STLA Brain: Stellantis’ new electronics, Foxconn partnership

Mopar people have been through many electronics systems over the years. The original computer controls were replaced by a new bus system in the 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee; that bus was ejected in favor of CANBUS when Daimler took over (the Jeep was put into production during the takeover). Then Fiat replaced the Daimler interpretation of CANBUS with their own systems, though most American-made models kept Chrysler’s BSD UNIX-based UConnect systems instead of moving to Fiat’s troublesome Microsoft-based stereos. Finally, FCA imposed a new Android-based telematics system.

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Now, partly to help support the needs of hybrid and battery-electric vehicles, Stellantis is creating a new STLA Brain software/hardware platform.

Foxconn, which assembles Apple hardware (among many other things), has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding to design custom semiconductors for Stellantis and other customers. The goal, according to Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares, is to have four new families of chips to handle 80% of their semiconductor needs. This should modernize their systems and reduce complexity, both of the electronics and of the supply chain.

STLA Brain will launch in 2024, and be used across all four BEV-centric platforms (Small, Medium, Large, and Frame). It can handle over-the-air upgrades so customers don’t need to return to dealerships or go through lengthy “keep the engine on while this USB drive is in your port” processes for software updates.

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Foxconn (Hon Hai Technology Group) is the world’s largest electronic manufacturer; it was founded in Taiwan in 1974, but has plants in many other places. Foxconn makes Mac Pro computers in the United States and iPhones in China and  India, and is finding new sites for semiconductor production.

In other news today, Stellantis announced that it expected around €20 billion more revenue per year from software-enabled vehicles, by 2030. This would come from subscriptions and software-enabled products. The company expected to make €30 billion in investments through 2025 to get there, including having 4,500 software engineers by 2024, not including partnerships; a dedicated software academy; and the new electronics infrastructure.

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