The concept of being constantly online, streaming music, and accessing multiple social media accounts is part of our everyday lives – naturally, we expect it to be significant in our future vehicles as well.
While the internet is a major aspect of this growing trend, connected cars are not limited to social media or webpages. In fact, many connected cars on the road today are already capable of far more. They are able to read traffic situations and suggest alternative routes; automatically set the speed and brake; or set off warnings when the front or rear bumper gets too close to another object.
The new BMW 7 Series can self-park at the push of a button: cameras analyse and calculate the parking space, and the car automatically reverses into the space. Ford has developed “MyFord Mobile,” an application that can control the car climate of the car from a mobile device, and provide tracking and direction technology. The Tesla Model S already offers its own highway autopilot system, which only requires driver input when coming off the motorway, or for emergency purposes.
These features sound innovative – life-changing even – so why aren’t connected cars taking off as quickly as expected? In fact, most of us have already been in an early model of a connected car without knowing it – whether it was a GPS system warning about a traffic jam, or a rear view camera assisting with parking. One of the biggest challenges faced by the connected car industry is that due to the new, unique nature of the trend, many users remain uninformed about the technology’s capabilities.
The fact that almost half of consumers have never heard of a connected car comes as a result of a misperception. Many of us think of connected cars as regular cars with certain technological features or upgrades, and it’s this gap in knowledge that we must address as we move forward within the vehicle industry.
Awareness of connected cars fluctuates depending on countries or regions. In high growth markets such as India or China, consumers are more likely to be interested and educated regarding high-tech vehicles – especially when compared to mature markets such as Western Europe. Many of these nations are desperate to solve their traffic and pollution issues, while simultaneously experiencing rapid changes in lifestyle. Age is another influential factor, with younger consumers tending to know more, and countries with lower average ages leading the way.
Even amongst consumers with knowledge of connected cars, there is a growing distrust of the technology. As customers demand more data privacy, they fear increasingly that connected cars will track their daily activities, and with the vehicle space often used as a place to reflect, talk with family or unwind, infringement on privacy is less tolerated. Consumer concerns also question the security of the car when it comes to hackers, especially given the potentially disastrous consequences of someone gaining unwanted control of a vehicle.
Looking into the future, it’s likely that connected cars will be able to track where a driver is headed, monitor their driving behaviour, and even offer them targeted advertisements. As customers become more aware of the connected car trend, the growth potential is enormous. Connected cars are expected to become increasingly popular in the next five years, as OEMs cooperate with technology giants such as Google, Apple and Microsoft.
Modix is looking to lead the way by supporting our clients in this rapidly evolving environment, and constantly monitoring how our products and solutions can integrate with connected vehicles and connected consumers. Forecasts show that by 2020, roughly 220 million connected cars will be cruising the streets. On top of this, 97% of North American, 95% of Western Europe, and 75% of all globally produced vehicles after 2020 will be fully connected models.
What the future holds after the 2020s however, is difficult to say, but chances are that vehicles will slowly take responsibility away from drivers, with human input only required in emergency situations. This development could lower emissions, traffic jams, and accident rates, due to the reduction of human error. Within our lifetimes, it may be possible that on the drive to work, ‘drivers’ are able to use a touchscreen or read a newspaper without even looking at the road.