Internal strategies come to the rescue

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posted on EVANNEX on January 29, 2022, through Charles Morris

The automotive industry has been in panic mode for months – a shortage of computer chips forced some automakers to suspend production for long periods, leading to empty lots at dealerships and soaring prices. But one company seemed to avoid the whole crisis – Tesla broke records quarter after quarter and sold almost twice as many vehicles in 2021 as in 2020.

Above: A glimpse of Tesla’s internal team working on a Model X (Source: You’re here)

What’s the secret ? Tesla and its usually talkative CEO have said little about “how the automaker has come around to the rest of the auto industry”, while the New York Times Put the. However, it becomes clear that Tesla’s unified computing architecture and control over its software was, at the very least, a major factor.

Like all other automakers, Tesla was unable to obtain the chips it had ordered in sufficient quantities. Unlike them, however, he was able rewrite your software in order to take advantage of the chips that were available. “We used alternative parts and programmed software to mitigate the challenges caused by these shortages,” the company said in its earnings report.

Traditional car manufacturers did not have this option, because their software and hardware are under the control of suppliers. The Times reports that, in many cases, automakers also relied on these suppliers to deal with chipmakers, so they lacked the clout to negotiate with chipsets.

Above: A preview of Tesla’s FSD computer (Source: You’re here)

“Tesla, born in Silicon Valley, has never outsourced its software, it writes its own code,” Morris Cohen, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, told The Times. “They rewrote the software so they could replace shortage chips with chips that aren’t missing. Other automakers were unable to do so. Tesla controlled his destiny.

Tesla’s Unified Computing Architecture didn’t make as many headlines as its 0-60 times and convenience features like dog mode and fart mode, but it’s been a huge competitive advantage since the company’s early days. , as co-founder Ian Wright explained to me in a 2014 interview (see chapter 9 of my book, Tesla: How Elon Musk and his company made electric cars cooler and remade the auto and energy industries).

Now, seven years later, traditional automakers realize they need to take yet another page from Tesla’s book, and take control of the computer systems of their vehicles. The Times reports that Mercedes plans to use fewer specialized chips and more standardized semiconductors in its next models, and to write its own software. Going forward, Mercedes will “make sure we have personalized and standardized chips in the car,” board member Markus Schäfer told The Times. “Not a thousand different tokens.”

“Probably others were going this route before,” Schäfer added.

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This article originally appeared in Accused. Author: Charles Morris. Source: New York Times

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