Historically, the most sought after features of a car were horsepower, torque and other performance related metrics. However, the importance of the car’s power and towing capacity is increasingly taking a back seat to the technology integrated into the car. As new vehicles become more technologically savvy and automated cars become a more realistic possibility, more computer and technology companies are becoming important suppliers to the automotive industry.

Intel recently released new hardware and software called Intel In-Vehicle Solutions specifically for the automotive industry and the next generation of cars. As reported here, Intel Internet of Things Group corporate vice president Doug Davis said, “Our goal is to fuel the evolution from convenience features available in the car today to enhanced safety features of tomorrow and eventually self-driving capabilities.” Intel’s focus on an automotive specific hardware and software line is consistent with the shift toward more “techy” cars. Interestingly, Intel’s In-Vehicle Solutions is not merely an Intel computer chip repurposed for a vehicle, it was developed based on Intel’s automotive specific research and development. Thus, Intel, and perhaps others, see automobile technology as a new and independent business line with its own unique opportunities and challenges.

With automated cars on the horizon and ever increasing convenience and safety technology being integrated into new vehicles, it is likely that an increasing number of computer and tech companies – like Intel and Google – will venture into the automotive industry. The real question is whether drivers will soon “boot up” to show off the car’s computer rather than “pop the hood” to show off the engine.