Telematics – a hot topic in China

Telematics  –  a hot topic in China

GM OnStar and Toyota G-Book are due to launch telematics services in China next year. While both OEMs do just fine in auto manufacturing and sales, it's a different story when it comes to providing telematics services in China.

While the world is watching the two players' telematics move in China, BMW is launching NGTP – an open telematics protocol and telematics framework, which has aroused industry-wide interest.

Naviforum talked to BMW's Axel Möring, who leads the NGTP project for BMW, Connexis and WirelessCar.

NaviForum: Why does BMW take the initiative to launch NGTP? Will NGTP become a future trend for automakers to develop telematics?

Axel Möring: BMWConnectedDrive has more than ten years'experience in ten countries all over the world. The philosophy of BMW ConnectedDrive is to connect the driver with his car and the environment. We offer different telematics product bundles in different markets, e.g. BMW Assist, BMW Online and BMW TeleServices. Along with that, we have strong partnerships with global TSPs andglobal content providers, e.g. Google, AFP. The customer gets the serviceswhile travelling in foreign countries the same way as inhis home country.

While globalising the services during the past ten years, we have been faced with challenges to maintain our telematics technology leadership, such as:

  • Offering global solutions and local tailoring
  • Reducing the barriersto collaboration and implementation
  • Enabling adoption of new technologies as they come online
  • Developing leading-edge products in an increasingly fast and agile market
  • Supporting legacy systems for connectivity throughout the service life of a vehicle

Aparadigm shift was needed to move away from proprietary systems toa flexible platform. A new approach was required, therefore we collaborated with two strong industry players, Connexis and WirelessCar, to develop and prototype both a new telematics infrastructure and a new telematics protocol – NGTP.

The main requirements to NGTP were:

  • To separate the components of the telematics services delivery chain by using consistent and open interfaces
  • To make telematics service providers interchangeable
  • To have an open instead of a proprietary system

NGTP therefore enables a faster time-to-market for new telematics players and new services, and lowers the prices by allowing competition between the different providers in the telematics delivery chain. This is a significant change in the telematics business. Therefore we strongly believe that NGTP will become the future technology – not only for automakers but also for telematics, content and call centreproviders.

NF: Many international auto brands are popular in China, and more and more domestic domestic brands have attracted interest and acceptance from Chinese consumers. What does NGTP mean for Chinese automakers, e.g. SAIC and Chery?

AM: BMW has seen a huge interest in telematics services from the Chinese market, whichis quite special due to its geographical and cultural constraints. BMW loves to take up the challenges of the Chinesemarket, not only in terms of telematics services, because the Chinese people are great customers for BMW.

With the NGTP infrastructure, we could share the efforts in implementing telematics services in China. The USP to the customer has to be the quality of the service, less the infrastructure. BMW will deliver premium telematics services in China in the future. BMW believes in new strong partnerships in China with local companies that provide telematics services, content and call centres.

NF: Some international automakers such as Toyota, Nissan and GM, already have their own telematics solutions and protocols in their home countries, respectively G-Book, Carwings, and OnStar. What is the implication of NGTP for those OEMs? Will they be interested in NGTP or even adopt it?

AM: The issue with proprietary solutions is the inflexibilityto deal with changes anywhere within the telematics delivery chain. You have to bring new providersinto your proprietary solution all the time; you need to attach new servicesand / or countries.For the TSP, this means a wide range of parallel proprietary solutions for different OEMs or – even worse – an exclusiveone-to-onebonding to one particular OEM. For the OEM the main disadvantage is that he has to bring every new service which is required for the customersatisfaction in his proprietary solution software in the car.

Globalising telematics means globalising the hardware in the car and the infrastructure and the service provider. The global hardware is the responsibility of every single OEM, but globalising the telematics infrastructure could be a common effort between OEMs to maximise the results whilst minimising the effort. In addition, the advantage of NGTP is the ability to cover legacy fleets without losingfuture flexibility.

Axel Möring is senior engineering project manager for telematics business development at BMW, and leads the NGTP project for BMW, Connexis and WirelessCar.

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