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VW, Microsoft partner up to power VW's connected-car future

Volkswagen will use Microsoft's Azure platform to power its forthcoming connected services.

Volkswagen I.D. Buzz concept

Volkswagen has some very big ideas for the future of its connected cars. But in order to get there, it needs the kind of infrastructure that can handle all that data moving back and forth. Since that's not exactly VW's wheelhouse, it's turned to one of the biggest names in the game.

Volkswagen announced today that it has entered into a strategic partnership with Microsoft in regard to VW's connected-car future. The two will put their heads together to create an entire digital ecosystem that seeks to turn VW's future cars into members of the internet of things (IoT), using Microsoft's Azure cloud platform as the foundation.

This early stage of the partnership means that there aren't a whole lot of specifics available yet, but Volkswagen offered up a few. To start, VW will establish a cloud development office in the US, close to Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Washington, with the goal of employing about 300 engineers there. Microsoft will provide hiring and consulting resources to help speed this process along.

Good luck trying to fit all that -- and more -- on your current mobile data plan.


That's the start, but what about the finish? Volkswagen's end goal here is to create a massive automotive cloud that can cater to millions of connected cars simultaneously. VW says that, from 2020 onward, "more than 5 million" new VW Group vehicles will be fully connected. An image from VW mentions media streaming, smart-home connections, personal assistants, personalization and in-car office work. And that doesn't even touch the car itself, which will offer up predictive maintenance suggestions and rely on over-the-air updates. That's going to require one heck of a lot of data, which is why VW went to Microsoft.

Volkswagen is working with other partners in this space, too. Earlier this year, VW announced a partnership with IBM, wherein the automaker will use IBM's cloud services as the backbone for personalized experiences behind the wheel, whether it's recommendations for local restaurants or offering up coupons as you approach a gas station.

It'll be a few years before we see the true fruits of this partnership, but it seems pretty promising. Whether you're looking forward to having more spare time for work or play in the car, or having more personalized recommendations beamed to your vehicle as you drive, Volkswagen's partnership will comprise the skeleton that makes it all possible.

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