Weekly Brief: Wireless Providers Ramp up Focus on Connected Aftermarket

Weekly Brief: Wireless Providers Ramp up Focus on Connected Aftermarket

In this week’s Brief: AT&T, Mojio, Telefónica, CarIT Congress, Zubie, Pioneer, Paris Motor Show, Honda, Audi, Eloktrobit, Nuance, Garmin, Continental, TomTom, Bosch and Daimler.

Will wireless providers prove the aftermarket’s salvation?

Two weeks ago it was AT&T launching an aftermarket infotainment device in North America with the help of Mojio. Last week another wireless giant, Telefónica, followed suit in Germany at CarIT Congress, where it unveiled “O2 Car Connection.” The device is powered by telematics upstart Zubie and plugs into the on-board diagnostic port, from where it connects with the driver’s smartphone and sends regular diagnostic updates about the condition of the car. The app also offers recommended improvements to driving habits and routes based upon data from the car.

None of this will reverse the trend of OEMs preferring to embed telematics and infotainment solutions in their new cars — connectivity has become a selling point after all — but it proves that the desire to bring connectivity to earlier generation cars remains appealing. Whether there’s an appetite on the consumer end to meet that appeal remains to be seen. O2 Car Connection is available as of October 1, 2014 for €149 with service costs running €5 per month after the first year.

"More than 75 percent of people in Germany won't leave home without their mobile phones, and the car is one of the German consumer's favorite and most important possessions," says Peter Rampling, managing director of B2C at Telefónica in Germany. "O2 Car Connection brings those two trends together: You are connected with your car at anytime, anywhere via your smartphone."

Continuing with the aftermarket, Pioneer announced a rearview mirror telematics unit equipped with an LTE communication hub, which serves as a Wi-Fi hotspot for other devices in the car and a real-time information delivery mechanism to the telematics unit. A five-inch capacitive touch panel overlays half the rear-view-mirror and displays real-time information like weather, traffic, local points of interest and navigation, all of which the driver can control by voice. Expect to see the device on the Japanese market in 2015, with pricing to be announced upon release.

At the Paris Motor Show, Honda showed off its all-new Honda Connect in-car audio and information system, which will debut on the 2015 Civic range. Key features include DAB and internet radio, Bluetooth connectivity, internet browsing, satellite navigation and a rear-view parking camera. The system runs Android 4.0.4 and features the familiar pinch, swipe and tap functionality of a smartphone on a seven inch display screen.

Also at the Paris Motor Show Audi displayed its new virtual cockpit, a fully digital instrument cluster, in a street-ready car, the new Audi TT Roadster. Audi first announced the concept of the virtual cockpit in January 2014 at CES in Las Vegas but only displayed a mock-up at the time. The cockpit as it will ship to consumers in the new TT features a classic view — RPM, fuel, speed, etc. — as well as an infotainment view that offers everything from the weather to turn-by-turn navigation. Intuitive voice commands come courtesy of Eloktrobit and Nuance.

Honda was in the news outside of Paris as well when it selected Garmin as the navigation provider for future Civic and CR-V models in Europe, Russia and South America. Garmin’s navigation will offer preloaded maps, points of interest, spoken turn-by-turn directions, lane guidance, predictive routes, real-time traffic avoidance, speed limit display, 3D buildings, terrain views. The list goes on. Expect the Garmin unit to debut in 2015.

Continental offered a solution to the question of where smartphones should live in cars, especially those cars that use those smartphones to power their connectivity. The answer? A trim box in the center console, where the smartphone can wirelessly charge while wireless antenna coupling and near field communication deliver the phone’s apps and connected services straight to the dashboard. Nary a cable connecting the phone is required. Continental says a modular design will allow automakers the choice as to which features make it into their models.

Finally TomTom announced a partnership with Bosch to integrate its navigation technology and maps into Bosch’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Bosch plans to use TomTom technology to develop more advanced applications including intelligent cruise control, upcoming curve alerts, and jam tail warnings.

The Dutch navigation co followed that news with word of a new deal with Daimler to provide TomTom’s full navigation system in the Smart range. The deal takes effect immediately, with TomTom navigation products to be featured in the Smart range starting in Europe in 2014, with the US and China to follow in 2015.


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

Charlotte Wright is a regular TU contributor.



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