There were bound to be lots of numbers, a few big announcements, and a series of headlining virtual appearances – Mary Barra of GM, Carlos Tavares of Stellantis, James Yang of Great Wall Motors, Ola Kallenius of Mercedes-Benz, and Toshihiro Mibe of Honda Motor, among others – at Qualcomm’s Automotive Investor Day 2022 held on September 22nd in New York. The event helmed by Qualcomm’s Cristiano Amon, President and CEO; Akash Palkhiwala, Chief Financial Officer; Mauricio Lopez-Hodoyan, Vice President of Investor Relations; and, Nakul Duggal, Senior Vice President & General Manager of Automotive served to reiterate that connectivity, autonomous, shared/services, and electrification (C.A.S.E.) trends are accelerating the automotive industry into the digital age. The future will be one of software defined vehicles (SDVs) and OEMs will need to transform into technology companies if they are to remain relevant. Needless to say, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Digital Chassis which unifies edge intelligence and connectivity technologies with high performance and low power compute, was front and center.

The Numbers

Let’s start with a few numbers that were shared at the event. The standout figures included a $30 billion automotive design win pipeline, up from $19 billion two months back, an estimated total addressable market (TAM) opportunity of $100 billion by 2030, and content revenues ranging from $200 on the lower end of the scale to $3,000 at the premium end from a single vehicle. In addition, the spotlight was on Qualcomm Technology Licensing (QTL) which has been unlocking value from long-time services. The QTL business clocked up some big figures: of over 50, 5G connected vehicle license agreements, licensing of more than 250 million vehicle connectivity units, and licensing fees of $5 per vehicle unit.

CEO Cristiano Amon spoke about the three pillars of Qualcomm’s One Technology Roadmap: connected, intelligent and edge. He emphasized Qualcomm’s vision of developing architecture that would bring data processing, computing, and intelligence to the edge, and enable cloud-edge convergence. He also highlighted a $700 billion TAM for connected intelligent edge spanning mobile, automotive, and IoT applications.

Rapid revenue growth and diversification have been central narratives in Qualcomm’s success story. CFO Akash Palkhiwala was understandably buoyant on the back of some strong revenue forecasts. He underscored the anticipated increase in revenues from $975 million in FY21 to $1.3 billion in FY 22, driven initially by the stepped-up pace on digital cockpits, coupled with the expected launch of 20 new vehicle models. Qualcomm also stressed on the gains made since Investor Day in November 2021, including the development of a blueprint for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving (AD) chipsets for Level 1 to Level 5; the conclusion of the Arriver transaction in October 2021 and the related acquisition of ADAS/AD software stack; and the doubling of its design-win pipeline across Snapdragon Digital Chassis domains.

The Technology

C.A.S.E trends are pushing the automotive industry’s transition to a new electrical/electronic (E/E) chassis architecture. The emergence of simple, integrated vehicle chassis architecture that support zonal controllers and centralized domain controllers marks a break from the past where platforms have been designed around distributed microcontrollers. Future SDVs will demand high performance, low power architecture with centralized compute.

Snapdragon Digital Chassis seamlessly integrates the concepts of everything connected, high performance and low power, and edge intelligence. The cockpit platform supports personalized in-car experiences, navigation, audio and multimedia; the car-to-cloud platform enables a range of services; the ride platform facilitates L1 to L4 AD system on chip (SoC) with Ride Automated Driving stack, while the auto connectivity platform enables 4G/5G cellular connectivity, in-car connectivity, and electric charging connectivity, among other features. The Ride Platform is already commercially available in the Cadillac LYRIQ and Great Wall’s Mocca.

Our Perspective

The ability to be at the forefront of the digital revolution in the automotive industry will require competencies in designing SDV-ready platforms that enable customizable and immersive in-vehicle experiences. SDVs will create opportunities for both consumers and OEMs, many of which haven’t even been conceived yet. The goal would be to promote enhanced safety through AD/ADAS, support a cloud-connected, service-focused architecture, and seamlessly link the vehicle to both the internal and external environment. Here, Qualcomm has distinguished itself with its expertise in semiconductor and software development and IP.

Though a big challenge, they have partnered with automakers to create a foundation for greater competitive differentiation, build next-generation vehicles and experiences, and realize stronger brand recognition. At the same time, its collaborative approach aligns with its thinking that the building of a cohesive ecosystem is a pre-requisite to successfully realize transformational shifts towards a digitally led future. The rollout of the Snapdragon Digital Chassis which includes the Snapdragon Ride, Auto Connectivity, Cockpit, Car-to-Cloud, C-V2X and Positioning Solutions has provided Qualcomm with the ability to expand further into various mobility applications. The opportunities that Qualcomm is targeting represent diversified, sustainable and long-term revenue streams that have the capability to multiply as new applications such as two-wheeler and commercial vehicles are added.

Krishna Achuthan

Krishna Achuthan is a Commercial Mobility Consultant in the MOADs team at Frost & Sullivan. Bringing his experience from the off-highway and rail sector, such as OEMs, rail operators and component suppliers. He provides valuable perspectives on key technology trends, competitive intelligence and market analysis in the rail sector and its influence on the industry.

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