This May 25, Palantir announces that it will deploy on all sites operated by Stellantis, its software suite Foundry designed to ingest huge amounts of heterogeneous data and make sense of it. Stellantis, it should be remembered, encompasses 14 global automotive brands in a vast consortium created in 2021 between the Italian-American Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and the French PSA (Peugeot-Citroën). Palantir is an American company specializing in the analysis of large volumes of data – the big data – and its use for optimization and decision-making purposes. Simply put, the Denver, Colorado-based company builds giant visualization tools to observe all operational components of a business in real time.
Example given by Grégoire Omont, responsible for the Stellantis file in Paris, from where the contract will be managed: “A modern car includes 200 to 500 sensors which spit out information continuously. These elements, transmitted to the manufacturer by the mobile network, are essential to understand how a fleet of cars evolves”. We are talking about billions of data points that must be analyzed and transformed into a decision-making tool. The idea is to anticipate breakdowns before they occur, to detect abnormal behavior and to correct it before it becomes widespread.
The car returns nightmare
This correction can be carried out in the best case remotely by updating the on-board software (this is called OTA for Over-The-Air), or at a dealership. In the latter case, it is the famous “returns” which are the manufacturers’ nightmare because they can ruin commercial margins if there are too many of them. In other words, a few percentage points gained here and there can drastically change the economy of a model. It is on this concept that Palantir sells its know-how. For Stellantis, he will extend it to all sectors of the company: vehicle manufacturing, marketing, management of subcontracting chains, dealerships… Everything is good to optimize. These deployments are accompanied by specific measures of success: the customer will be able to see in detail the points of improvement in all the critical phases of its operations, with the key to gains that are measured in tens or even hundreds of millions of euros or dollars.
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As usual, Palantir entered through the small door. At Stellantis, he started at the end of 2019 with analyzes on quality improvement issues at Fiat Chrysler and then at PSA, which had an urgent need in this area. In three months, Palantir demonstrated what it could bring to the builder.
Two years earlier, Palantir had similarly set foot at Airbus, helping to solve a problem on the A350 assembly line. The contract was then extended to the entire range of the European aircraft manufacturer – and above all to the hundred or so airline customers – and it took on such a dimension that Airbus obtained exclusivity from Palantir in the commercial aviation sector. . A year later, the CEO of Airbus, Fabrice Brégier, who had set up the entire contract (and at the same time saved the delivery schedule for the A350) was poached by Palantir, of which he became president for France.
Today, Palantir works with 237 companies or government entities. This last segment represents a little more than half of the company’s income, which obviously seeks to diversify its portfolio. Collaboration with the public sector is dominated by the security sector: in the United States, Palantir first started working with the CIA – whose venture capital fund In-Q-tel was one of its first investors – and placed its software at the FBI, the NSA (the federal cybersecurity agency), the immigration control service or even the Pentagon, which gave it an assumed “patriotic” connotation.
In France, this expertise allowed him to land a contract with the General Directorate of Internal Security (DGSI), which sparked a great controversy. The DGSI has pretended to distance itself from Palantir, but continues to use its Gotham software, which was tailor-made for intelligence agencies. As with that of Airbus, Palantir is silent on the amount of the Stellantis contract. At the firm’s Paris headquarters, we simply admit that it has a “strategic” stake. At present, the Airbus contract is undoubtedly much more important since it is extended to all its customers. However, a few indicators can give an idea of the importance of the agreement with Stellantis.
First, the turnover of the automobile consortium (150 billion euros in 2021) is three times higher than that of Airbus; Palantir’s financial filings show that in fiscal 2021, its three biggest customers (including Airbus and British Petroleum) accounted for 18% of revenue, or $270 million of a total of $1.5 billion; finally, the firm’s top 20 clients generate an average of $43 million a year. Signing with the world’s sixth-largest automaker, which produces in 30 countries, with no trade covenant, opens the door to the $2,700 million auto market. So there is much to do, in the long term, to change the size of the company.
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Automotive: Stellantis signs a major agreement with the data specialist Palantir
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