Ulrika Pettersson has been a chief programme engineer at Volvo Car Corporation for over a decade

Ulrika Pettersson has been a chief programme engineer at Volvo Car Corporation for over a decade

As head of software development for VCC's V526 project, Ulrika Pettersson manages the input of suppliers to the new XC90's advanced infotainment system. With more variants of this big SUV still to come, her role is evolving.

Could you set out what your official job title means?

I am technical product leader for software and software integration.

And is it solely the XC90 project that you’ve been working on?

Yes, for the last four and a half years.

Now that the car is on sale, how does your role evolve?

We have other products coming during this year. We have CarPlay (Apple's IoS for automotive applications) from Week 46, we have new engines. And we have also the plug-in hybrid which is coming later this year so I am still heavily involved.

Is the far smaller size of VCC compared to the German Big Three premium brands a disadvantage?

This sort of technology is consumption driven, and it’s very fast moving. When you have something like an iPhone, the software changes often. We have to keep up with the technology and ahead of the technology. We are of course not just looking at what’s coming for automotive applications; we have to look at other industries and this never stops.

How late in the XC90 project were you allowed to put new features in?

It’s a balance between having the latest technology and for it to be quality assured. If you ask about the cut off dates, it depends on how integrated, how deep a function is in the system. Some things are easier to change than others.

All XC90s have this tablet-like touch screen. Will VCC send infotainment system updates to the car in a similar way to how Tesla does with its cars?

No, we will always tell our customers what we are doing. We wouldn’t change the software in their cars without telling them. For new functions, when the car goes to the dealer for a service the car should tell the customer that there is something which could be updated.

Which suppliers have you worked the most closely with on this project?

Regarding the infotainment system, this is delivered to VCC by Mitsubishi Electronics. And for the ACC (Active Cruise Control), it is Delphi. This is part of the RACam driver assistance systems, so it’s radar sensing, vision sensing and data fusion in one module for active safety functionalities.

Are these systems new for the XC90?

We had some of them in our other cars but there are new functions for the XC90.  The radar is now in the windscreen, not on the front of the car. So, some of the functionality is carried over but the software side of things has changed.

Is it a problem for Volvo dealers that the other cars will seem dated by not having the XC90's infotainment system?

I don't think that will be a problem since the technology in the other cars is not that old. We have made a lot of facelifts and changes during the last two years and we will also change all our cars within four years.

If the S90, V90 and V90 Cross Country are the next models from Volvo, will we see an even newer suite of safety and infotainment features, building on what's in the XC90?

We will always have new features in new models. Sometimes they will be adapted from what we have already, and sometimes they will be all-new. What I can say is that we will have CarPlay and we will have Android Auto (Google). Soon.

Do you only work on SPA vehicles or also on the future CMA cars?

Yes, SPA, but we still have the old architecture [EUCD] on the other cars.

How closely do you work with your counterparts at Geely?

We are two companies, but we treat each other as customers. The companies are run separately. Because I have been working on the XC90 for such a long time, my involvement with Geely systems engineers in China has been limited.

And that is because SPA is a VCC project, not a Geely-VCC one?

Yes.