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Where's the value in connected cars?

John Day

John Day

Posted Mar 14, 2012

Telematics Update sponsors some worthwhile webinars and I just sat in on one, the topic of which was “Harnessing Telematics Data to Provide Value for Automaker & Customer.”

There is a lot of data being harnessed. An executive from INRIX spoke about the 70 million or so data points in North America and Europe – devices, drivers, and infrastructure – from which it can aggregate information. The industry goal for telematics, he explained, is to deliver personalized, relevant information, seamlessly (and safely) to vehicles as well as to mobile devices and desktops. Next, an executive from WirelessCar noted that only two percent of vehicles are currently connected, and finally a manager from Mercedes-Benz USA presented the automaker’s priorities for its mbrace telematics system.

Where’s the value? What do automotive customers want most from their connected cars and how can personalized, relevant information be delivered to them seamlessly? Answering a multiple choice question, more than half of the webinar attendees selected navigation and traffic as the information category customers are most likely to pay for. My own exceedingly unscientific survey confirmed that, but it led me to wonder what navigation combined with real time traffic would look like. It seems to me the value at any given time depends on the availability and reliability of alternative routing, which in turn depends upon the proximity of the path to the alternate route and the congestion or lack of it there. Until cars have wings, that may be as good as it gets.

There is more value to be gained, including weather up ahead, points of interest (POI), and whatever else clever marketers can think up. Mercedes sees value in a closer link between the customer and the automaker and/or the dealer, either or both of whom can access – with the customer’s permission – the vehicle’s diagnostic data. I can see value in that if/when the vehicle breaks down; otherwise, from the customer’s perspective, it could be intrusive, e.g., “you need an oil change, and oil changes are on special this week at _____.”

INRIX, mbrace telematics system, connected car, WirelessCar, Mercedes-Benz USA, Telematics Update

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News ( to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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