The networked vehicle takes center stage as automakers and telematics suppliers debut new solutions at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Andrew Tolve reports.
In this week’s Brief: Porsche, Opel, Jaguar Land Rover, Bosch SoftTec, Volkswagen, OnStar, Mercedes-Benz, QNX, Continental, IBM, TomTom, Ford, Renault, Sony and Nokia.
It says something of the growing acceptance of telematics when one of Europe’s biggest auto shows is themed around the “networked vehicle,” as was the case last week at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
Granted, the show included its usual indulgence in smoke, lights, scantily-clad women and eye-popping concept cars, but nearly all of the 150 new cars on display boasted connectivity features, many of them debuting in-car connectivity for the very first time.
On the first day of the show, Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel took a tour of some of the electric vehicles (EVs) on display, including Porsche’s new Panamera S E-Hybrid model. The car marks a first on two fronts: Porsche’s first foray into the world of EVs, and its first telematics platform, Porsche Car Connect. The latter is an in-dash solution with navigation, Bluetooth, apps and various remote control functionalities, like stolen vehicle tracking.
“The car industry, including all classes of cars, belongs to growth and innovation,” Merkel said. “There is no point in limiting yourself to one class of car or only to small cars. We know that the innovation chain includes all types.”
Across the exhibition floor, under a banner emblazoned with “Die Neue Generation Infotainment” (The New Generation Infotainment), Opel introduced Intellilink, its new infotainment platform in Europe. In addition to staples like in-dash navigation, Internet radio and Bluetooth, the system includes handwriting recognition and Siri Eyes Free. Opel said the system will cost €300 in Germany in its various models, including the ADAM JAM, SLAM and GLAM.
Nearby, the new MySPIN infotainment system from Bosch SoftTec made its first appearance in Jaguar Land Rover’s Rover Sport. MySPIN works with both iOS and Android, and it links apps to the dashboard by harnessing smartphone connectivity. Bosch SoftTec said that MySPIN also provides developers with a software development kit to ensure the compatibility of new apps. Jaguar suggested that the infotainment system will hit the market in Jaguar vehicles in 2014.
Volkswagen rolled out its VW Car-Net platform in Europe. The system is similar to GM’s OnStar in that it provides comprehensive roadside assistance and crash notification bundled with connectivity features like in-vehicle navigation, remote vehicle status and remote lock/unlock. A mobile app and web portal enable the remote access features. VW said at the show that it plans to introduce Car-Net at the start of 2014.
Meanwhile, in the “Festhalle” at the show, Mercedes-Benz debuted a Concept S-Class Coupe with a new infotainment system powered by the QNX CAR platform. The instrument cluster and head unit are all-digital, with 3D dials and a screen technology that uses high-definition particle effects to create a sense of depth and movement. QNX said that the infotainment system on display represents the “near future of automotive connectivity and infotainment,” although just how near the system is to being market-ready remained unclear.
Automotive supplier Continental and IBM jointly agreed to develop a scalable cloud platform that will enable automakers to deliver a range of new mobile, in-car services, such as software updates and vehicle control device functionality, over the Internet. IBM said the cloud solution will help to remove costly and inconvenient workshop visits and open up revenue-sharing opportunities with other industries, including public transportation, insurance and retail. Both companies said they see the partnership as a way to expedite the Big Data opportunity in automotive.
TomTom kept itself busy at the show with a suite of announcements on the real-time traffic and navigation services front, making public new deals with Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Renault and Sony. The TomTom Navigation app for Ford SYNC will provide turn-by-turn navigation to Ford SYNC users, while Mercedes said it plans to add TomTom real-time traffic alerts in 2014.
In addition to its expanded OEM partnerships, TomTom announced TomTom LINK 100, a new OBD2 dongle that will enable a smartphone to connect to real-time vehicle and driving information. TomTom said that, in addition to drivers gleaning useful info from their cars, third parties will be able to create a range of new mobile applications that make use of vehicle information and driver usage.
Finally, Nokia gave Frankfurt Motor Show attendees the first peek at its revamped navigation system, HERE Auto. No longer a mere A-to-B application, HERE Auto is now a complete, connected driving solution — now replete with 2D and 3D maps that are continuously updated — that allows OEMs to connect the car and the driver to the cloud.
The Frankfurt Motor Show runs through Sept. 22.
The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.
Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to TU.
For all the latest telematics trends, check out Telematics Japan/China 2013 on Oct. 8-10 in Tokyo, Telematics Munich 2013 on Nov. 11-12 in Munich, Germany, Telematics for Fleet Management USA 2013 on Nov. 20-21 in Atlanta, Georgia, and Content and Apps for Automotive USA 2013 on Dec. 11-12 in San Francisco.
For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports: Telematics Connectivity Strategies Report 2013, The Automotive HMI Report 2013, Insurance Telematics Report 2013 and Fleet & Asset Management Report 2012.