Green light for eCall a telematics game-changer?

The European Parliament has voted for an EU-wide emergency alert system to help emergency services get to road accidents faster.

Car manufacturers will have to install the system as standard on all cars and light vans from 31 March 2018.

Using telematics, the eCall device will alert rescue services automatically by calling the existing 112 emergency number.

While initially only basic data will be transmitted when an accident occurs, the move opens up a far wider reaching scenario predicted by TU Automotive on the run up last year’s precursor of Telematics Berlin 2015.

Our show preview discussed these opportunities stating: “OEMS, tier 1s and app developers are now seeing the urgency in exploring content opportunity on the eCall platform, with some infotainment professionals feeling grateful that the European Commission has mandated the initiative.

“Excitement stems from eCalls ability to allow easy integration of third-party services that are attractive to consumers. These include connected navigation, remote vehicle control and remote diagnostics which can be integrated in a cost-effective manner. How much of an impact eCall can make within the infotainment space, in addition to its primary function, will be debated at the Conference.”

Andy Rooke, senior project manager at ERTICO was onne of the speakers, sitting on the panel, eCall: An Alternative Platform to Deliver Value-Added Services. He commented: "The continued progress of the eCall legislation is now providing a clear route for the automotive industry to grasp the potential opportunities offered by the mandation of Pan-European eCall. However, there is a clear need for the industry to be innovative in its approach to both satisfy the legal requirements of eCall and to offer services to their customers that will ensure long-lasting and meaningful customer retention and brand loyalty."

However, following extensive negotiations between MEPs and European governments it has agreed that for the moment eCall would provide only data including:

·         type of vehicle;

·         fuel used;

·         time of accident;

·         location.

The European Commission says installation of the device is likely to add about £72 to the cost of a new car.

Welcoming the move the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) said

European car manufacturers are committed to improving safety outcomes and the rollout of eCall is just one of many developments designed to reduce road-related casualties.
“This decision brings Europe one step closer to making operational a system which we have been advocating since 2004,” said Mr Erik Jonnaert, ACEA Secretary General.
“Vehicle manufacturers are committed to protecting their customers’ privacy. However, at the end of the day, we cannot forget that the primary purpose of eCall is safety. The industry feels that the final text strikes a good balance between saving lives and protecting data.”

But opposition to the technology and its implementation is likely to continue with Jan Philipp Albrecht from the Greens saying it should not be mandatory.

"The consequence of being connected all the time means that we are also subject to more possibilities to track us," he told the BBC.

"We reduced the data being processed to a very minimum but,nonetheless, it is technically possible for companies, or for an authority, to track your position and to even surveil you. So I don't think this should be obliged to everybody. Everybody should have the chance to opt out."

The UK government also objects to the plans. UK transport minister Claire Perry said: "The benefit of making eCall mandatory in all new cars does not justify the cost of implementing it. We do not support the measure, because it is not cost-effective for us."

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