The platform is a critical part of GM's plan to develop a wider profit net through technology and software and subscription-based services that extend beyond the vehicle purchase. GM and other traditional automakers could boost their revenue as much as 30 to 40 percent with service businesses in the next five to 10 years, analysts told Automotive News in March.
"Today, cars are enabled by software. With Ultifi, they are going to be defined by it," Scott Miller, GM vice president, software-defined vehicle, told reporters Wednesday.
Ultifi will deliver features, apps and services to customers via over-the-air updates. The system builds on GM's electric vehicle architecture, called the Vehicle Intelligence Platform. It will be available on new electric and gasoline-powered vehicles.
Customers will receive regular enhancements to their vehicles, similar to smartphone updates, and will be able to choose specific upgrades, personalization options and new apps.
"GM has decades of experience writing vehicle software, creating a solid foundation to build on," Mark Reuss, GM president, said in a statement. "Now with Ultifi, we will be able to improve our software continuously, and deliver new features and apps to customers in a fraction of the time."
GM announced the software platform last year, saying it would combine the purchase, onboarding and ownership experience. The platform has evolved since then with a stronger focus on technology, connectivity and personalization, a spokesman told Automotive News.
The automaker will continue to improve the Ultifi technology for new use cases. For example, in the future, internal cameras could be used for facial recognition to start the vehicle. The vehicle could also close the sunroof in a parked car if rain is in the forecast or automatically turn on child locks when children are sensed in the back seats.
The connectivity could also improve vehicle communication with other connected devices and infrastructure, alerting drivers to hazards or changing road conditions, such as ice, GM said.
"The safety parts of this are profound," Miller said.