DiPP - Connected cars, the open road to safety and competitiveness
Connected and/or automated vehicles keep making the headlines: right or wrong, they are seen as the embodiment of smart mobility. Besides offering safer, more convenient and comfortable ways to move people and goods across Europe, they are also a prime tool for the competitiveness of the EU’s automotive and ICT industries.
Either way they carry a lot of disruption with them, whether on streets and roads or on business models.
- Steffen Nolte
Head of Economic and Legal Policy, EU Corporate Representation, Daimler AG
- Frank Schlehuber
Director Aftermarket, CLEPA
- Alberto Di Felice
Qualcomm and Automotive Lead for DIGITALEUROPE
- John Higgins
Director General at DIGITALEUROPE
1. The automotive ecosystem is highly complex: beyond the complexity inherent to technology, it involves governments as well as business since cars run mainly on public infrastructures. Simply put, the challenge of connected cars boils down to enabling information exchange intelligent enough to make driving safer, greener and more efficient. Basically, two types of connectivity are requited: direct communications for car safety, with no mobile network involved; network communication for value-added services enabled by cellular networks.
In this context, the Extended Vehicle Concept allows continuous access to vehicle-related data through properly calibrated and secured connections to a back-end neutral server. This access being non-discriminatory hereby puts an end to a longstanding block exemption: it is open indeed to all third-parties, including for self-diagnosis.
As evidence that industry is past dogma and fully focused on reasonable results, CLEPA talks with ACEA to evaluate the concept.
Whatever system is agreed eventually, it has to be secured to dispel the fear of scary scenarios whereby hackers would take control of your vehicle. Importantly too, car manufacturers must be prevented from snooping on competition. And the system must enable a free flow of data, some of those being mission-critical for road safety. Safety is actually a key priority of governments and businesses busy addressing these issues jointly. Cybersecurity, the top concern of German industry, runs high too in the ICT-enabled automotive sector. Cybersecurity is not an issue for discussion though, it should be taken for granted, lest users might stop trusting the automotive industry. Though solutions have to be technology-neutral, 5G should be deployed sooner than later to meet the need for robust, ever-ready infrastructures.
2. Transforming business.
Business is transformed by a few megatrends: automated driving; innovative power train (electric cars); Industry 4.0; light-weight material, etc. Huge investment is needed with no clue about the future. The auto-part industry (OEMs, Tier 1, wholesale, new partners, workshops) has never experienced such a magnitude of change before. While exciting, this massive transformation sends tremors into markets. Tier 1, i.e. the Bosch or Valeo of this world, generates 60% of automotive innovation. Increasingly, OEMs, aka car manufacturers, see themselves as providers of services around mobility rather than car manufacturers. They have yet to figure out business models with real value.
Big Data begs the question of who gets access to data, i.e. access to business.
3. Transforming our life.
The transformation doesn’t stop at business, it concerns users as well. Like in other ICT-enabled sectors, ownership becomes less and less relevant. Fleet management means that less individuals make decision on their vehicle needs. This decision is professionally assisted. The garage-owner dialogue is made no longer strategic with the rise of preventive maintenance.
In the process, inventory management becomes easier if you know what is needed when and where.
Shared economy includes shared mobility, which sends the automotive industry’s pie shrinking. In response to lower volumes they have to put higher value-added products and services into their offering.
However much automated, the Customer Relationship Management remains critical. It is considerably helped by Big Data as long as data analytics is delivering on its promise. For example, anomalies will be flagged to both the owner and the system, whichever wants to use this data first. Whether you pick data from a car or a neutral server makes no difference. This is more or less cybersecurity and privacy by design. But isn’t cybersecurity a continuous process?
4. On the policy side, legislative self-restraint is strongly advised. On one hand, the connected cars opportunity is not limited to a country or a particular region of the world: it is truly global; like hackers, cars will travel. On the other hand, a monolithic solution is sure to make hackers’ exploits – a threat that runs high in all stakeholders’ mind – easier and even more of a worldwide disaster. The Commission understands this and is trying to figure out where each party stands in this constellation of actors. They have left no stone unturned as to how to tap expertise and make the most of it: I-CTS, GEAR 2030, EATA, 5GAA, etc. TRL is expected to provide a comprehensive study likely to help shape recommendations to policy makers in June. But as long as nobody knows where we are heading exactly, the market should be left to decide which technology works best. Meanwhile the European Parliament is toying with opening third party access tools that will potentially blow up the industry. Arguably, this set of issues should inform ongoing discussions on the telecom framework.
We must be careful not to mix up the promotion of legislative self-restraint and that of permanent regulatory relief.
In a nutshell, European industries, governments and civil society are working hand in hand to ensure that our region of the world keeps its global lead in the automotive sector.