In what could prove to be a big push for the country’s automotive sector, particularly electric two-wheelers, the venture capital arm of global chipmaker Qualcomm is looking for domestic startups in the advanced automotive tech space. to buy stakes or opt for a merger and acquisition. The company is also willing to take minority stakes in electric vehicle (EV) companies if it fits into their overall strategy to expand their use of the technology.
“Our Ventures arm invests in key areas including 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), automotive and Internet of Things (IoT) to help grow Qualcomm’s ecosystem of customers and partners. We want to acquire knowledge and invest in companies that advance our technologies. When we invest in startups, we help them with products or go to market,” says a Qualcomm India spokesperson.
Explaining the strategic direction of the Indian automotive space, Qualcomm executives say the country is the world’s fourth largest automotive market and largest for two-wheelers. Currently, the company is observing and activating a trend of cellular connectivity in automobiles as part of a basic offering for telematics, infotainment and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).
The spokesperson adds: “With the transition to electric vehicles, this trend is accelerating. And Qualcomm, with its cutting-edge technology, is well positioned to deliver advanced solutions that support the ongoing transformation of the automotive industry.
Sources within the company point out that the country also has a large, but still untapped, market for “subscription services”, which can supplement automakers’ revenues.
Such a subscription service could be to offer advance warning on whether there are potholes in the road or something ahead of us which will interfere with driving. This could provide a safety net for drivers. Work is also underway to create “assisted driving apps” that would help commuters.
“These packages can be purchased with annual, monthly or even daily subscription models, depending on the needs of the commuter. For example, he might want to subscribe to a service that notifies you of potholes only during the monsoon and maybe not in the winter. So, we have flexibility, ”explains the source.
Executives also point out that as technology evolves, electric cars will have processors with more computing power so they can respond instantly to crisis situations. This rapid response might not be possible by storing and processing information in the cloud, even with 5G’s low latency.
Qualcomm has been at the forefront to take advantage of the huge increase in demand for chips resulting from the growing shift from internal combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles. The company is also working to introduce use cases in electric two-wheelers of the technology already available in passenger cars.
The American chip design company has already supplied its processors to Ola Electric and is now in advanced talks to offer them to Hero Electric. Hero Electric chief executive Naveen Munjal has confirmed that they are in talks with Qualcomm and Texas Instruments to diversify their chip supply base. (Previously they bought their chips from Toshiba which had to cut production during the semiconductor crisis).