With the EV age upon us, the importance of software and connected vehicles is now more relevant than ever. The Hyundai Motor Group recently held an online event showcasing the future of the brand's strategy for its vehicles with software-defined vehicles.

While Tesla, which is essentially a tech-company first more than anything else, was early to join this trend, the rest of the industry which includes both legacy auto and new-age EV startups are both starting to close the gap with their own versions of software-defined vehicles. Here's what Hyundai Motor Group has in store for us.

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Software Defined Vehicle

A software-defined vehicle is as the name suggests, a vehicle that puts a car's software front and center. Now, this is something that we have already seen with the likes of Tesla over a decade when it introduced the first Model S. Basically a software-definedThin vehicle is a connected vehicle where the car itself is both a collector and receiver of data. Your cars and cars that pack the latest hardware for the connected vehicle eco-system continuously collect data in real-time and relay that information to the automaker.

This data is then processed and pain points are identified and updates are sent over the air to further refine and improve the overall ownership experience. Based on the data collected, this could be anything from something as simple as updating the car's infotainment system to adding more power to the drive train components or improving the driving range on an EV with better optimization of the battery pack. This is exactly similar to your smartphone, where you get new and improved features over time with every new update.

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Hyundai's Take on Software-Defined Vehicles (SDV)

​​​​​​Hyundai will transform its entire lineup of gas-powered, hybrid, and electric vehicles into software-defined vehicles by 2025. At their Unlock the Software Age online event, the Korean automaker said that it plans to completely transform the end customer experience with the ability to receive not just performance upgrades but also functional upgrades over the lifetime of ownership of a vehicle via its future over-the-air OTA updates.

By transforming all vehicles to software defined vehicles by 2025, Hyundai Motor Group will completely redifine the concept of the automobile and take the lead in ushering in a never-before-experienced era of mobility - Chung Kook Park, President and Head of R&D Division, Hyundai Motor Group

The conglomerate is investing heavily in software, that ties in both hardware and software. A new Global Software Center is also being developed at the cost of 18 Trillion won. But the data collection won't be limited to cars, and it will in fact be harvested from the likes of traffic signals, road infrastructure and even cars with built navigation systems. At the heart of this future lies the brand's internally devolved Connected Car Operating System (ccOS) being developed with NVIDIA. The software giant is a market leader in AI technologies, machine learning, and graphics.

Hyundai Software Defined Vehicle Stages
Hyundai Motor Group
A digital render showing the five stages of Hyundai Motor Groups future SDV strategy

The tech required to collect the data from stuff like the various cameras, sensors, and LiDAR will be supported by ccOS. As part of an advanced Highway Driving Pilot, Level 3 autonomous driving tech will soon be released on the Genesis G90. This will become the basis of the group's widespread rollout of future advanced driving tech. Hyundai estimates that up to 20 million vehicles will be running the ccOS by 2025.

Having a unified hardware and software system has its benefits and drawbacks. To draw a tech analogy, you can think of Apple or even Tesla, where the company has more control over the ecosystem. But having said that, you can be rest assured to have a more seamless and congruent experience with a rich feature set of applications and services. Hyundai too aims to build innovative services and new mobility experiences with ccOS.

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To Summarize

So what does this mean for the future of the auto industry? Well, it means that you will over time have a far more evolved feature set in your vehicle compared to when you first drove your vehicle off the dealer lot. One of the benefits of course with an evolving feature set is that it enhances the longevity and product life-cycle, which is always a good thing.

So like the cars of today, where you have to head to the dealer to get the latest version of the software, cars of the future will be able to accomplish this and a lot more via over-the-air updates. As for the Hyundai Motor Group, with its future Ioniq models and several new all-electric products within the product portfolio, the Korean automaker sees a promising future for connected vehicles by embracing software.