VW strengthens Microsoft links as automakers turn tech companies

Europe's automakers' focus on 'connected' vehicles is bringing them ever closer to the tech industry.

The news that VW and Microsoft are set to expand their strategic partnership - both geographically and technologically - is just one of the indicators that there is an increasingly blurred line between car maker and tech company amongst Europes biggest auto brands.

The expansion of VW's Auto Cloud to include Europe, China and the USA - VW's largest potential markets for it's all-electric, fully-connected vehicles - was revealed during a visit by Microsoft to VW's digital lab in Berlin.

The software giant is providing VW with access to its Azure platform, which includes cloud, edge, Artificial Intelligence and Internet-of-Things technologies.  These new tech combinations are being described by the car manufacturers as 'ecosystems'.

The outcome, according to VW's Digital boss Christian Senger, is that "Volkswagen Automotive Cloud will be the global technological backbone of our digital ecosystem. At the same time, we will be launching a new, high-performance software architecture in our vehicles. This will lay all the foundations required for the full networking of our vehicle fleet and for the development of digital added-value services for our customers.”

But VW is not alone.  According to Automotive News Europe, Daimler Benz (Mercedes) and BMW are setting their sights on tech development as the future of vehicle manufacture. In fact, Daimler has gone as far a stating that it is becoming:“a software company [that] builds trailblazing mobile devices,” while BMW sees itself as: "a tech company for premium mobility.”