month unveiled an upscale brand as it looks to shed its budget image and has said it seeks to become the country’s third-biggest automaker by 2019.
Tata Motors, which posted a 97% drop in third-quarter profit, has said it will cut the number of passenger vehicle platforms in India to two by 2018 from six, a move it expects will lower capital expenditure. The parent of luxury brands Jaguar and Land Rover has struggled to make money at its operations in India, posting two consecutive quarters of losses, and relies on the British unit to provide about 81% of its revenue.
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