Tough tech a must for connected cars

Digital technology has to prove it is every bit as robust as any other automotive product if the connected car has a long term future.

That’s the opinion of Erik Brenneis, Vodafone’s global director of IoT speaking at a press briefing in London outlining the telecoms giant’s 2016 IoT Barometer.

And he said the company’s business strategy reflects this conviction. He told TU-Automotive: “Two years ago we acquired a company called Cobra who manufacture telematics boxes to go inside cars. Also they have written the software system that allows remote control of the cars’ function via a smartphone. The software also sends vehicle data to control centres and this allows tracking in the event of theft and service data of monitored vehicle condition and also emergency call up in the event of a crash.”

Vodafone’s fourth annual IoT Barometer Report was conducted by Circle Research in April and May 2016 and involved more than 1,096 companies across Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, the UAE, the UK and the US.

The report found that:

·         89% of companies investing in IoT have increased their budgets over the last 12 months;

·         76% of all companies interviewed believe that taking advantage of IoT technologies will be critical for the future success of any organisation;

·         63% of IoT adopters are seeing "significant" returns on investment, up from 59% in last year's Report; and

·         IoT investment now accounts for 24% of the average IT budget, on a par with cloud computing or data analytics.

It also reveals that IoT technologies play a key role in mainstream business activities in an increasing number of companies. Highlights included:

·         48% of companies interviewed are using IoT technologies to support large-scale business transformation, rising to 61% in the Asia-Pacific region;

·         52% of consumer electronics companies interviewed are using IoT technologies as the basis for a new generation of applications for connected homes; and

·         46% of all companies interviewed said they intend to develop new IoT-based products and services over the next two years.

Brenneis said: "Three-quarters of the companies we interviewed now recognise that the Internet of Things is a new industrial revolution that will change how people work and live forever, and almost half the companies surveyed across multiple countries and sectors told us they're already planning to bring connected network intelligence to millions of devices and processes over the next two years. 2016 is the year the Internet of Things entered the mainstream."

At the Soho Hotel press briefing Brenneissaid one of the biggest advantages of acquiring Cobra was that Vodafone can now offer a complete package to carmakers who may not want to, or have the resources to handle, the complex technology needed by the modern connected vehicle.

He explained: “Now we are able to offer an end-to-end telematics solution to automakers and we have built security around this system. We have built security across the whole chain in which we put authentication mechanisms in the hardware. These are also implemented within the network on the software side in our secure data centres.

“This protects our system from the sort of hacks we’ve already seen where there is an open connection between the embedded SIM card and the outside world. These hacks are just not possible with our system.”

Brenneis also highlighted that his company’s offering has the flexibility to provide solutions for both large volume carmakers and smaller niche specialist manufacturers.

He said: “By combining the hardware and the software together, we can make sure these work together in an optimal way and reduces the down time. Our approach by putting the hardware and software together we can offer this to car manufacturers either simply as a network service to go into their own hardware, such as small premium British brands, or as a single integrated system as with Porsche whose cars are equipped with our end-to-end offering.”

The briefing also considered the possibilities of growth of UBI across the insurance providers of Europe. Tony Guerion, Vodafone’s head of IoT southern Europe and Middle East used the illustration of the company’s tie-up with Italian scooter manufacturer Piaggio and its new all-electric eScooter which has onboard telematics.

When quizzed by TU-Automotive, Guerion said: “What we see is that all the insurance companies across Europe are looking for ways to differentiate their business and one way of doing this is being able to offer different services through UBI.

“I can tell you that we are talking with four insurance companies in Spain and all of them are interested in growing their UBI offering in a bid to catch up with what’s happened in Italy. Similarly, in the UK we are talking to at least five companies all looking to do the same.”


“I believe that within 10 years almost every car insurance policy will be usage-based. That’s because there are so many benefits on offer. There will be a tipping point where people will say ‘I don’t want to pay a higher premium than those using UBI’. So the more people who do that, the tariffs for those who do not have UBI will become less attractive as all the ‘safe’ drivers adopt the technology leaving the high-risk drivers without it.

“Also the cost of the technology is falling all the time and this will help the wider adoption of UBI.”

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