Previously, BMW noted that it would be sharing a few updates as to where it currently is on the autonomous technology front. In an interview with Reuters in Geneva, Klaus Frohlich, BMW development chief, has just revealed a few areas where the brand aims to put its efforts into in regards to this.

“For me it is a core competence to have the most intelligent car,” Frohlich said, adding “we have some catching up to do in the area of machine learning and artificial intelligence.” The company is currently seeking for partners to work on areas including cloud computing, technology to store data and software remotely and accessing it over the internet – for a purpose.

The idea here, is so that data which has been obtained and gathered from the car’s onboard sensors, will then be combined with remote information such as weather and traffic, using 5G connections. Frohlich then explained a few challenges it is currently facing – including outsourcing of expertise to develop the “brains” which Frohlich isn’t very keen on doing.

He revealed that the carmaker currently sees Uber and sales website, Truecar as competitors, competitors that he describes as “new intermediaries.” “Our task is to preserve our business model without surrendering it to an internet player. Otherwise we will end up as the Foxconn for a company like Apple, delivering only the metal bodies for them,” he said.


To solve this, Frohlic noted that the ultimate goal is to build as much expertise within BMW. Currently, software engineers make up only 20 percent out of 30,000 employees, contractors and supplier staff working on R&D at BMW. The goal, it seems, is to up that number. It’s a similar move that Apple, Tesla, Google and Silicon Valley have made.

“If I need to get to a ratio of 50:50 within five years, I need to get manpower equivalent to another 15,000 to 20,000 people from partnerships with suppliers and elsewhere,” Frohlich disclosed.

Meanwhile, Frohlich also disclosed that BMW will be licensing out tech produced by its own engineers, including drivetrains for electric and hybrid vehicles. ”Going forward we will sell electric drivetrains. We see many smaller manufacturers who cannot afford to develop a plug-in hybrid,” he explained.