Qualcomm, Ford go big with plans to deploy C-V2X in Ford vehicles starting in 2018

LAS VEGAS—Qualcomm Technologies is extending its long-standing relationship with Ford Motor Company, now with added emphasis on Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) and field trials planned for the first half of 2018.

The companies said the C-V2X technology is expected to be deployed in Ford vehicles pending field trials beginning in the first half of 2018 and “a conducive regulatory environment.” Efforts have been underway to mandate a competing technology, Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC), in the U.S., but Qualcomm and Ford are trying to get momentum behind C-V2X.

Qualcomm’s first C-V2X commercial solution, the Qualcomm 9150-C-V2X chipset, is due to be commercially available in the second half of 2018, with plans for it to be featured in production vehicles by 2019. The 9150 C-V2X solution is being used in C-V2X trials underway in San Diego, as well as additional trials in Detroit.

Qualcomm has been a supplier to Ford for years, but it’s not moving from a supplier relationship to one where there’s more of a deep, long-term strategic relationship, according to Patrick Little, senior vice president and general manager, Automotive, at Qualcomm.

“We share with Ford many things, but I think one thing that we’re announcing here is our common passion for the C-V2X standard,” with both companies believing it will save a tremendous number of lives, he said. “We’re moving very quickly together.”

DSRC has been floating out there for more than a decade with no firm mandate in the U.S., and Strategy Analytics recently published a report noting that DSRC has an uncertain future under the Trump administration.

Little said that based on his travels and meetings with people, China looks to be the closest to mandating C-V2X. In China, it’s all about C-V2X and it's been very aggressive with vehicular mandates, so it’s likely it will move to a mandate it very quickly. In Europe, “you mostly hear support for Cellular V2X,” he said, with some car makers who were committed to a DSCR path reconsidering that.

Asked if a mandate is necessary for C-V2X to take off in a big way, Little said he thinks some automakers might wait for a mandate, but that companies like Ford are likely going to serve as accelerants and help to quicken the wider move to C-V2X.   

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Historically in the U.S., GM and Ford both started down the DSRC path—when there was no other option—but in the past year or so Ford has gotten on the C-V2X bandwagon. GM announced last year that all of its new 2017 Cadillac CTS sedans would come equipped with DSCR, so it’s apparently holding onto that.

Late last year, CNBC reported that Qualcomm had obtained a permit to test autonomous vehicles on public roads in San Diego. The company hasn’t talked a lot about its work on the roads with autonomous vehicles, but it’s clearly on its radar.

Qualcomm this week also announced that it’s supplying Jaguar Land Rover with its Snapdragon 820Am Automotive platform to provide customers with ultra-fast and efficient connectivity throughout the vehicle by integrating 4G LTE Advanced, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies. It also announced that the 2018 Honda Accord features a highly advanced Snapdragon Automotive Platform to power cutting-edge applications for Honda’s in-vehicle infotainment and navigation system.