Growth in the connected car market is accelerating. The latest predictions claim that revenue in the US alone could top $37 billion by 2023, while globally, some have valued it as a $219 billion opportunity by 2025. Whatever happens, it’s undeniable that modern automobiles are as much computers as they are vehicles. That’s why we’ve seen a growing number of deals over recent months between car OEMs and traditional IT and OT providers. The latest is a tie-up between Google and Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.
As yet another connected “thing”, our cars are set to become an extension of the emerging smart home. And that’s why the user interface will be key to success or failure as we go forward. In the smart home space we’ve seen a whole ecosystem of new connected things spring up to make people safer, happier and more entertained within the confines of their own four walls. The key gadget that has caught people’s imagination has been the smart speaker, now garnering sales in the millions of units. Those distributors that have managed to ink deals with Google, Amazon and Apple are already benefitting as their AI assistants get integrated into more and more products.
At the end of August, Amazon announced it had integrated Alexa into smart home sensors, bringing with it a whole new slew of functionality. Now you can ask Alexa if there are any doors open before setting your security alarm at night. Or program for the lights to come on if there’s movement in a room downstairs. This is the future of home automation and will open the floodgates on innovation in the space, and similar functionality can well be imagined inside the connected car.
Joining the dots
The average connected car today is said to contain more than 150 million lines of code, plenty of wireless connectivity and multiple on-board computer systems to provide everything from infotainment, monitoring of emissions, and even control of key functions like steering. We’re still some way off fully autonomous vehicles. But our cars are increasingly packed with technology designed to help with things like safety, navigation, predictive maintenance, entertainment and even in-car productivity.
Kal Mos, Global Vice President of Alliance Connected Vehicles at Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, was quick to zero in on the benefits of teaming up with Google.
“In the future, the Google Assistant, which employs Google’s leading AI technology, can become the main way customers interact with their vehicles, hands-free,” he said. “With Google Maps and the Google Assistant embedded in Alliance infotainment systems, our customers will have some of the most advanced AI-based applications at their fingertips. And with in-vehicle access to the Google Play Store, our customers will enjoy an open and secure ecosystem of Android apps engineered for vehicles.”
Increasingly we will live in a digital world where the connected car acts as an extension of the smart home and vice-versa. And the smart home will heavily influence the connected car space. The habits consumers are already learning at home will need to be embedded into their vehicles if OEMs want to drive success. That’s why, alongside the Google announcement, we’ve seen:
- BMW and Mini announce a tie-up with Amazon Alexa
- Bosch develop an in-vehicle assistant dubbed “Casey”
- Mercedes continue to develop its own in-car assistant tech as part of the MBUX system
It won’t all be plain sailing. A new study has revealed widespread gaps in awareness and even active hostility to the idea of autonomous cars. But change is coming. And it will bring with it new opportunities for the channel.