The need for talent to master this transformation is immense, said Ricky Hudi, chairman of The Autonomous, an organization that seeks to bring together the world's major mobility stakeholders to shape the future of AV design. He added that to lure top talent, a company needs to show that it wants to make a meaningful impact on the future of mobility.
"These companies need to create an innovation culture and spirit that you can feel every day," he said. "The executive boards should consist of at least 50 percent of people who combine a deep understanding of software technologies as well as traditional car development skills. This, backed up by a proven track record, is very hard to find."
Such new talent can be attracted only if you offer the right projects, added BMW's Martin.
"Software engineers, for example, may not be car enthusiasts — they are mostly looking for bespoke and exciting tasks or new challenges," he said. "In this case, the car industry doesn't play an important role — more the R&D environment."
He pointed out the need for such people is growing, with BMW currently employing about 7,400 software engineers, and that number is expected to rise.
Lyft's Kelman noted the tech talent crunch is "a critical piece" of an industry rationalization the company has seen in the last year and a half.
"There is only so much technical talent available in the market today, and even fewer leaders who are able to combine an understanding of the AV technology with consumer preferences," she explained. "That's why we are seeing everyone move to focus on what they do best."
Krause noted that Cariad is in competition with companies such as Google and Amazon to attract the top tech talent but feels VW's size and history are key advantages, along with the promise of developing technologies that will find their way into millions of vehicles globally.
"The size of the problem is so big, and you need so many people with different backgrounds and knowledge about so many different parts of the system, it's really easy to get overwhelmed," he said. "Being there and looking at all those people working together and the complexity that is part of being a huge group, you become aware of the size of the challenge."
Lyft, Kelman said, is focused on building the marketplace engine to power AV deployments at scale, and the consumer technology that will help riders adopt and adapt to this shift.
"We partner with the best AV technology companies in the market, which allows each of us to focus on our strengths as a company," she said.
Hudi said development hubs in the best locations around the globe could also help to attract the required talent.
"To concentrate all talent in one venue is difficult," he said.
But he noted that the automotive industry is by no means made up of vehicle manufacturers and suppliers alone.
"Chip manufacturers, software developers, disrupters, cloud providers and many more play a vital role in developing autonomous driving," he said. "The major imperative is to develop vehicles that are as safe and secure as possible. Overcoming the safety challenges for truly automated driving cannot be mastered by a single automaker, Tier 1 supplier or tech company alone."
As the transformation takes place, the entire industry must focus on faster turnaround times and faster software development cycles, said Cariad's Krause.
"In the past, when you developed the car software it was fixed, and now we need much shorter update cycles and the ability to update cars already in the field," he said. "We all agree that the car will change in the future, and everyone is talking about software first — it will be key and the center of the future car."