Weekly Brief: Geneva Motor Show and Mobile World Congress deliver big on connected car

In this week’s Brief: Mobile World Congress 2015, Geneva Motor Show, Visa, Accenture, Pizza Hut, Alcatel-Lucent, Summit Tech, Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, NXP, Freescale Semiconductor, GM, Delphi Automotive, AT&T, Airbiquity, Audi of America, AetherPal, Shanghai OnStar, China Mobile, Huawei CarFi, SEAT, Samsung, INRIX, BMW, The Renault-Nissan Alliance, Qualcomm, Opel, OnStar, Harman, Navman Wireless, Teletrac, Uber, deCarta, TomTom, Kia Motors Europe, Hyundai Motor Europe, and Fiat/Chrysler.


It was a monster week for the connected car, as the mobile industry converged on Barcelona for Mobile World Congress 2015 and the auto industry converged on Geneva for the Geneva Motor Show. Given the intermingling of the two industries these days, both industries crashed each other’s parties.

So much news emerged on the connected car front as a result that it nearly short-circuited our weekly brief server. We’re back functioning again, but consider yourself forewarned with a disclaimer: MORE NEWS THAN USUAL SURFACED LAST WEEK. IF THAT FRIGHTENS YOU, PUT DOWN THE BRIEF NOW.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, catch your breath and away we go:

Mobile payments were one of the hottest topics in Barcelona, and the connected car got in on the action. Visa debuted a connected car commerce initiative in conjunction with Accenture. A demo vehicle was able to connect with Pizza Hut, place an order, and pay for it, all from the dashboard.

Alcatel-Lucent meanwhile partnered up with Summit Tech to debut a similar concept, with a car harnessing voice-over LTE to connect drivers via Android phones with drive-thru attendants at Taco Bell or Jack in the Box. The dash then displays a summary of the order and an invoice for payment.

NXP and Freescale Semiconductor made headlines with news of a $40-billion merger. Ergo: a new semiconductor king has been crowned. NXP was on the exhibition floor in Barcelona demoing a suit of solutions, including a vehicle-to-everything (V2X) RoadLink chipset that’s set to debut in GM cars come 2017 (on a Delphi Automotive platform).

AT&T was all over the news tracker with word that its smart car platform, AT&T Drive, has embraced the smart home and can now sync up with the AT&T home security and automation service, controlling everything from temp in the house to lights to garage doors.

AT&T announced that it will use Airbiquity’s Choreo cloud-based services delivery platform to manage device registration and management amongst aftermarket end users of AT&T Drive.

AT&T also partnered up with Audi of America to deliver 3G and 4G LTE coverage to all Audi 2016 cars that come with Audi Connect.

AT&T also confirmed it has partnered with AetherPal to provide in-vehicle remote support solutions that allow AT&T customer care reps to securely and remotely take control over a car’s infotainment system to resolve issues in real-time.

Shanghai OnStar said it will join forces with China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless telecom carrier, for the launch of 4G LTE telematics service across China. The new service will debut in a Cadillac model from Shanghai GM this year, making Shanghai GM the first automaker to offer embedded 4G LTE telematics service in its vehicles in China.

In aftermarket news, a company called Huawei CarFi debuted a WiFi hotspot product for cars that plugs into a cigarette lighter and delivers download speeds of up to 150 Mbps and connectivity for up to 10 devices. CarFi showed the solution off in 400 branded cars at MWC to demonstrate its broad compatibility with cars on the road today.

Spanish carmaker SEAT announced a partnership with Samsung to jointly develop apps for Samsung users optimized for SEAT cars. The apps will function via MirrorLink in all 75 markets in which SEAT is active.

INRIX announced that its partnership with Samsung will extend to the new Samsung S6 and S6 Edge. Users of both phones will have access to INRIX’s Car Mode app, which utilizes voice controls for a safer interface and provides real-time traffic updates, maps, navigation and nearby points of interest.

BMW launched the “Vehicular Small Cell” research project, which explores how to use femtocells (mini cellular base stations typically used to provide improved indoor cellular connectivity in businesses or private homes) for mobile in-car application. The “Vehicular Small Cell” provides optimal access to cellular networks via the vehicle aerial while reducing electromagnetic radiation inside the vehicle.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance announced by way of its CEO Carlos Ghosn that both automakers will deliver cars with self-driving capabilities to market in 2016. Don’t expect anything fully comprehensive, but the cars will drive themselves in traffic at slow speeds.

Finally Qualcomm unveiled the Qualcomm Snapdragon X12 LTE modem (9×40), which is designed to enable auto manufacturers to develop next-generation systems with advanced telematics and connected infotainment features while supporting greater coverage at faster download speeds.

Still breathing?

Onto Geneva then, where Opel captured headlines of news that it will deploy free OnStar services under the name Opel OnStar to cars in 13 markets across Europe in 2015. The usual suite of assistance, from crash response to stolen vehicle assistance to vehicle diagnostics, comes with the service for life. The free part only lasts 12 months.

Harman showed off new road noise cancellation technology that insulates the cabin for better music and general acoustics. It also premiered in Europe Aha Cloud Services, which allows carmakers to safely and cost-effectively update a variety of a vehicle’s software-driven applications and connected devices wirelessly.

Audi debuted its new Audi Q7 e-tron quattro, a diesel plug-in hybrid equipped with a fancy infotainment system that displays electric consumption and range stats alongside power meters, energy flow, and charge levels. LTE internet access is available, as is a tablet for keeping the little ones (or big ones) entertained in the back.

Getting closer …

Outside of Geneva, there was big news on the fleet front, where Navman Wireless and Teletrac, two of the leaders in the GPS fleet and asset tracking space, merged to create one of the world's largest global telematics organizations. The combined company will be run by an executive management team selected from both Teletrac and Navman Wireless, with the company continuing to operate under both the Navman Wireless and Teletrac brands and fully supporting all current customers and platforms.

Meanwhile Uber announced it had purchased location-based map expert deCarta for an undisclosed sum. Uber says it will integrate deCarta’s mapping, navigation and local search features to continue to differentiate the mapping component of its app.

Finally, TomTom kept its run of impressive client acquisitions going, penning new deals to integrate its connected TomTom LIVE services with Kia Motors Europe and Hyundai Motor Europe. TomTom also landed Fiat/Chrysler and will roll out maps and navigation software for the carmaker in Latin America throughout 2015.

That’s it. You can exhale at last.

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.

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