07 Nov 2017

Connecting cars for over 12 years

Connecting cars for over 12 years

A woman driving a car

The automotive industry found u-blox sometime around 2005. It was neither anticipated nor planned, but looking back, it’s been a fantastic adventure. Since, we’ve sold dozens of millions of positioning and communication devices to automotive Tier Ones and OEMs. The automotive industry has become one of our most important verticals, generating over a quarter of our revenue. Today, we work with most major OEMs and have gained extensive know-how on working successfully with the industry and an in-depth understanding of its requirements and constraints. Now, twelve years in, it’s safe to say that we truly speak automotive.

If we’ve learned anything, it’s that the automotive value chain is long and complex. If smart watches and Bluetooth trackers are agile speedboats, automotive OEMs are freightliners: high stakes operations where mistakes are consequential. This understanding permeates how we work with the automotive market. While in consumer markets, product lifecycles are short, those in automotive stretch over years. Of the three years it might take to bring a new device to market, well over half goes into certification and qualification. Understandably, changes in chip and module specifications or stock-outs are not appreciated.

Customer focus, we’ve learned, is key to success. For us, this translates to offering products tailored to a variety of use-cases, from classic chips to integrated, tested, and certified modules that combine multiple components, thereby shortening the value chain. It also means that we go the extra mile to deliver superior performance. Augmented with dead reckoning technology, our NEO-M8L module, for example, accurately detects its position even in tunnels or dense cities where standard GNSS receivers fail to deliver.

To meet the industry’s stringent demands, we provide our complete automotive portfolio in automotive grade. As such, our modules meet industry standard automotive specifications and are qualified strictly according to ISO 16949 and AEC‑Q100 and are delivered with the PPAP (Production Part Approval Process) documentation to ensure compliance with customer requirements. Because automotive applications are often mission critical, we test them to ensure that they withstand high levels of electromagnetic interference, bumps, shocks and vibrations, and temperature extremes. Complete qualification and failure analysis in-house means that we can quickly and competently diagnose and address the root cause of failures. And we are committed to bring down failure rates through the u-blox zero ppm program.

We believe that our close customer engagement, our attention to quality, and our continuous efforts to innovate have all played their part in making u blox the market leader for automotive GNSS and a strong provider of wireless communication technology for automotive applications. Roughly 19% of our sales are invested in R&D, keeping us ahead of the game. And by offering nested designs and sticking to the same pin-outs for successive module generations, we try to make it as easy as possible for our customers to follow, helping them save time and money in the design process. Our new automotive grade MAX-M8Q GNSS module with an extended temperature range is a case in point.

Looking forward, we are determined to stay at the forefront of automotive technologies, as augmented reality, advanced navigation systems, and second generation V2X products take the driving experience to the next level. In particular, we will deliver reliable and safe GNSS technology to enable highly automated or autonomous driving.

The automotive market has been good to us for over the past 12 years, and we are committed to returning the favor. With now over twelve years of experience working with the automotive industry, we are excited about the disruptions, challenges, and opportunities that lie just around the corner.


Thomas Nigg

Senior Director Product Strategy, Product Center Positioning

You might also be interested in