If we could put 2014 into a time capsule and open it at some point in the future, we might look back upon this last year as experiencing incredible breakthroughs in the connected car space. Without a doubt, 2014 was a year in which we witnessed technological, cultural and societal shifts that have begun to disrupt industries and set the stage for even more changes that will surely rock everyone’s world in 2015. Of all the newsworthy items, the C3 Report looks back on a few that we think are the most significant .
Silicon Valley becomes the center of automotive technology: This has been happening for years as more and more automakers open Silicon Valley R&D facilities (and Tesla, of course, emerged as an industry leader in automotive technology). However, we are now seeing collaborative work between the Valley and Detroit becoming a core component of automotive technology development. Google’s unveiling of its own autonomous vehicle concept was a big wake-up call any automakers that still doubted Silicon Valley’s influence over the auto technology narrative, driving more car companies to establish a presence in the area and even open their doors to developers on a full-time basis.
Advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) promoted over vehicle performance: Check out any car commercial in 2014 and you will notice the emergence of ADAS systems being touted front and center. This comes as no surprise to the C3 Report, and further study by Compass Intelligence illustrates the safety preferences of consumers when shopping for new cars. And as V2V technology is enabled in some global metropolitan cities in 2015, connected safety and driver assist will be viewed as an even stronger competitive advantage by automakers. In this brave new world, ADAS systems are now considered by consumers as more important in their car purchase than horsepower and 0-to-60 time.
Automaker’s in-car app development outsourced to tech companies: As 2014, began we were told by many automakers of their app development programs and how the center stack would be representative of their branding and differentiation. Well, this turned on its ear as company after company announced that Android Auto and Apple CarPlay would take over infotainment app duties and allow Google and Apple to manage scores of app updates and compatibility with potentially millions of in-car systems. We applauded this development, as it allows car and tech companies to respectively do what they do best in collaboration with each other, and makes infotainment easier and more seamless for car buyers. Now the question remains: Who will monetize the data generated by connected cars? Perhaps we’ll know answer to that in 2015.
On-board data processing enters a new, more powerful age: You would expect higher-end automakers such as Audi to offer rich graphic processing and sophisticated dash displays in their step-up models. Honda, however, illustrates that powerful visual computing capability is not just the domain of luxury vehicles. NVIDIA announced the inclusion of its latest Tegra mobile processor in Honda Connect systems in the European Civic, Civic Tourer and CR-V released in Europe in model year 2015. Enhanced user customization and less driver distraction are some of the benefits of high-definition visual computing and we are pleased to enter this new phase of advanced cockpit development.
Over-the-air (OTA) software updates define the potential of the connected car: Nobody could have predicted that an upstart electric car company in California would shake up the entire automotive industry in so many ways. Just one of these is how Tesla utilizes connected technology in practical ways that consumers can appreciate. For example, the Tesla Model S uses OTA software updates for upgrading infotainment and telematics features, and in some cases features that were not available when the car was purchased. While not exclusive to Tesla, the capability for OTA software updates makes the Model S a great example of how connected services can augment a vehicles features, operation, performance and safety, and how automakers can save a fortune by potentially not having to recall their cars.
The auto industry tackles data privacy: The Privacy Principles released in November offer a comprehensive approach for automakers to protect consumer data and offer additional value to the public that is already wary of how the data generated by their vehicles is managed. Not waiting for government regulation, the auto industry trade group the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers spearheaded this effort to create criteria for data privacy management that has been voluntarily adopted by all leading car makers. We hope this serves as a good model for automotive and technology industry self-regulation and a way to compress the time cycle for innovation while ensuring that the right steps are taken at the beginning of the effort.
Reflecting on 2014, one can clearly see the massive disruption of entire industries by connected technologies and the behavioral impact they have on how we live our lives and conduct our business. As we head into 2015, we have a strong feeling that this disruption has only just begun.