Delphi's Going High Tech

Delphi is trying to get ahead of the competition.

Timothy Healey
    Jul 11, 2017 12:20 PM  PT
Delphi's Going High Tech
author: Timothy Healey    

Auto parts manufacturer Delphi is going high tech.

The company, which started life as the auto-parts wing of General Motors, is now focusing on becoming a supplier of the high-tech components the automotive industry needs and will continue to need as current cars become more and more computerized and as self-driving cars inch closer to reality.

Delphi Looks to Autonomy, Safety

That's because today's modern cars are filled with computer chips, cameras, radar, software, and links for wireless communication.

Delphi's CEO says that future cars will have even more of those components, and he'd like the company to be a key supplier for the components – such as wiring, software, and connectors.

"It's the intelligent architecture that allows all the advanced safety systems, all the autonomous driving software, all the infotainment software to operate effectively," Kevin P. Clark, Delphi's CEO, told the New York Times.

Clark says Delphi would like to be the automotive version of Cisco, especially when it comes to self-driving cars. Cisco, of course, builds many of the routers and switches that make up Internet networks. Clark told the Times that the Cisco comparison was apt.

Analysts told the paper that Delphi is attempting the biggest change from a traditional automotive supplier to one that's focused on future tech.

That doesn't mean Delphi is assured success – its investments in startups could turn out bad, and the constant shifts in technology may be difficult for a company used to a slower pace of change to navigate.

Eye on Data

One thing Delphi has its eye on is data. It's looking to create a business that will gather data about where vehicles go, how they're driven, and how they're running. The idea is to sell the insights it gathers to automakers, insurance companies, and possibly advertisers.

That means a driver who isn't too aggressive could get discounts or advertisers could target drivers who pass by their businesses often. If that sounds a little bit like the targeted ads people see when browsing the Internet, well, that's the intent.

Delphi acquired startup Control-Tec in a bid to bring this business to fruition.

Clark told the Times that he believes that such data tracking could become a multibillion-dollar business.

The pecking order of automotive suppliers may change as the industry deals with a level of transformation not seen in quite some time. Delphi hopes to be at the head of the pack after any and all reshuffling of the decks is done.

Its moves like the acquisition of Control-Tec and its partnership with Mobileye and Intel that could help Delphi do just that.

New York Times