How connected cars help manufacturers engage with their customers in new ways

A lot has changed in cars as we know them - digitised instrument clusters, Bluetooth enabled music systems, GPS navigation etc. However, overall driver involvement has remained the same. The evolution of connected cars could soon change that.

By: | Published: December 9, 2019 5:52 PM
connected cars Image for representational purposes only

In a world where people are more connected than ever before, at work, at home and on-the-go, why should that change when we get behind the wheel? For the best part of 100 years, the driving experience has barely changed. The speedometer and other instruments became digitised, built-in GPS has made it harder to get lost, and Bluetooth-connected devices replaced FM radio as the main source of entertainment, but the overall dashboard design and driver’s involvement has remained, broadly speaking, similar over the years.

The evolution of the connected car will soon change that – and the transformation will come from how we interact with our vehicles and the way they communicate with the world around them.

From the moment the car door is unlocked to the time they pull up to their final destination, the vehicle’s connected features will enable a fundamentally different experience for the driver and passenger, leaving many of today’s current pain points a thing of the past.

For starters, onboard digital assistants will do away with many of the buttons and dials that clog up dashboards, allowing both drivers and passengers to control everything by their voice –from the cabin environment to find the best route for your journey.

For the trips you make routinely, the car will learn which route you take to work every day. If there are problems reported on the way it’ll warn you as soon as you get into the vehicle, offering various alternative routes that still allow you to stop off for a morning pick-me-up from your preferred chain of coffee shops.

Even if the coast is clear it’ll let you know in advance if any outlets en route have special offers that match your preferences, so you can decide to change your route ever so slightly if it means saving a few pennies. From the retailer’s perspective, it presents new opportunities to directly market to drivers in the immediate vicinity as passengers could even use their journeys to order online shopping via one of the car’s displays. I mean won’t we all love it if we get an instant notification from the ‘on-our-way-to-work’ Starbucks about the arrival of pumpkin spice latte as soon as the famous autumn drink is in the store!

Combined with driver-specific data, this will enable highly customised advertising based on location, personal habits and vehicle status. This could be used to publicise local retailers and attractions, particularly to people driving in from out of town. If car-use moves away from mere ownership to a mobility-as-a-service type model, this ability to upsell services to customers that are just passing through could prove crucial, particularly in autonomous vehicles when people will have more time at their disposal.

Enhanced connectivity will also mean that in-car entertainment doesn’t need to stop once the drive is over. If you are watching a movie on the car screen and you reach home while it’s still streaming, you wouldn’t need to start the movie from beginning at your home TV. With seamless connectivity between the devices, you can start watching itat home from where you left off in the car!

Increasing number of data points will also generate more comprehensive insights into how the car is driven. Moreover, enhanced connectivity will change the way mechanical issues and breakdowns are handled, and updates

In the past, many car owners would just carry on driving when a warning light came on and hope it went away. But with centralised records and real-time access to telematics and service logs, owners and service centres will be able to deal with mechanical issues preemptively, allowing small problems to be dealt with before they become larger ones.

Connectivity will also enable over-the-air software updates, allowing automatic fixing of bugs, and security enhancement. However, these updates need to be done in an “intelligent” way, so that the engine software suddenly doesn’t start updating while the car is still on the road and results in a complete vehicle failure - risking the passengers’ safety.

If more critical breakdowns occur on the road, this always-on connectivity also ensures detailed vehicle information can be accessed no matter when and where issues occur, with drivers sent to the most suitable, best-equipped service centre for the job. It can also allow for routine maintenance to be more easily scheduled, arranged and carried out, while manufacturers will be able to quickly spot more widespread issues with particular vehicle models.

This connected network will soon extend to roadside signage, traffic control systems and other street furniture, known as V2X (vehicle-to-everything) connectivity. With more components of the transport infrastructure talking to each other, it won’t just be the traffic that’ll start flowing more smoothly. Insurers will have a much clearer picture of what happened during accidents and collisions, including who was driving each vehicle and who the other insurance companies involved are, while better-informed emergency services and recovery vehicles will be able to respond more efficiently.

Vehicle connectivity: Technology in cars takes the wheel

All of this combines to offer drivers more relevant, customised services while they’re behind the wheel and opens up opportunities for all parts of the connected car ecosystem to bring new services to the market more cost-effectively than ever. With the opportunity to get involved in more varying aspects of people’s lives like a smartphone does, brands could become much more than just a badge on the front of the bonnet or a third-party logo on the dashboard’s touchscreen.

Just like cars would be useless without roads to drive them on, connected cars need world-class infrastructure in order to communicate effectively. Whereas previous solutions relied on physical SIMs, tying owners to one operator for the lifecycle of the car and making updates a challenge, adopting a unified approach to connectivity is the only way for drivers, manufacturers and the many other players involved in the automotive industry to realise the full potential of a connected car ecosystem.

This seamless, secure connectivity, enabled by eSIM technology and Tata Communications’ relationship with 640 mobile network operators around the world, creates a platform that works globally, enabling a truly borderless connectivity. This all-encompassing, more reliable infrastructure enables all kinds of highly customised in-car features and services, which will only grow as more cars get connected.

Author: Tim Sherwood, Vice President, Mobility and IoT, Tata Communications

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author. These views and opinions do not represent those of The Indian Express Group or any of its employees.

Do you know What is Automated Manual Transmission (AMT), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Anti-Lock Braking System, Power Steering? FE Knowledge Desk explains each of these and more in detail at Financial Express Explained. Also get Live BSE/NSE Stock Prices, latest NAV of Mutual Funds, Best equity funds, Top Gainers, Top Losers on Financial Express. Don’t forget to try our free Income Tax Calculator tool.

Get the latest cars price and upcoming bikes price in India exclusively at Financial Express. Stay tuned for new cars and bikes reviews, follow us on twitter, Facebook and subscribe us on YouTube for latest auto news.

Next Stories
1BS-VI Yamaha YZF-R15 V3 launched at Rs 1,45,300: New features and coloured wheels
2Maruti Suzuki patents Futuro-E ahead of 2020 Auto Expo: Brand’s first electric car?
3Difference between service costs of BS-IV, BS-VI petrol and diesel vehicles