Software and cloud providers such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon are quickly becoming an integral part of the automotive supply chain and redefining the word "supplier."
Auto companies are relying on cloud providers to help them manage the massive amounts of data being generated by the vehicles and parts they build, as well as from the factories where they're made. As more data is collected and more software is embedded into vehicles, the role of those tech companies and others is likely to grow, said Arun Kumar, a managing partner at AlixPartners.
"If you look back at the 1950s, the ability to produce the car was where the profit was. Fast-forward to today, most of the value in the next 10 to 15 years is going to be in the data that the car generates," he said.
"Rather than trying to build it all themselves, automakers say, 'I have digital technology being provided by these cloud players, and rather than trying to put all this investment into developing it myself, I'll just partner with them because the technology is more mature,' " Kumar said.