By Hilmar Dunker

The core competence of carmakers used to lie in the field of powertrain and chassis.

Car companies took pride in building their own engines. BMW wouldn’t dream of putting an engine built by another brand into its 3, 5 or 7 Series models.

Volkswagen develops its own TDI engines. And Audi builds and owns its Quattro all-wheel drive technology.

The building of engines, the fine-tuning of vehicle drivetrains and chassis are among the core competences that traditionally define a car brand.

These carefully honed engineering skills provide the key to the image of a car company. In the case of BMW, they even give the company its name, as the M stands for “Motoren.”

Today’s car company is getting ready to add another core area of expertise: IT. The definition of what is a car is changing as the vehicle is ever more connected.

Attention is shifting away from mechanics in the direction of software. And software doesn’t mean systems such as electronic stability control. Software means telematics, infotainment and the new LTE fast mobile communications mode.

As Audi r&d Chief Michael Dick tells automotiveIT in its latest German-language carIT publication: “In the next 10 years, vehicle architectures and interior design will change strongly as IT pervades the car.”

As that process runs its course, the brand image of carmakers will increasingly be shaped by new technologies that might well be decisive in the purchasing decisions of Generation Facebook.

The message to automakers: Miss out on this development at your peril!

-Hilmar Dunker is editor-in-chief of automotiveIT