Europe News: Automotive eCall progress hindered by conflicting agendas

Europe News:  Automotive eCall progress hindered by conflicting agendas

According to Strategy Analytics, the adoption of eCall across Europe, and the potential for infotainment services leveraged from it, continues to be held back by contradictory objectives of the regulators versus those of automotive and wireless companies.

To minimise implementation costs, the adoption of a standardised, low cost, scaleable telematics unit needs to be agreed.

Yet to open the doors to potential revenue streams, the system also needs to be flexible and able support growth in infotainment services.

A workable compromise to develop a system specification that addresses the needs of all parties within the value chain will be a major challenge if the European Commission is to achieve its 2010 mandatory eCall roll out objective.

The eCall plan still faces a lack of commitment from EU countries and automotive OEMs.

Italy has done little to actually support or help develop the system, despite being the first to sign the MoU; The UK is reluctant to commit following a negative reaction to the proposed road pricing scheme; and France is pushing for a system based on an existing service offered by PSA Peugeot Citroën.

However, Germany, seen as an opinion influencer, signed the MoU this week, along with Austria, which may act as a catalyst for other outstanding signatories.

The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) was an early eCall supporter, signing the MoU in 2004, but it will not offer any further support until all member states have committed.

All in all, twelve countries have signed the MoU: Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Lithuania, Slovenia, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and now Germany and Austria.

Once launched, an eCall service will have a significant impact on the European telematics market, helping to create a telematics install base of six million users by 2012, generating more than €1 billion in service revenues.

"European cellular operators have done the bare minimum necessary to comply with the EC's plans, because a pan-European eCall service offers them little in the way of revenue potential," says Strategy Analytics’ Clare Hughes, adding that while the system needs to be standardised and low-cost to enable it to be implemented quickly, it also needs to be flexible so that telematics service revenue can be generated in the long-term.

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