The connected cars marketplace has been around for a few years. But, at times, it feels like the industry is stuck on the starting grid, revving furiously without going anywhere. It’s as if everyone is trying to figure out where the sector is headed, who’s on board – and who’s paying for what?
You could compare the industry’s journey to a long road trip where the destination seems always “around the next bend” … but you never quite get there.
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Patience will pay off
Despite the hold-ups, change could come very soon. City A.M ran a story that suggested two out of every three cars sold by 2022 would have some sort of connectivity – and the market would be worth a jaw-dropping £120bn by then, according to PWC.
With all that potential, it’s no surprise large players are positioning themselves. There are those rumours of Apple taking a stake in McLaren, talk of Uber’s self-driving trials in Pittsbrough, Ford’s dynamic car-sharing experiment and Daimler working on VANs with auto-pilot.
But a lot of quiet innovation is happening too – in areas such as entertainment, telematics, cyber security and assisted driving. It’s not just the pure-play car giants involved either. Small companies in the automotive industry and adjacent industries are also doing some amazing things that could transform our driving experience very soon.
Many exciting breakthroughs could happen at once. But like a gridlocked city centre, there’s only so much that each player can do – unless someone else moves first, or at the same time. In fact, the connected cars market will only really get fully up and running when you spot these five areas receiving serious attention:
Sign #1: Internet connectivity
Connected cars will need reliable, mobile, always-on connectivity, whether you’re nipping around London or enjoying rural Scotland.
Sign #2: Interoperability/infrastructure
Connected cars will need to communicate with sensors in the surrounding environment, based on industry standards that guarantee interoperability and a ubiquitous infrastructure.
Sign #3: Security
Any risks that criminals or mischief-makers can hack cars, mess with operating systems and apply the brakes or accelerator at random moments, must be addressed by watertight security.
Sign #4: Laws and insurance
As more automotive power is taken from drivers and placed in the ‘hands’ of software, road safety rules and insurance liabilities/responsibilities will need some rethinking.
Sign #5: Smart cities
Rather than simply accommodating connected cars within existing networks, new cities and towns will begin to design for them when new roads and communities are planned. In fact, being a “connected car city” may become a unique selling point for metropolitan areas looking to attract new businesses, investment and tech-loving citizens.
Who will be ready?
Tech companies, transports firms, entrepreneurs and investors will be watching developments closely. When these five sets of lights finally all change to green, then the race to deliver new motoring experiences will prove unstoppable. The question is – will you be a passenger or a driver?
Stefano Maifreni is founder and director at Eggcelerate, trusted advisers for SMBs. His background includes 15 years in senior management for global blue-chip organisations where he played a pivotal role in the growth of leading technology companies. He realised that the strategies he was developing for larger organisations would work perfectly well for smaller organisations too. He had a hunch that small businesses often received poor advice and upon further investigation and talks with small business owners this was repeatedly confirmed. He realised that the SME market needed a company like Eggcelerate and launched his own start-up, a professional services company, in 2014.