Uptake of internet connected cars has been stimulated by regulations, such as eCall in the EU, requiring that cars are able to call the emergency services in the event of an accident.
At the same time, car manufacturers recognized that the connectivity is essential to enable over-the-air software upgrades that will be required with increasing regularity, predictive maintenance and data to be collected to inform and enhance their R&D efforts for the next generation of vehicles.
These core use cases have been added to over the last decade as connected cars technology has improved and developed. The passive collection of user habits or the upgrade of software when parked have only scratched the surface of what is possible in the connected cars market. Obvious applications include navigation services and, more recently, connectivity to enable applications that enable electric cars to locate and use charging points but there are further applications emerging that make use of the in-car connectivity infrastructure, such as usage-based insurance (UBI) which relies on connectivity to track vehicles so pricing can be charged according to how, when and where cars are driven.
Connectivity will not be optional for some services. Cars will have more and more software as part of their own systems that needs to be updated with new services and software fixes. The software-defined car will be totally reliant on OTA updates to avoid garage visits every time an upgrade is needed and to enable patches and fixes to be performed remotely and in an automated way.
Automated driving, although a popular vision of the future, remains many years away with the technology immature and regulators unlikely to approve full automation for a decade or more. In the interim, connectivity improvements are making new use cases possible as higher speed, secure connections become near-ubiquitously available. 4G connectivity currently dominates the market in Europe, which saw 8.6 million cars shipped with embedded connectivity in 2021, according to Counterpoint Research. That represents 16% year-on-year growth and 4G market share will hit 91% in 2022 before declining as 5G takes over.
5G connected cars will have even greater capabilities.
5G delivers the low latency connectivity to enable forms of assisted driving and to offer passengers, not drivers, richer forms of in-car entertainment and information than ever before. When this technology is widely available connected cars will be able to use the higher speeds and lower latency to offer even greater opportunities to passengers, drivers, car makers and associated service providers.
Connected cars’ IoT related capabilities enable them to integrate with other systems allowing cars to interact with each other and the places they visit. Car parking, for example, could be simplified by the connected car integrating with a parking app that directs it to the nearest free space while handling reservation and payment. This will be of even greater value as electric car drivers seek access to public fast charging terminals which will, initially, be in limited supply in parking areas.
Internet of Things connected cars take the car from being a separate machine that operates in isolation to become an integral part of a chain of connected devices and events. Putting IoT in connected cars provides an added dimension for the car itself and offers the user greater flexibility. For the connected cars market this provides a new, expanded role for car makers because they typically provide the connected car service.
There is potential for them to gain service revenue or simply to strengthen their brand appeal by delivering a compelling rage of IoT applications for connected cars. An ecosystem of services is developing around internet of things connected cars and this will see car makers participating in a value chain that includes entertainment providers, content owners, application developers, fuel and charging businesses, maintenance organizations, device makers, technology innovators and adjacent retailers and other vehicles.
This vehicle-to-everything (V2X) connectivity has ignited concerns about connected cars and the use of IoT in connected cars. Headlines have talked about cars being hacked and vehicle safety systems manipulated but connected cars security is a priority for car makers and the connected cars market. Connected cars have security by design to prevent hacks and cybercrime because it is essential for market uptake that user information is protected and car data cannot be accessed by unauthorised actors.
The appeal of connected cars is multi-layered offering clear automotive-related benefits in terms of assisted driving, predictive maintenance, ease of software upgrades and safety.
These are set to be the baseline experiences of this generation of connected cars which will also augment and enhance drivers’ and passengers’ experiences with services that simplify and add value to car-related experiences. Car makers have a chance, in partnership with other organizations in the connected car ecosystem, to utilize cars’ embedded connectivity to generate revenues, increase customer loyalty and deliver richer experiences.