Weekly Brief—8.1.11

Weekly Brief—8.1.11

In this week’s Brief: State Farm, Hughes Telematics, INRIX, ITIS Holdings, Mercedes-Benz, ABI Research, TomTom, NAVTEQ, Autoradio, comScore Data Mine, General Motors, and OnStar.

 State Farm and Hughes Telematics announced In-Drive, a joint effort to bring connected vehicle services and telematics savings programs to drivers in North America. In-Drive provides an easy-to-install device that works in most vehicles made after 1995.

The device will offer State Farm policyholders a range of safety and diagnostics features, like one-touch emergency response, roadside assistance, stolen vehicle location assistance, and vehicle diagnostic alerts and maintenance reminders.

In addition, State Farm policyholders can partake in a new Drive Safe & Save program. In-Drive will provide driving performance data, and customers’ savings will be based on mileage, turns, acceleration, braking, speed, and the time of day a vehicle is operated.

The service debuts in Illinois in September 2011 with more states to be added in 2012. “This combined offering represents a first in our industry,” said Mike Wey, senior vice president, State Farm.

“It will provide drivers with a wide range of new options that will make for a smarter vehicle and even smarter driver.”

 INRIX offered to buy ITIS Holdings for approximately $60 million (£37 million). If the proposed acquisition is approved, INRIX would extend its global footprint into eight new markets including Australia, Brazil, South Africa, Singapore and Russia.

INRIX would also add 70 customers, including Nissan, Telefonica, Vodafone and O2, and would expand its role with existing customers including Toyota, TomTom and TeleNav. Pending approval by ITIS shareholders, the deal is expected to close in late August 2011.

 Mercedes-Benz expanded the range of integrated apps for the COMAND Online multimedia system.

The new apps include Facebook, Google Streetview, and Google Panoramio and will be available in autumn 2011; more apps are currently under development with Twitter and Pandora.

All customers who drive a Mercedes-Benz with COMAND Online will have access to the apps. Mercedes is also pursuing features like 3D on-screen presentations and voice control supported by gestures and touch.

 Connected navigation is the most popular and coveted in-car service, according to a connected car consumer survey conducted by ABI Research.

The survey engaged 1,500 respondents in the US, UK, France, Germany, Japan, and China. Respondents expressed more interest in connected navigation than in social media, emailing, and networking integration.

Internet Radio only showed average levels of interest among current non-infotainment users, even in the US where most major OEMs and aftermarket vendors are heavily focused on multimedia streaming.

 TomTom announced that despite decreased overall revenue in the second quarter of 2011, its base of active users of LIVE Services tripled year over year to 1.1 million. Sales to automotive OEMs also increased by 34 percent year over year to €60 million.

This increase was not enough to offset the 23 percent decrease in consumer revenue due to diminishing demand for PNDs.

 NAVTEQ signed an agreement with the Russian network radio station Autoradio to facilitate real-time traffic information distribution across Russia.

Autoradio will distribute NAVTEQ Traffic services via Radio Data System to nine major Russian markets.

Broadcast traffic reports will debut in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, with a phased rollout in other cities to follow.

NAVTEQ made traffic information available to connected devices in Russia via NAVTEQ Traffic Pro in December 2010.

Smartphone penetration reached 42 percent of UK mobile consumers compared to 27 percent a year ago, according to new research from comScore Data Mine. Apple controls the highest percentage of marketshare at 27.1 percent.

Google’s Android trails close behind at 26.7 percent and Symbian at 22.5 percent. Android has grown its user base by 634 percent in the past year.

General Motors and OnStar announced a pilot for a new smart grid solution. Through the OnStar Advanced Telematics Operations Management System (ATOMS), utilities will be able to accurately monitor and manage the energy that electric vehicles use.

The data will give the utility insight into where and when EVS are charged and demand response, which allows utilities to reduce peak demand by shifting EV charging to non-peak hours.

Starting this quarter, hundreds of employees of regional utilities will drive leased Chevrolet Volts as their everyday vehicles and participate in the pilot.

“In contrast to other OEMs who are only talking about smart grid technology, we’re moving beyond research and development projects to a program in the real world,” says Nick Pudar, OnStar vice president of planning and business development.

“Through this pilot we will see real-time results on how intelligent energy management can maximize EV charging efficiency and minimize the electric bill for EV drivers.”

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