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Connected Cars Have Blind Spots

As computers and connectivity become prevalent in the automotive industry, we’re finding more ways in which your “electronic tires” can be slashed. It goes beyond leaving your personal information footprints in a rental car – or even having a hacker stop you cold on an interstate highway – as we discussed earlier this year.

Technology is lapping the car companies’ capability to keep up with the latest developments. With Internet connectivity just about anywhere in the US, it’s easy for any automotive service provider to “talk” to your car. In fact, Tesla has made a point about that. Because their system is so software-driven, they can make repairs directly through an Internet connection while the car sits in a garage.

The manufacturers of more mainstream cars, though, are still increasing their use of the Internet to avoid you having to return to the dealer just for a software update. While your first thought is probably getting updated maps or upgrades for your factory-installed navigation system, it can go much farther than that.

According to an article in Auto Connected Car News by Brian Jonston, over-the-air (OTA) software updates can reduce warranty costs, potentially increase overall completion rates for software-related recalls, improve customer satisfaction by eliminating trips to the dealership for software upgrades or fixes, and provide the ability to upgrade functionality and add features to automotive infotainment systems over a vehicle’s lifetime. He cites a report from IHS Automotive that estimates auto manufacturers worldwide could save $35 billion in recall and update costs by 2022, mostly for telematics and infotainment system updates.

“Japanese OEMs have been pioneers in navigation map updates in Japan via their telematics systems. BMW, VW and Tesla have all recently announced OTA procedures for updating navigation maps,” Jonston writes. “Hyundai and Ford both have proof of concept systems for OTA map updates, and will also likely deploy such systems in the near term. Total vehicles in operations that are enabled with map OTA updates are projected to grow from approximately 1.2 million units in 2015 to nearly 32 million units by 2022, according to IHS forecasts.”

Jonston adds that Infotainment software OTA updates are much larger and more complex than software app updates and need to use Wi-Fi rather than LTE 4G service because of mobile network limitations. This category is emerging and will be a growth segment in the next five years, with players like Ford, Chrysler and GM expected to adopt these systems. Infotainment software updates, such as updates to the infotainment OS and user interface, will grow quickly over the next six years to more than 96.4 million enabled vehicles by 2022.

The OEMs that use software platforms most effectively will be able to save costs and improve sales and customer retention. But they need to get into the fast lane on the information superhighway. My car lease, for example, is up in the very near future, and the level of technology is stopping me from getting a new model. I’ve experienced numerous problems, especially with Bluetooth compatibility with my cell phones and infotainment systems.

It all makes me wonder if the auto manufacturers can catch up to companies such as Apple and Google, who seem to be able to do a much better job of integrating their systems. With the new model year for cars generating excitement (and generating deals for clearing out last year’s models), you might be thinking about a new car. We can help you look at the infotainment features of the cars you are considering and help you integrate your devices with the car – avoiding multiple trips to the dealer or an aftermarket systems provider. Knowing how you use technology, we can help you buy and install the technology you need to get full benefits and enjoyment from your system. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to answer your questions and get you on the road.