Weekly Brief: eCall freedom of choice

Weekly Brief: eCall freedom of choice

In this week’s Brief: FIA, CLEPA, CECRA, Insurance Europe, European Commission, European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, mbrace, Airmotion, Center for Study of Insurance Operations, U.S. Department of Transportation, BMW and the AVnu Alliance.

In the latest twist of the European eCall saga, a group of auto industry associations last week demanded that automakers be able to openly select their in-car telematics providers and specific telematics units and services during eCall implementation. The group, which includes Insurance Europe, FIA, CLEPA andCECRA, said that eCall will deliver important safety and service improvements but needs to be rolled out in a way that ensures equal access and freedom of choice.

eCall is a European initiative that would require all new cars to be equipped with telematics devices that automatically call 112 in the event of a serious accident. The initiative has been in the works, yet mired in delays, for more than a decade. Rollout is now set for 2015, although the auto industry’s latest demands suggest that there is still plenty to be ironed out between now and then.

“The undersigned associations call upon European and national legislators to provide E.U. regulation that maintains equal opportunities and a level playing field by mandating an interoperable, secure, standardized and open-access platform for eCall and by proposing concrete provisions on how to implement this,” the associations said in a position paper.

There has been no response yet from the European Commission or from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, which represents many of the big European auto OEMs.

In other news, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced increased investment in EV charging infrastructure in Germany. Musk said that, by the end of March 2014, more than 50% of Germany will be covered by Tesla's Supercharger network, with 100% of the country covered by the middle of the year. That would give Germany more Superchargers per capita than any other country. Musk also suggested that Tesla will soon upgrade the infotainment system in the Model S to allow third-party apps. Tesla has been hinting at third-party apps since 2011, but Musk now says it will be a reality by the end of 2014.

Mercedes-Benz launched a new telematics system for the Chinese market. Similar to the Mercedes-Benz mbrace system in the United States, Mercedes-Benz Connect in China provides infotainment and safety features, a concierge service for POIs, advanced driver-vehicle interaction with a call center and a mobile app and web portal that allow users to send information between their cars and connected devices. Mercedes-Benz Connect is now available on new E- and S-Class models, and it will be free for the first three years of new car ownership in China.

In infotainment, a new app offers news for in-vehicle environment in the form of text-to-speech audio messages. The Airmotion News on Board app categorizes news by top news, politics, business, sports and entertainment, works in 30 languages and uses feeds from 20 worldwide news agencies. The app can be modified to suit individual requirements from vehicle manufacturers and is available now as an Android version, with an iOS version scheduled for release in November.

In insurance telematics, Canada’s Center for Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO) announced a telematics data standard for the insurance industry to be released in January 2014. The CSIO telematics standard will provide a secure way of transmitting telematics information between multiple business partners, enabling data quality and consistency across the industry. It will be interesting to see if other national standards associations for insurers follow Canada’s lead.

Finally, two items about interoperability:

First, the U.S. Department of Transportation will host a webinar on Oct. 29, 2013 about standards and tests for secure connected vehicle environments. The webinar is free and open to anyone, with developers, equipment manufacturers and government agencies all encouraged to provide their ideas for designing and testing connected vehicle devices and system interoperability. For more information about the webinar, follow this link.

Second, BMW became the latest auto OEM to join the AVnu Alliance, an industry consortium that aims to create a set of standards and certification procedures around Ethernet-based communication and Audio Video Bridging (AVB) technology. AVB allows multiple in-vehicle systems to simultaneously access information over a single network, thus ensuring that all components of the in-car network – from infotainment to advanced drivers assistance to autonomous driving – work seamlessly together. With the addition of BMW, AVnu alliance membership now stands at 65.

“Introducing Ethernet-based communication is a key to a reliable and powerful in-car networking, on which innovations can be built," said Alexander Maier, director of E/E architectures and semiconductor standards, BMW Group. "BMW is excited about the opportunities the membership in the AVnu Alliance brings in respect to standardized quality-of-service Ethernet, which will allow us to further enhance the safety and infotainment functionalities in our vehicles."

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 Telematics Munich 2013 on Nov. 11-12 in Munich, Germany, Telematics for Fleet Management USA 2013 on Nov. 20-21 in Atlanta, Georgia, Content and Apps for Automotive USA 2013 on Dec. 11-12 in San Francisco, Consumer Telematics Show 2014 on Jan. 6 in Las Vegas, Telematics for Fleet Management Europe 2014 on March 12-13 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Content and Apps for Automotive Europe 2014 on April 8-9 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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