Mercedes-Benz will give outside developers a software development kit (SDK) to make it easier for them to program new apps for the Mercedes me platform.
The move by the German premium car brand shows the growing need for automakers to be part of a digital ecosystem where external partners play a big a role in catering to consumer demands.
Mercedes me offers a wide range of digital services such as the abiliy to send a destination to the vehicle via Amazon Alexa or Google Home, using a smartphone to open, close or start a car and turning on auxiliary heating from anywhere.
But the brand, the core marque in the Daimler Group, feels that outside software developers can enrich the offering, thereby boosting its appeal to potential Mercedes owners.
“We feel sure that the large global developer community has the potential to come up with a host of creative and innovative ideas for new Mercedes me offers that will delight our customers in future,” Daimler sales and marketing chief Britta Seeger said in a press release. “We aim to meet the individual needs of Mercedes-Benz customers in the digital age at the high level to which they are accustomed.”
The Mercedes-Benz Mobile SDK gives developers direct access to various programming interfaces to the car. The company said it is one of the first automakers to offer such access to global developers.
The auto industry, citing potential security risks, has long resisted opening car systems to outside partners, but as automotive architectures evolve and safety-critical functions are increasingly kept separate from other areas, automakers are now beginning to welcome outside developers for their connected-services offerings.
Nevertheless, Mercedes said it is not providing open access to the car to anyone interested in developing new apps for it.
“Talking about the Mercedes-Benz Mobile SDK and the chance to provide access between the vehicle itself and the outside world all will be assessed and proceeded through the Daimler Vehicle Backend,” said Sajjad Khan, the Mercedes-Benz board member in charge of implementing the Mercedes-Benz strategy for connected, autonomous, shared and electric vehicles.
The Daimler vehicle backend has various security mechanisms in place and data is stored on secure servers. “Secure access to systems, data security, data privacy and anti-theft protection are key elements of our research and development activities,” Khan said. “The same is true especially when it comes to the development of the Mercedes-Benz Mobile SDK.”
Mercedes staged a 24-hour hackathon during the press days of the Frankfurt auto show September 10 and 11. The event featured more than 60 young software experts developing new Mercedes me services using the SDK.