Silicon Valley Startup Sonatus to Partner with Hyundai on the Development of Software Defined Vehicles –

Author: Eric Walz   

In the future, connected and electric vehicles will essentially be an extension of our digital lives. These vehicles will be software-based and support over-the-air updates just like a smartphone. With this cutting edge automotive technology on the horizon, the world’s automakers are forming strategic partnerships with tech companies to develop new vehicle architectures.

Hyundai Motor Group on Wednesday announced a new partnership with Silicon Valley-based software developer Sonatus. The two companies will work to develop software defined vehicles for Hyundai and its brands Kia and Genesis.

Sonatus collaborates with OEMs and their Tier 1 suppliers to integrate its ready-built software-defined solutions into existing electronic control unit (ECU) hardware, as well develops next-generation vehicle architectures. 

With this new partnership, Sonatus is bringing its expertise to Hyundai to transition away from legacy vehicle architectures and transform its vehicle development with electrical/electronic (E/E) architecture capabilities.

Sonatus will essentially help Hyundai transform its vehicles into “data centers on wheels” using next-generation vehicle software architectures. The partnership with Sonatus will help Hyundai to innovate faster, reduce complexity and costs, and become more agile in developing connected technologies.

“Automakers that strategically align with partners that can help them accelerate the shift toward service delivery architectures will likely be the leaders in the digital era,” said Roger Lanctot, director of the global automotive practice at Strategy Analytics. “It’s encouraging to see Hyundai Motor Group partnering with an innovative new industry player like Sonatus as it seeks to gain an early-mover advantage with software-defined vehicles.”

The first of these new software-defined vehicles is the new Genesis GV70 SUV from Hyundai’s luxury division, which comes equipped with Sonatus software to support the next-generation digital technologies in the vehicle.

The G70 is using the vehicle and cloud software developed by Sonatus, enabling Hyundai to harness vehicle data, add new features, fix problems, and more, without requiring software updates. 

“Bringing the Genesis GV70 to market is just the first step,” said Jeffrey Chou, CEO and co-founder of Sonatus. “As we embrace the future of mobility, our next-generation solutions will evolve even further, enabling game-changing vehicle automation capabilities such as the ability to create new vehicle features and functionality without writing a single line of code or replacing hardware.” 


The Genesis GV70 is equipped with Sonatus software to support the next-generation digital technologies in the vehicle.

In the future, Sonatus’ Digital Dynamics software solutions will be used by Hyundai to improve vehicle data collection and monitoring, including cloud-managed in-vehicle network management and optimization in next-generation Genesis, Hyundai, and Kia vehicles. 

To support a future with millions of connected vehicles on the road, automakers will have to upgrade their current vehicle infrastructures with more advanced technologies such as Ethernet, IP and universal cloud connectivity. However, the management of these technologies introduces significant new challenges for car companies.

In-vehicle networks and cloud connectivity need to be actively managed to ensure optimal performance. For example, software updates need to be orchestrated to install easily, quickly, and reliably, without impacting user experience or vehicle safety. 

Future vehicles from Hyundai will be equipped with software that’s capable of receiving over-the-air updates to enable new features for the life of the vehicle. Sonatus believes that these technologies will lead to a surge of innovation in the auto industry over the next decade and beyond.

“Partnering with Sonatus is an important part of our strategy to be on the leading edge of software-enabled innovation,” said Hyung Ki Ahn, vice president of the Electronics Development Group for Hyundai Motor Company (HMC). “Delivering rewarding digital technology experiences is a pillar of Genesis’ redefined luxury experience. With software solutions from Sonatus, we will have new capabilities to bring innovative new technologies to market faster.” 

The rollout of 5G technology is poised to accelerate vehicle connectivity and spur rapid growth in real-time hybrid vehicle-cloud applications even more, according to Sonatus.

Sonatus was founded In 2018 by Chou and Yu Fang with the vision to simplify and accelerate the digital transformation of the automobile. The company is headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA. 

Before co-founding Sonatus, Mr Chou was the CEO of software company Diamanti, a developer of an enterprise software platform for managing Kubernetes.

Mr Fang, who serves as CTO of Sonatus, was the former Head of Mobile Engineering at Nauto, where he led a team that built AI-based software to monitor driver behavior and improve the safety of commercial fleets.

Other automakers are also working on software-based vehicle architectures. Mercedes Benz announced last year that it’s working with NVIDIA to develop an entirely new vehicle architecture for its future models that supports OTA updates for the life of the vehicle. 

The advanced software-based vehicle architecture will be introduced beginning with 2024 model year vehicles, eventually rolling out to the entire Mercedes Benz fleet globally. Drivers of these future Mercedes Benz software defined cars will be able to add apps to their vehicles the same way Apple iPhone and Android device owners add new apps to their devices. 

Mercedes Benz plans to offer some of these vehicle software updates as a subscription service, including some specialized automated driving features that drivers can add to their vehicles, such as self-parking capability.

Sonatus recently raised $35 million for its core technology. Participating in the funding were  world-class automotive and technology investors, including Hyundai Motor Group’s Kia Corporation, Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm Translink Capital, SAIC Capital and LG Electronics. 

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