In September 2016, Renault-Nissan announced it planned to use a number of Microsoft cloud services in its next-gen vehicles. This week, the auto maker is ready to deploy services built on Microsoft's Connect Vehicle Platform at scale, becoming the first Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform partner to do so.
Microsoft's Connected Vehicle Platform -- formerly known as its Connected Car Platform -- is all about getting vehicles to connect to Microsoft cloud services like Azure, Office 365 and more on the back-end. Microsoft's Connect Vehicle strategy replaced its old "Windows Automotive" plan, via which Microsoft attempted to convince car makers to embed Windows inside their vehicles.
On March 20, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi unveiled the production release of what the group calls its "Alliance Intelligent Cloud." The goal is for Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors to be able to deliver cloud-connected services in cars sold in nearly all 200 markets served by those companies. These cars will be "the first vehicles powered by the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform available to consumers at scale," according to Microsoft.
The Alliance Intelligent Cloud, in addition to using Azure, will "consolidate multiple legacy connected vehicle solutions with current and future connected car features and business operations that will support mobility services," Microsoft's press release says. The Alliance Intelligent Cloud will deliver remote services, proactive monitoring, connected navigation, connected assistance, over-the-ai software updates and other services. It also will be able to connected Alliance vehicles with future smart cities infrastructure, Microsoft officials said.
The first cars that will feature Alliance Intelligent Cloud technology will be the new Renault Clio in Europe and selected Nissan Leaf models sold in Japan and Europe, according to Microsoft. According to Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, cars using the Alliance Intelligent Cloud should be available "later this year."
Microsoft isn't the only tech vendor with connected-vehicle ties to Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi. Last year, the Alliance signed a multi-year deal with Google to produce vehicles with Android-powered infotainment systems as part of a wider strategy to equip new vehicles with a wider array of connected systems.
The rollout of vehicles running Android infotainment systems is expected to begin in 2021 and will enable drivers and passengers to directly use Google Maps from the vehicle, run automotive apps from the Google Play store and use the voice-controlled audio assistant to answer texts and calls, find information and manage different functions within the vehicle. These services will be integrated with the Alliance Intelligent Cloud.