BRICs: Wide open to telematics, part II

Cisco also found that 57% of consumers, globally, trust driverless cars – and even more so in emerging markets. According to the survey, 95% of Brazilians, 86% of Indians, and 70% of Chinese would ride in a driverless car. (Russians were slightly under the global average.)

"I think Cisco was quite surprised by that result that people were very happy to have autonomous vehicles," says Paul Gray, CEOof Cohda Wireless, a Cisco partner that designs and sells products for intelligent transportation systems. “It's a little contrary to the popular view.”

In the United States, preliminary results from the Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot in Ann Arbor, Michigan, are expected to be available in the first half of 2014. The project tests drivers' reactions to a variety of notifications and warnings about vehicles around them, as well as communications between cars and traffic signals. 

In Europe, the CAR 2 CAR Communication Consortium has committed to deploying some vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure by 2015.

Both initiatives are steps toward autonomous vehicles.

Still, the automotive industry needs to be careful when trying to use the U.S. and EU trials to predict V2V/V2I developments in the BRICs. 

"There is information that can be used, but there is a tendency of people to do their own trials," Gray says. That's partly because drivers may react differently in different countries and cultures. “You can't get that from someone else's trial," he says.

(For more on the Ann Arbor project, see Ann Arbor and the future of V2V/V2I, part I and Ann Arbor and the future of V2V/V2I, part II. For the latest on autonomous vehicles, see The autonomous car: The road to driverless driving.)

Connected car services

While consumers in Brazil, Russia, India and China represent an enthusiastic market for connected car services, vendors must craft individual approaches in each country, according to Andrew Hart, head of strategy and innovation at SBD. "The market drivers for telematics are unique in each one; so are the value chains," he says.

Brazil has a pending mandate for installing tracking hardware into vehicles in an attempt to stem rampant car theft. And OEMs are now trying to decide whether to bundle other infotainment services with the gear.

The Russian national government is also introducing a mandate, this one for emergency calls in response to high traffic casualty rates. Hart says another reason for the mandate might be to promote the use of its GLONASS satellite navigation system.

But, compared to Brazil, Russia has been far more prescriptive, according to Hart, in that it has created a single telematics service provider to support the emergency calls. "That is creating distortion in the market, and other players feel like they are being pushed out," he says.

Still, any time vehicle manufacturers are forced to install hardware in their cars, a great opportunity for vendors beckons.

Although India is a huge market, vehicle manufacturers are still three or four years away from rolling out connected-car services there, Hart says. "The Indian government has been having meetings with Russia to maybe expand the Russian GLONASS solution across India," Hart says.

While that could jumpstart a wide array of telematics services there, "in the short term, most telematics opportunity is focused on traffic information and trying to overcome the terrible congestion in their countries," Hart says.

The big story of China

China could be the big story. Avid consumer interest in technology combined with huge investment by the government in local auto makers has sent cash flowing into all sorts of wild services, according to Hart. "I have literally seen Angry Birds on the dashboard," he says. "But there's only so much money you can throw at something before you have to develop a business model.”

While vendors have tried and failed to find the killer business model for the Chinese market, Hart says that connected services are now being used to sell cars.

OEMs offer four to five years of prepaid services, effectively covering the ownership period of the original buyer, and hoping that, by the time that second owner comes around, someone will have found a business model that works.

(To read the first part of the series, see BRICs: Wide open to telematics, part I.)

Susan Kuchinskas is a regular contributor to TU.

For all the latest telematics trends, check out Telematics Brazil & LATAM 2013 on Sept. 11-12 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 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 2013The Automotive HMI Report 2013Insurance Telematics Report 2013 and Fleet & Asset Management Report 2012.

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