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The Future of the Connected Vehicle

Many remember a time when the concept of a “Connected Vehicle” was out of reach. In the midst of the space race, the 1950’s and 1960’s vision of a connected vehicle seemed like something out of an episode of Flash Gordon or the Jetsons more than a viable reality.

Fast-forward to 2015, where vehicle features once considered the science fiction of tomorrow are here today.  Over the past five years, the connected vehicle market has grown at a pace 10 times as fast as the overall automobile market. It is projected that by 2020, the worldwide connected vehicle market will exceed $193 billion and 75% of all cars shipped worldwide will have the ability to connect. Clearly, the future of the connected vehicle is now.

Better Technology = Connected Car

Factors such as the rapid advances in computing power have given rise to connected vehicle innovation. A recent McKinsey & Company report states that today’s cars contain the power of 20 personal computers, have approximately 100 million embedded lines of code, and can process data loads up to 25 gigabytes per hour.  When compared to the Space Shuttle’s “measly” 400,000 lines of code used in it’s primary flight software, one can see the accelerated pace of technology (and why the Space Race is Over). Further, connectivity infrastructure and hardware have vastly improved in recent years. Telecommunication providers are working to expand the coverage of 4G LTE, public “hotspots” are popping up everywhere, and OEMs are designing automotive grade WIFI, enhanced Bluetooth technology and embedded cellular/GPS connectivity.

Beyond the technology advances, there is still one factor that has moved the needle most: the consumer and their response to the “Internet of Things” (IoT).

Iot and the Consumer (and Auto Industry)

The IoT has changed the world as we know it. As consumers, we expect to be connected to our “things” whenever, wherever, and however we see fit. The smartphone is an appendage that connects us to things around the globe.  Like Steve Austin, we feel we’re “better, stronger, faster” with our smartphones. We now use wearables to monitor our bodies to ensure that we are healthy. Our home thermostats and lights are controlled remotely to ensure our comfort and to optimize efficiency. The ways we shop, pay bills, go to school and work have become connected – suffice to say, connected is the new normal. We expect our cars to be connected things, too.

Auto manufacturers embrace the opportunities IoT provides to meet the connected customer’s unmet needs. Beyond the current in-vehicle infotainment features (such as streaming a Spotify playlist to your car), and convenience options (like navigation systems), auto manufacturers also see potential to make the roads a safer place. They are releasing vehicle safety systems that allow vehicle to vehicle (V2V) and vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) connections to avoid crashes and reduce severity. According to the Department of Transportation, V2V and V2I applications notify drivers of “roadway hazards and dangerous situations that they can’t see through driver advisories, driver warnings, and vehicle and/or infrastructure controls.

To the manufacturer, a connected vehicle and IoT is not only a means of creating a safer vehicle or a response to consumer need; connectivity also gives them the ability to manage the customer relationship and create additional revenue streams. Ultimately, these two work in harmony to create a more loyal service customer and increase brand consideration when it comes time to purchase a new vehicle.

The aftermarket solution

The trend seems to be connecting NEW vehicles, but what about the 233 million vehicles on the road that lack embedded connectivity? Although most people are driving cars that are nearly 12 years old, aftermarket solutions exist that can connect our older cars today. OBDII dongle devices used in usage-based insurance programs can provide countless safety and security service applications that can connect the car, improve a consumer’s quality of life, and fill unmet needs. For example, in the event of an accident, these devices are capable of notifying an insurance provider so that they can dispatch a tow truck, or arrange for a rental car.  This technology can also alert first responders if an accident may result in bodily injury. Just take a look at e-call in Europe; this service reduces accident response time by 50 percent, saves hundreds of lives and reduces the severity of tens-of-thousands of injuries annually. Further, dongles can provide vehicle location, giving parents peace of mind to locate their teen driver, or assisting in stolen vehicle recovery. These devices can even diagnosis DTC codes to save customers money and prevent inconveniences related to battery drain, coolant problems, and other service issues.

Clearly, the future of the connected car is now and consumers and manufacturers are harnessing this power today.  Are you currently connected?  Please let us know and share your experiences!

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