Connected car technology made huge advances in 2014. Google and Apple became major in-dash app development players, the auto industry began self-regulating the privacy of the data generated by vehicles, and Silicon Valley became the uncontested center of automotive technology innovation. It was a year that, as explained by C3 Group president Doug Newcomb, “offers further proof that technology is reshaping automotive in the same way it’s transformed industries ranging from music to medicine.”
Looking ahead to 2015, we expect even more disruption for car companies as well as associated industries. Here are five key areas that we believe are important and worthy of attention in the upcoming year:
1. Driver Assist Systems Available in More Vehicles
As technology drives down the cost of driver assist technology, we expect to see more vehicles at lower price points incorporate features such as forward collision warning, blind spot detection, adaptive headlights and active braking. We know that Toyota, Cadillac, Honda and others have such ambitions and will be rolling out models in the coming year in an effort to achieve scale which will lower costs even further. We will also see more aftermarket driver assist products at lower prices that offer functionality that rivals factory-installed systems.
2. Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication Appears in Model Year 2016 Cars
While automakers anxiously await word of communication bandwidth and frequency standards for V2V and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications systems in the U.S., some will take the initiative and embed the technology in their MY2016 vehicles. We reported that Toyota would make this leadership move in the Japanese market since automakers and regulators in Tokyo have already determined V2V and V2I standards there. And what better way to ensure that your vehicles are future-proof than to include the technology in your global platform program? While Cadillac claims that it will begin offering V2V and V2I technologies in its vehicles beginning in MY2017, we would not be surprised if the tech quietly found its way into GM vehicles sooner.
3. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Will Become Widely Available
Many automakers have been watching how Apple and Google have been disrupting the infotainment system development process, and for good reason. Automakers have proven time and time again that this is not their area of expertise, realizing that in order to get to market with vehicles that deliver an acceptable in-car infotainment experience, they must partner with companies that do this for a living. 2015 will be the year in which we see automakers finally deliver Apple CarPlay and Android Auto options in their vehicles, with accelerated development of next-generation infotainment systems taking place in 2015 as automakers collaborate with developers more closely than ever.
4. Automakers Will Monetizing Data Generated by Vehicles
Was this year’s disruption caused by Google and Apple a wake-up call to automakers? You bet it was, and automakers have been scrambling to re-capture ownership of their connected car programs and how the data that is generated is used and (hopefully) monetized. We believe data analytics and cloud computing will gain a new focus among automakers in 2015, with some building new technology platforms that capture and manage data in ways that were typically the domain of Microsoft or Google. We will see more companies take action similar to Jaguar Land Rover and use this data to personalize the driving experience, thus increasing consumer loyalty and retention. We also expect to see more automakers incorporating over-the-air software updates to reduce the likelihood of recalls and add connected features wherever possible.
5. Ride-Sharing Services Will Face More Challenges
Disruptive movements are typically met with resistance from groups representing the status quo, and the ride-sharing services that made headlines in 2014 are no different. The rising popularity of services such as Uber and Lyft will guarantee that more legal and regulatory pressure will be leveled against them as groups representing taxi drivers protect their turf. We also expect to see car-sharing take on a higher profile in 2015 as urban dwellers in particular demonstrate that car ownership is quickly becoming a less desirable economic choice and that multi-modal transportation not only saves money but becomes a smarter, more efficient means of getting around. Can a car-sharing smartphone app threaten the entire auto industry? Probably not, but having more transportation choices will certainly cause disruption to automakers if these choices make practical sense to consumers.
We enter 2015 confident that this year will bring incredible challenges and further disruption to a quickly-evolving connected car and mobility movement. Connected technologies will continue to enrich our lives and give us capabilities that were previously not possible even a year ago. 2015 will be yet another transformative year and we can’t wait to embrace the change.