Hughes Telematics, Inc.: “Performance-enhancing and safety-improving options are part of increasing the desirability of a brand”

Hughes Telematics, Inc.: “Performance-enhancing and safety-improving options are part of increasing the desirability of a brand”

What does your company do?

Hughes Telematics, Inc. (HTI) is a leader in implementing the next generation of connected services. Centered on a core platform of safety and security, HTI offers a portfolio of location-based services for consumers, manufacturers, fleets, and dealers through two-way wireless connectivity.

How do you differentiate your offerings from your competitors?

HTI believes that a robust, state-of-the-art, and flexible service delivery platform is the best way to deliver a comprehensive yet simple user experience with the desired level of personalization and contextual content. Our unique selling point is the significant investment we have made in the development of a world-class architecture focused on vehicle connectivity, including elements such as dedicated telematics platform architecture, next generation telematics architecture (NGTA), no legacy systems, no data migration limitations, and maximum OEM flexibility, among others.

2010 has so far been a year of recovery. What services or trends have been integral to this?

The automotive industry in general has been focused on minimizing costs and returning to profitability. Except for a few brands, all automotive OEMs selling in Europe experienced significant sales declines during 2009. Industry executives understand that cost cutting alone does not result in profitable operations. Buyers must want to purchase vehicles, and performance-enhancing, cost-reducing, and safety-improving options are all part of increasing the desirability of a brand.

Many telematics programs were either cancelled or delayed during the height of the economic crisis, and as vehicle sales have improved, these programs have been brought back to life. However, there has been an increasing focus on minimizing the cost of both the systems and the on-going operations of the service delivery platform. More attempts are being made to employ the driver’s own wireless device as a complement to, or substitute for, an embedded wireless modem.

What industry milestones have you recently achieved?

In November 2009, HTI and Mercedes-Benz USA launched a new telematics service called mbrace. HTI is currently in the process of transitioning customers of the previous Tele Aid service to the new Mercedes-Benz mbrace service operated exclusively by HTI. HTI has delivered the first mobile application integrated with an embedded telematics system (Mercedes-Benz mbrace).

HTI leverages its connectivity platform for its aftermarket, consumer-installed in-Drive system, and also announced in May the creation of Lifecomm, a new mobile personal emergency response system and service in a joint venture offering with Qualcomm and American Medical Alert Corporation. It is our goal during 2010 to deliver services to aftermarket systems in North America and Europe, and we expect OEM services to expand into new, emerging markets.

Which trends will impact the industry the most in the coming years and why?

Alternatives to petroleum-based fuels: Until the infrastructure for electric vehicles is built out to a similar level as that for petrol/diesel fuels, driver information systems will be critical. Car sharing: Re-urbanization (de-suburbanization) is a minor trend, but it is growing. Information systems for managing vehicle fleets will grow in importance, both for the fleet owners and the drivers.

Multi-modal/dual-modal: Personal mobility has too many advantages over collective transportation to simply disappear and be replaced by trains and buses. However, combining trips in cars and on collective transport systems will increase, and new methods for integrating personal mobility devices into the collective transportation network will emerge. Internal systems access: More information will be placed in the message set available via the OBDII (EOBD) port to aid in more environmentally responsible driving, both for personal and fleet management usage.

How integral is Telematics Munich to the European telematics market?

It is the single event that everyone in the European telematics industry must attend each year.

Which gadgets, gizmos, or cars are on your current wish list?

Pan-European eCall/bCall with 100% coverage from Iceland to the Ural Mountains (i.e., UMTS supplemented by satellite coverage), pan-European subscription radio (similar to XM/Sirius in North America), and fully connected navigation with pan-European dynamic information delivered using the TPEG protocol.

For more on drivers’s wireless devices versus embedded systems, see ‘What is the best way to deliver in-car telematics?’. Click here

To learn more about Telematics Munich, November 3-4, 2010, Munich Germany. Click here

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