The automotive industry's disruptive transition to a greater reliance on software has attracted a multitude of startups which want in on the action. Most startups operate for years while relying almost entirely on multiple rounds of funding as they slowly develop and prove their products, win some customer orders, and eventually start shipping and billing in volume.
Sonatus, an end-to-end provider of in-vehicle and cloud software based in Silicon Valley, has taken a more direct path. Sonatus was founded in 2018 and by 2020 was already in production shipping cloud connectivity and networking software into more than a half-dozen Hyundai Motor Group car models. Today, Sonatus is in production on more than 10 Hyundai Group models with its first- and second-generation products that now also include data collection and management software. More vehicle models are being added this year. Eventually, Sonatus's software will be deployed in the vast majority of the OEM's cars. "There are two pieces of software, one in the vehicle and the other in the cloud. Our customers pick the cloud. For Hyundai we are deployed on their private cloud and on AWS and Azure," noted Sonatus CEO Jeffrey Chou.
Sonatus's primary competition is coming from some of the carmakers who want to develop end-to-end software infrastructure in house. "They're learning that it's pretty hard to do, and some of them are stumbling. You need a balance of insourcing and outsourcing," Chou told me, "This technology that we are bringing is not trivial. It took us decades to learn how to do it at companies like Cisco, VMware, Cloudera and AWS."
With 150 employees and offices in Detroit (USA), France, Germany, Poland, China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, Sonatus has thus far raised 110 million US dollars, over two rounds, from an impressive array of investors including Hyundai Motor Group's Kia Corporation, Foxconn, SAIC, LG Electronics, Marvell, Wanxiang Group and UMC Capital. The industry has taken notice.
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Hansen, P. The Hansen Report. ATZ Elektron 18, 37 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s35658-023-1507-z