Weekly Brief: Brazil and U.S. push back mandates

In this week’s Brief: AT&T, Georgia Tech, Cisco, the Brazilian government, Contran 245, OnStar Mexico, GM, Tesco Bank, Microsoft, Audiovox, Continental, Harman, LG Automotive, Nokia HERE, Bing Maps, Google Maps, NHTSA and TomTom Business Solutions.

From the dot-com boom to Web 2.0, Silicon Valley has emerged as the epicenter of Internet ingenuity. It’s no surprise then that auto OEMs and Internet companies committed to the connected car have innovation centers in the Valley.

But the connected car remains far broader than a Silicon Valley phenomenon. To that end, AT&T this week launched two new innovation centers targeting the connected car, neither of them in California. The first is adjacent to Georgia Tech in Atlanta, where the AT&T Foundry team will create new apps and services related to the connected car, mobility and emerging devicesin tandem with host sponsor Cisco and the Georgia Tech community. 


The second is in Dallas-Fort Worth, where AT&T will focus on M2M solutions and the Internet of Things.

"Whether you want to check your thermostat from the road, make the drive home a little more enjoyable or have devices conveniently handle routine things from your day, the AT&T Foundry delivers these types of innovations," says Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility.

In BRIC news, the Brazilian government announced a new deadline for the much-delayed implementation of Contran 245. Come the start of 2014, 20% of all new cars, vans, trucks and utility vehicles produced for the Brazilian market must be equipped with a tracking module aimed at deterring car theft. In mid 2014, that number jumps to 50%. And total implementation is expected as of Dec. 31 of next year. Keep in mind, however, that, like eCall in Europe, Contran 245 has already been delayed numerous times, and there’s nothing to say that it won’t be delayed again.

Similarly, NHTSA postponed its decision on mandated reversing cameras in vehicles, a law that U.S. Congress introduced in 2007. NHTSA says it will make the final call on the law in 2015.

Car companies have lobbied against the law on the grounds of excessive cost, whereas legislators continue to tout the safety benefits. Either way, car companies have until at least 2017 before any sort of mandates are likely to take effect.

In Mexico, OnStar went live with its first services for the Mexican market. OnStar Mexico will start as a one-year complimentary service on two GM brands—Chevy Cheyenne and GMC Sierra pickups—and will expand across the full spectrum of GM brands in 2014.

Features include the standard OnStar mix, from automatic crash response to turn-by-turn navigation and remote services.

On the insurance telematics front, Tesco Bank launched Tesco Bank Box Insurance in the U.K. The black-box solution tracks performance against six factors—speed, braking, time of day, distance, type of road and breaks taken—and specifically targets young drivers, encouraging safe driving in exchange for financial savings.

The information the black box collects is available to policy holders via their own personal web-portals and is also used to determine the renewal premium.

Microsoft, meanwhile, announced patent licensing agreements with automotive technology companies Audiovox, Continental, Harman and LG Automotive.

Microsoft didn’t reveal any specifics about the patents themselves, but it plans to use the various patents for its Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) file system, which facilitates the transportation of media between devices and automobiles—specifically, music, pictures, videos and maps for navigation systems, and USB-based storage devices.

In GPS navigation news, the race for indoor mapping first-to-market rights continues to heat up as Nokia HERE came out with a statement claiming 49,000 buildings mapped in nearly 50 countries around the world.

The company predicts that it will add 1,000 new venues to its indoor map database every three months, which has already landed it ahead of Google Maps. Bing Maps, meanwhile, uses Nokia data, so it’s included in the 49,000 figure.

Finally, TomTom Business Solutions launched a new partner program to help integrate TomTom’s fleet management solution, WEBFLEET, into other complementary business solutions. The .connect Partner Program will provide technology suppliers of business applications, such as CRM, ERP and planning and scheduling software, with development support and resources to create integrations with the WEBFLEET platform.

The apps, TomTom believes, can make use of the real-time and historical information from the vehicle and mobile workforce to offer greater value to the end user.
"TomTom's .connect Partner Programme is the first of its kind in the industry, allowing customers to unlock greater potential from the connected vehicle through convergence with other business solutions," says Thomas Schmidt, TomTom Business Solutions' managing director.

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 contributor to TU.

For all the latest telematics trends, check out V2V & V2I for Auto Safety USA 2013 on July 9-10 in Novi, MI, Insurance Telematics USA 2013 on September 4-5 in Chicago, Telematics Russia 2013 in September in Moscow, Telematics LATAM 2013 in September in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Telematics Japan 2013 on October 8-10 in Tokyo and Telematics Munich 2013 on November 11-12.

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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