Eight Predictions About The Connected Car World Of 2020

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Justin Vaughan-Brown from CA Technologies tells us some of his predictions about the connected car of tomorrow

As an increasing number of vehicles are promoted based on their application capabilities and integration with the driver’s smartphone, the momentum is only increasing when it comes to the development of Connected Cars, but what does the future look like? Here are a few predictions:

1) “Expert cafes” within dealerships

Certain manufacturers at the forefront of the connected car industry sell directly and have removed the need for a channel, but plenty of others continue to retain a network of dealerships. The growth of the application economy and the connected car industry will help increase touchpoints with the customer, with a potential for free app “tune-ups” or diagnostics to encourage drivers to come into the forecourt.

2) Soft(ware) skills are at a premium

volvo car communicationThe employees manning “expert cafes” will find themselves in demand. Innovation that goes beyond pure design and involves a holistic view of the total driving experience enhanced by technology will be at a premium. Employees who understand and can harness the potential of APIs that help systems integrate and interact with each other will be particularly sought after.

3) “Better Call…”

The legal ramifications of the rise of the connected car are particularly daunting and span various scenarios such as self-made and self-taught tech experts that hack a car’s systems and networks.  How does that impact legal liability in the case of an accident? Will we see insurance companies asking for evidence that the software of the car in an accident be un-tampered, much as 20 years ago insurers would check that an engine has not been tuned or modified before agreeing a settlement figure? There’s also the question of who owns the intellectual property and the associated software that comes with a vehicle. This is just the tip of the legal iceberg.

4) A vehicle as personalised as your latte

The connected car takes the personalisation concept much further with voice acting as the key to personalised news feeds, favourite music, preferred vehicle temperature, the day’s meetings, address book and more. If the car has multiple drivers, the voice activation automatically switches the profile to match who is behind the wheel at that moment in time. Vehicles will be an embodiment of the driver’s personality and will reinforce what is, in many cases, a close affinity to a piece of technology only rivalled for affection or importance by the smartphone.

5) Safety first

Several initiatives are already underway that will hopefully make driving less risky, such as Usage Based Insurance (UBI). A combination of IoT technology, the option to have this installed when ordering the vehicle, and extensive promotion by certain insurers as a premium-reducing differentiator will help make this a reality. The benefits will include greater driver awareness, improved road behavior, and an ability to accurately reward and penalize individuals based on actual driving patterns. Meanwhile the European Commission wants to create a fully functional “in case of emergency” eCall service, which will automatically report a traffic accident and its location to an emergency hotline.

6) Trophy hacks

audi bobby piloted driving trackCertain auto brands are known for their performance, luxury, reliability, ruggedness and other qualities. There is potential for a parallel universe where a brand hacking hierarchy affords recognition for successfully breaking a particular manufacturer’s system. Tesla has already been rumored in some circles as the ultimate hack, given the company’s software roots and advanced connected car reputation. There are various types of hacking scenarios, each with significant potential for misuse:  from adjusting the vehicle’s mileage to revising recorded driving patterns if the insured has a UBI policy to lower premiums. Manufacturers will need to be ever vigilant in this area and potentially hire ethical hackers who can anticipate how and where a system may be compromised.

7) Operating system version as important as distance driven

Auto mileage is likely to stay relevant in a purchase decision. But the installed operating system, backward compatibility, network safety, and the availability of other add on services like app download speeds, connectivity, and a social community built around the car and driver personas could all become important factors while choosing a car in the very near future.

8) Data-driven automobile development

Decisions around investment in future vehicle form and function can be made with much higher levels of information than ever before. How and when the car is driven, how often and by which age group has the potential to be captured and analysed by manufacturers, especially if there is a UBI option taken up. Customer configurations can be reviewed, as can features for popularity, usability and so forth. Just as apps are developed, released and their performance fed back to continuously improve them, so future models can be enhanced based on actual customer interactions, rather than comments made by research focus groups, or telephone surveys.

The cruise control is not on yet – but the destination is confirmed

By 2020, the driving experience itself will have evolved to be far more informed, predictable, safer, and richer. Automobile manufacturers and dealers can look forward to vastly increased insight into driver behaviours, preferences, and more frequent engagement whether via apps or in person contact. The overall trajectory of the connected car may be debatable but it is here to stay, even if some parts of the world and certain drivers are adopting the concept faster than others.

Justin Vaughan-Brown is global transformation lead at CA Technologies

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