A recent conversation with the Platform Architect for Connected Car program of a major OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer), sent us wandering into the debate of how would the future look like for Connected Cars. Here are highlights of our discussion –
What has resulted in the current proliferation of Telematics in the Automotive Industry?
Vehicle Data Collection is the primary driver for telematics growth. The fact is that the onboarded Telematics Control Unit (TCU) can collect data and push it to cloud over high bandwidth networks cost-effectively. Moreover, big data platforms allow OEMs to run advanced analytics, which have been a major contributor to the telematics growth story. This presents a lot of opportunities to OEMs in Service, Parts, Warranty operations, as real-time vehicle data offers a treasure trove of insights on vehicle health, parts failure forecasting, driver behaviour and the like.
How is the Telematics scene changing over the last couple of years, and what lies ahead?
Initially, all OEMs started with the idea of offering consumers features of Convenience, Infotainment & Safety. However, recent programs of all major OEMs have shifted focus to vehicle data acquisition, rather than rudimentary convenience features. This presents a plethora of opportunities for OEMs to launch services like predictive maintenance services; monetizing analytic insights on anonymized data with Insurance providers; and highly targeted & contextual marketing, to name a few . In fact, all large OEMs have spun-off their Data-driven Connected Enterprises as subsidiaries – e.g. Toyota Connect, Ford Pass, etc.
All OEMs have built their Connected Car Platforms in-house, how is this changing?
Even though most OEMs had started with proprietary platforms, Android/iOS are slated to become primary integration platforms. All OEMs are moving to integrating Android Auto & Apple Car Play, essentially because of their massive penetration & device interoperability. The primary driver for this trend is to pull out content seamlessly from a central cloud storage, on one device to another (like AppleTV, iPhone, Car Play, etc). Consumers value this ease-of-use over proprietary platforms, which do not sync well with their other devices. With the launch of Amazon’s Alexa Automotive, this space is bound to get even more competitive.
So, is the trend shifting from proprietary to open source, when it comes to Connected Car platforms?
Yes, as the industry matures, it is resulting in standardization of protocols in communication, security and the like. So, IoT Platforms have a huge potential in becoming platforms of choice, as the Connected Car Platform (Device Management Capability) and OEMs move towards further standardization. So, all that OEMs will have to do, is just collect the data and push it to the platform for storage & analytics. This can reduce the Time-to-Market drastically and control Total Cost of Ownership for the OEMs, as they continue to struggle with proprietary platforms, which need to scale manifold to meet the growing fleet of connected vehicles.
What are the major issues in the Connected Car Programs across OEMs?
Integration & Management of multi-vendor programs is a nightmare for most OEMs. With multiple suppliers and stakeholders, releases become complicated and slow, and hence, standardization of platforms can help in easier integration. Eventually, a time will come, when only the Telematics Control Unit (TCU) & the Head Unit of the car (which are the Data Acquisition Units), will likely remain proprietary to the OEMs and the rest of the components would be standardized in the industry.
So, what are the top three defining trends of the Connected Car for the future?
- Driverless Industry is going to drive technology trends in the connected car segment. There are huge investments in this area by traditional, as well as new-age auto makers.
- Content provisioning is going to be car-agnostic. So, be it a rental vehicle or a family car, each consumer will get personalized content delivered to them, by the virtue of shared storage and device-agnostic accessibility.
- Fleet Sharing/ Ride Sharing brings out more opportunities for OEMs in the connected car space, as they offer servitization of mobility. Most OEMs are participating as partners or investors in such programs, with digital mobility companies like Lyft, Uber, etc. This will lead to cross-pollination of technology advancement and faster consumer adoption.
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