EU mobile tech scheme will prompt connected cars revolution

  
Disclaimer: all opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EurActiv.com PLC.

The European Commission’s proposed regulation to fit new passenger cars and light vehicles with eCall - a form of embedded mobile technology - will not only save lives but revolutionise Europe’s car and mobile technology industries in the process, writes Francesca Forestieri.

Francesca Forestieri is the director of automotive mobile information technology,mAutomotive, at GSMA, the global mobile operators association.

The initiative, which will require all new car models in EU member states to be fitted with the eCall system by 2015, will automatically connect car passengers to emergency services after major accidents.

Early estimates suggest that emergency teams are likely to arrive at the scene of an accident twice as quickly if a car fitted with eCall (as opposed to nothing) crashes in a rural area.  And, with more than 1 million traffic accidents every year, and over 30,000 road deaths, this type of development clearly represents a huge step towards improving the safety and security of car passengers across Europe.

But, for eCall to be truly successful EU countries must put in place a framework for their emergency call centres, to effectively route eCall messages and make sure the technology is fully compatible and functional.

Not every emergency call centre across the EU will be used for eCall, so member states will need to tell mobile operators which ones have the capability, as it will not always be the closest emergency call centre to an incident, so that eCall messages are routed correctly.

Looking beyond eCall, embedded mobile technology clearly carries benefits that go further than the area of safety. Once adopted, it will have a profound impact on both the car and embedded mobile markets with eCall sales alone expected to reach 7 million units by 2016.

But demand for other forms of embedded mobile technology - such as In-car infotainment services like news, weather, social networking and music streaming -  will also increase.

The numbers say it all. Global sales of new cars are expected to reach more than 100 million by 2018, more than 35 million of which will be shipped with embedded mobile technology. By contrast, 21 million cars will be fitted with smartphone integration and just 10 million with traditional tethered phones.  

And Europe is not alone when it comes to bringing in new regulations in this area. With greater demand for new cars in emerging nations, legislative action in the BRIC countries will also boost demand for connected cars.

Regulators in Russia are poised to introduce regulations for new cars and trucks to ship with embedded mobile systems that will alert the emergency services in the event of an accident.

Sales of cars with embedded connectivity should also increase as a result of new regulation in Brazil that demands all new vehicles be equipped with stolen vehicle location systems.

Clearly, we are in the middle of a revolution when it comes to connected cars. So, it is vital that Europe’s mobile and automotive industries work together to deliver scalable and pervasive experiences to ensure this market reaches its potential and gives Europeans the safety and services they deserve.

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