Weekly Brief: All the news from Geneva

Weekly Brief: All the news from Geneva

In this week’s Brief: Geneva Motor Show, Apple, International Consumer Electronics Show, Google, Honda, Volvo, Mercedes, Ferrari, BMW, Ford, GM, Toyota, Nissan, Qoros, China Pacific Insurance Group, Renault, TomTom, Micello, Kia, Rolls-Royce and Harman.

Punch. Counterpunch.

That was the story at last week’s Geneva Motor Show, where Apple debuted its new CarPlay app-integration technology that allows users to display iPhone apps on their in-car infotainment screens. Industry pundits have awaited CarPlay ever since this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where Google announced the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA) and launched the associated Android platform for cars.

CarPlay works with the iPhone 5, 5s and 5c and provides access to a wide range of apps, including Internet radio, navigation and audiobooks. To assuage safety critics, the MirrorLink-like integration heavily features the voice assistant Siri, which can help drivers access contacts, make calls, return missed calls or listen to voicemails. Honda, Volvo, Mercedes and Ferrari all demoed CarPlay in Geneva, and scores of other carmakers have already lined up to integrate it in 2014, including BMWFordGMToyota and Nissan.

In other news, a number of carmakers showed off cars with cool connectivity features, starting with Mercedes, whose new S-Class Coupe features a head-up display that projects important information onto the windshield and a touchpad on the center console to control navigation, media, phone and radio. The car also features a number of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), from automatic braking to assisted steering and partially autonomous driving.

Qoros unveiled its new Qoros 3 Hatch vehicle for the Chinese market, which features an umbrella of 30 connected services that can be accessed in-dash or on a smartphone or tablet under the QorosQloud platform (the platform is Cloud-based, in case you missed the clever C/Q interchange). The car also offers emergency services and roadside assistance via a partnership with China Pacific Insurance Group, with QorosQloud sending an automatic notification to emergency responders in the case of a crash.

Renault debuted its new Twingo vehicle with an R & GO application that automatically syncs smartphones with the in-dash radio. It also includes the R-Link multimedia system, which Renault continues to advertise as a multimedia “tablet” even though it isn’t removable from the dashboard. It does offer a solid touchscreen display, however, with steering wheel-mounted controls and speech recognition, as well as connected navigation from TomTom.

Speaking of TomTom, let’s take a brief break from connected cars and head over to navigation, where the Dutch navigation leader added standardized indoor mapping functionality to its mapping products through a new partnership with Micello. Business customers that use TomTom maps will now be able to integrate step-by-step pedestrian guidance through a wide variety of indoor venues, including shopping malls, airports and retails stores.

Kia, meanwhile, introduced a new electric vehicle, The Kia Soul EV, whose audio-visual navigation is built largely around the premise of minimizing range anxiety. The system includes your standard A to B, turn-by-turn directions, but it also illuminates full details on the car’s energy consumption, a charging station search function and a navigation system which displays the vehicle’s total driveable range. The car will be commercially available from July.

Rolls-Royce launched the Ghost Series II with an innovative technology to select the best gear for driving by anticipating the road ahead. “Satellite Aided Transmission” harnesses GPS data so the car can size up its route, then relays that data to the car’s gearbox, which in turn selects the best gear to maximize power and efficiency of the car’s 6.6-liter twin-turbo engine. Satellite Aided Transmission is a standard feature on the Ghost Series II.

On the over-the-air update front, Harman unveiled its “Aha Updates” service, which allows carmakers and drivers to upgrade in-car audio and infotainment systems and connect to Cloud-based content more easily, thereby helping to extend vehicles’ lifespan (or at least keep their connected services current). Harman also released “Aha Analytics,” which aggregates and analyzes information collected through opt-in data shared from a car’s infotainment and on-board diagnostics to help with stolen vehicle recovery, remote vehicle diagnostics monitoring and location services.

Finally, remember the good old days when people used to drive their cars to drive-in movie theaters? Well, what if the car itself were to become the drive-in cinema, with 32-inch drop-down screens that cover the windshield and transform the vehicle into the ultimate cinematic experience? The car of course would need to be self-driving, notes Harman, which rolled the “XchangE” concept car onto the exhibition floor in Geneva, replete with lounge-type seating reminiscent of business class air travel, a next-generation infotainment system with anti-hacker safeware and, yes, drop-down screens for your movie-going pleasure.

“As trends toward even greater connectivity gather pace, powerful infotainment solutions that can connect the car with the outside world will become more important than ever,” said Sachin Lawande, president of Harman’s infotainment division. “Harman is right at the front of these developments.”

The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.

Andrew Tolve is a regular TU contributor.

For all the latest telematics trends, check out Telematics for Fleet Management Europe 2014 on March 12-13 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Content and Apps for Automotive Europe 2014 on April 8-9 in Munich, Germany, Insurance Telematics Europe 2014 on May 6-7 in London, Telematics India and South Asia 2014 on May 28-29 in Bangalore, India, Insurance Telematics Canada 2014 on May 28-29 in Toronto, Telematics Detroit 2014 on June 4-5 in Novi, Michigan, Advanced Automotive Safety USA 2014 on July 8-9 in Novi, Michigan, and Telematics Munich 2014 on Nov. 10-11 in Munich, Germany.

For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports: Telematics Connectivity Strategies Report 2013The Automotive HMI Report 2013Insurance Telematics Report 2013 and Fleet & Asset Management Report 2012.

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