Qualcomm held a first-of-its-kind ‘Automotive Investor Day’ in New York recently. The event was organized to highlight the new ventures that Qualcomm is embarking upon in the automotive technology space. The company is building on its presence in 250 million vehicles using its connectivity and telematics technologies. Its automotive revenues traced to telematics and connectivity are projected to total $1.3 billion in 2022, up from $975 million in 2021. With this exclusive road map, the revenues are forecasted to reach $9 billion in 2031, which, based on the total addressable market (TAM) size, are conservative in our opinion. Licensing business is also part of the automotive push with the QTL (Qualcomm Technology Licensing) program to collect $5 per connected vehicle with 5G adoption expected to scale in 2024.
Qualcomm’s automotive efforts begin with its expertise in telematics and connectivity, the first branch of its Digital Chassis suite. Telematics and connectivity here include modems, GPS, Car2Cloud and more. The second biggest unit in terms of projected revenue generation is the digital cockpit, which has infotainment systems and where interaction with the driver/passenger takes place. This section comprises GPUs, CPUs, OS support and the like. Lastly, we have the top revenue generating unit, ADAS/AD systems, dubbed the Snapdragon Ride platform which is related to autonomous driving components, computer vision, ML and efficient computing processors.
Cars Already on the Road
Qualcomm’s automotive presence precedes the revamped approach underlying the Automotive Investor Day. At the first event of the sort, Qualcomm highlighted its dominance in wireless technology in hardware and software and how such a reputation brings value in terms of applications in the automotive industry. Under its tie-ups with OEMs such as Stellantis and General Motors, Qualcomm is providing solutions pertaining to connectivity/car-to-cloud, digital cockpit and ADAS/AD systems. Some of these technologies are already on the road with Cadillac’s Lyriq EV and Opel’s Mokka-E. A new Mercedes-Benz model, reportedly the EQE SUV, is expected to be launched next The vehicle is set to be unveiled mid-October.
One Technology Platform
Qualcomm seeks to drive the automotive industry transformation by using at-the-edge technology and unlocking the potential for passengers and OEMs. The automotive pivot to EVs is key to redefining the automotive language of design and in-car experiences. One feature that proves valuable is linking the vehicle owner directly with the OEM. The vehicle itself will perform other duties such as data collection and analysis of driving modes, and AI refinement in terms of safety, map guidance and software errors. Having the vehicle connected to a centralized system adds value to both ends of the car. The “One Technology Platform” eases the scalability while maintaining uniformity given Qualcomm’s lead in wireless connectivity and established car technology suite.
The Digital Chassis suite offers a combined platform within the vehicle, from connectivity to ADAS. The enablement of at-the-edge applications for vehicles expands the potential of automotive designs and advancements. Qualcomm has opted to design and produce systems-on-chips (SoCs) that can be for OEMs and their intended passenger vehicle concepts. A key notion is to reduce costs and increase uses of the SoCs which can be used in any type of vehicle and at any price point.
Qualcomm will offer flexibility and customization based on the OEM’s needs and work alongside the Tier 1 suppliers. The company noted that OEMs aim for region-specific features and options, which affect pricing and useability. Hence, the One Technology concept is still applied but with interchangeable features catering to the intended market such as traffic patterns, surrounding environment, and regulatory obligations.
Vehicle Lifecycle and Software as Differentiator
In contrast to the smartphone industry, cars have a longer life cycle which changes the perspective of technology implementation. To ensure vehicle longevity on the road, Qualcomm’s designs have future-oriented applications embedded, such as L3 and L4 AD systems. With its recent acquisition Arriver, Qualcomm aims to invest further into the technology for faster implementation and safer driving. Longevity also requires software updates and upkeep which Qualcomm does address by highlighting the importance of the One Technology concept and OEMs’ role in the cycle.
OTA updates of firmware and enabling new features can play a crucial role in keeping the car relevant to the latest technology. With such an approach, the passengers can perhaps experience a customized ride using OEM-specific applications or software add-ons. In addition, sensor algorithms and mapping of vehicle performance will always be refined. Thus, vehicle connectivity is becoming crucial as in-car experiences demand being almost constantly online.
Snapdragon Ride, ADAS/AD in Scope
Given the importance of ADAS/AD development in Qualcomm’s automotive strategy, Snapdragon Ride was showcased in detail. The road map showed SoC designs, vision system development through Arriver and the automated riding stack in collaboration with BMW.
The Snapdragon Ride Flex SoC is to be the first automotive super-compute SoC to integrate various operations including vision, ADAS/AD, and networking. The SoC will continue to be developed to reach Level 4 and even Level 5 autonomy while housing other applications for the passenger in terms of infotainment and the digital cockpit. AI accelerators would be in addition to the SoC to ensure fast computing and allow for data collection to scale solutions adequately while using a centralized cloud system. The Snapdragon Ride platform is the Digital Chassis branch pertaining to the ride experience and its refinement through interconnected functions.
C-V2X is another application Qualcomm is setting its sights on. With the enablement of such technology, the cars would be much safer and constantly connected with their surroundings, from pedestrian detection to parking spaces available in the vicinity. Having the vision SoC, C-V2X and sensors/LiDAR working together under one ecosystem is what Qualcomm offers for OEMs in addition to the other SoC applications and wireless technologies.
Snapdragon Ride SoC requires a vast compilation of compute power and precision for it to run smoothly. With that in mind, Qualcomm showcased the prowess needed to enable the technology. From multi-SoCs to computer vision, utilizing AI and ML algorithms for system enhancements and constant improvements, all allow OEMs to immediately tether the update through to all other vehicles.
Design-win Pipeline: From $19 bn to $30 bn in Two Months
Qualcomm’s automotive push shows strong performance with an increase of $11 billion in two months towards its portfolio of vehicular technologies. The tech firm utilized its Digital Chassis to increase OEM partnerships and engage in automotive innovations with an estimated TAM of $100 billion by 2030. The pipeline additions include both software and hardware with the TAM addressing vehicle connectivity, cockpit digitization and driver assistance systems.
The estimated revenue for 2031 was increased from the November 2021 forecast of $8 billion to more than $9 billion with a CAGR of 18%. The CAGR from 2022 to 2026 is estimated to be 32% with possible revenues of more than $4 billion, up from $3.5 billion from a previous estimate. The revisions indicate the operating scale of expanding OEM partnerships adopting Digital Chassis technologies, adding to the design-win pipeline and revenues associated with scaling and licensing. The content per vehicle is in the $200-$3,000 range depending on the desired features to be embedded.
The forecasted revenues do not include other opportunities cited at the event, which included two-wheelers and e-bikes, domain controllers and last-mile autonomy. However, these applications are to be explored by Qualcomm in the long term. Such opportunities can catapult the use of C-V2X technology and further expand Qualcomm’s TAM and technology adoptions through the various offerings, be it automotive or wireless oriented. The One Technology concept also adds value to OEMs’ efforts to expand their direct customer reach through other technologies and offerings, providing truly personalized yet uniform use cases for customers.