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Connected cars: What’s in store

driver car at night navigation display Source: fotolia/lightpoet

The passenger automobile is one of the venues where there is tremendous opportunity for adding connectivity.  You can use your mobile feature phone in the car, but that feels a little like retrofitting an old rotary-dial phone into your 21st-century home. In both, the developed and emerging worlds, it’s common for commuters to spend 1-2 hours per day driving in their automobiles to work. Isn’t it odd that new automobiles with all their computer componentry are not ubiquitously connected? What does the world of connected cars have in store for us?

Based on our Internet of Things (IoT) research and Analysys Mason’s M2M worldwide forecast, there will be 279 million connected road vehicles worldwide by 2021. Of those vehicles, 66% or 185 million of will be passenger connected cars. The remainder will be commercial vehicles equipped with fleet management solutions. Approximately 54% of passenger connected cars by 2021 will be in developed markets like Europe, North America and the developed countries of Asia. This obviously leaves a tremendous opportunity in emerging markets including China, India, Brazil, the Middle East and other emerging countries.

Consumers have traditionally relied on bringing their own devices – notably mobile handsets – to remain connected while in their cars, because most cars do not have built-in wireless connectivity. However, various developments are now leading car manufacturers to incorporate sensors and embedded connectivity – cellular and, in some cases also Wi-Fi – within their vehicles.


Key IoT applications that are facilitated by embedded connectivity in cars

  • Safety: European safety initiatives, such as eCall, rely on connectivity to contact emergency services and transmit the location of a vehicle to them, even if its occupants are unable to do so. Various car manufacturers have incorporated eCall within their range of connected services.
  • Navigation and informational services: The addition of connectivity to built-in satellite navigation systems enables drivers to receive real-time traffic information, which would help them to avoid congestion or other delays. Manufacturers typically include this feature as part of a suite of connected car services. Additional information services include concierge calling services. In addition, several car manufacturers have used embedded connectivity to provide services such as tracking and access to roadside assistance or other technical services.
  • Vehicle management: The emergence of fully electric vehicles has led to the growth of cloud-based vehicle management services, which enables owners to remotely check the distance their car can travel on the current battery level in order to allay ‘range anxiety’, or switch on their in-car heating a few minutes prior to setting off. Engine diagnostics also fit into this application category whether that information is provided to end-users, dealerships, manufacturers or repair shops.
  • Infotainment: Built-in connectivity enables content and information to be streamed directly to the vehicle, giving consumers access to it as part of a more convenient and integrated experience without having to use separate devices, which might be distracting or dangerous. Several car manufacturers have already launched in-car tablets, which feature apps and multimedia content.


Features that are currently available only in high-end cars will eventually enter the mainstream, especially as upgraded services from vendor-independent manufacturers become increasingly adopted. Prestige car maker BMW was one of the first manufacturers to launch its emergency call function in the USA, in 1997, and made the service available in Germany in 1999. BMW has since expanded the ConnectedDrive service to incorporate a wide range of services, such as those described above.

In addition, the launch of all-electric vehicles brings mobility. These solutions solve some of the unique requirements of electric vehicles including charging.

We expect the majority of new cars in developed markets to have embedded connectivity within the next five years, turning the car into yet another connected node.

Share your thoughts about IoT in the automotive sector. Which other services would you like to see and use in your car? Everyone loves talking about cars!


  • 8. August 2013 at 16:37

    @ Sammie — Thanks for the comment. It’s really exciting to think about connected cars and the various applications we will have access to in the future. How do you think the various car manufacturers will differentiate themselves in this market? Do you think they will convince consumers that their connected solution is different from other manufacturers? The Volvo/Ericsson/Spotify example is a good one!

  • 8. August 2013 at 15:58

    The news comes on the heels of another Swedish company, Ericsson, making news with the announcement that it will be providing its Connected Vehicle Cloud service for Volvo, which features the Spotify integration. And it also highlights Volvo’s unique approach to telematics and connected-car services.

  • 18. July 2013 at 16:42

    @ Isidro — Thanks for the comment. You bring up a great point. I think it’s very much a sign of the development of the Internet of Things (IoT) when we can link-together or mash-up various applications to really improve quality of life, business productivity, innovation, etc. Your example of linking together automotive and life-sciences is such a good one. What other types of things are you seeing?

  • 18. July 2013 at 6:37

    These are no longer childish notions. The automotive and transportation industries are entering a phase of the most significant innovation since the popularization of personal automobiles a hundred years ago. Similar to the way telephones have evolved into smart phones, over the next 10 years automobiles will rapidly become “connected vehicles” that access, consume, and create information and share it with drivers, passengers, public infrastructure, and machines including other cars. We can already predict benefits such as reduced accident rates, improved productivity, lowered emissions, and on-demand entertainment for passengers. The rise of connected cars will lead to widespread changes affecting many kinds of businesses, not to mention governments and communities. As just one example, we are seeing collaborations between automakers and life-science companies to develop in-vehicle health-monitoring sensors that can transmit data about the driver’s health in case of an emergency.

  • 12. July 2013 at 19:53

    @ gold price — thanks for the comment. I think the concept of collision-avoidance systems is a wonderful example of IoT. It combines various types of communications technology with some really amazing data analytics/aggregation solutions and predictive technologies.

    What do you think about some of the challenges to overcome (e.g., technology limitations, liability, security, etc.)

  • 12. July 2013 at 18:28

    Cars can report diagnostic information to head off potentially expensive repairs and can receive system updates over a wireless data connection, using either an embedded radio or a phone linked to the car’s systems through Bluetooth. But using short-range wireless technology, cars can also broadcast information about their position, direction, and speed to nearby vehicles. This would allow collision-avoidance systems that are both less costly and more comprehensive than current approaches, which rely heavily on radar.

  • 1. July 2013 at 19:33

    @ Jules — Thanks for the comment. UBI (usage based insurance) is a great IoT solution to help better match the price of insurance deductibles with the actual driver behavior. It’s also interesting to see the new business model — and partnerships — involved in bringing the solution to market. Seems like the UK and USA are leading the way with some interesting solutions. Did you have any particular UBI solutions in mind?

  • 29. June 2013 at 16:09

    Insurers are also pushing connectivity in cars. Usagebased insurance is an area gathering momentum as insurers are interested in collecting data to have a better understanding of what is happening with driver behaviour. Today, the usage based insurance model requires the customer to take a small plug-in device that is inserted into a port in the connected car. This unit feeds data from the car back to the insurer which will reward drivers with lower rates on the provision of evidence that they do not drive their vehicles very often.

  • 25. June 2013 at 17:26

    @Neil, Thanks for the comment. I love the solution like BMW/SIXT where the data is accessible while i’m in the car, but disappears afterwards. I also think about ways to mash-up that data and other available data from the “car platform”. I wonder how issues of privacy will thwart these types of things.

    Having access to the information is important. Data federation from all these sources is also important. It has to be easy to collect these various data and secure them.

    What other applications? What other opportunities?

  • 25. June 2013 at 16:24

    Perhaps the interface is less important but having access to my information in the right situation and the right format at the right time is the most important thing. While in the car the platform should be the car. While outside the car it is the smartphone.

    DriveNow carsharing from BMW/SIXT is a good example. The addresses I save in my DriveNow app are available on the Navigation system of the car as soon as I start the engine; and gone when I leave the car again.

  • 25. June 2013 at 6:11

    Thanks for the comment, Jenny. Do you think the primary connectivity interface for all these solutions in a car will be over a smartphone? Some think that is the case, while others believe an embedded module in the car is more likely to provide services. What do you think?


  • 22. June 2013 at 2:29

    DRIVING DEMAND: SMARTPHONESWith the increasing processing power of smartphones and faster wireless network speeds, consumers have come to rely on their mobile phones for much more than phone calls. The rapid adoption of smartphones has increased consumers’ appetites for connected information on the go. Consumers increasingly want their cars to provide the connectivity they are accustomed to in their everyday lives – my data, on my things, on the go. In fact, Gartner believes that by 2016, wireless connectivity in cars will be as traditional as power steering is today.