Kroes renews EU push for ‘connected’ cars

Five German car manufacturers are under pressure after the European Commission said it is investigating their involvement in a potential cartel.

Neelie Kroes, the EU’s commissioner for digital affairs, is urging car manufacturers to use information technology to improve road safety and unblock Europe’s congested roads.

Kroes urged the industry to support ICT research in the automotive sector during a conference for European car manufacturers yesterday (8 November).

“I sat in a car of the future. If that car’s capabilities are an indication of what investing in research can deliver, then I urge you to get the relevant member state ministers sitting in such cars tomorrow to help secure the support you need to get those ideas to market,” the commissioner said.

The EU has been leading initiatives to promote road safety and traffic management by pooling information provided by cars that are hooked up to the digital network infrastructure.

Car manufacturers have also invested heavily in these, according to Sigrid de Vries, from European automotive lobby ACEA.

In particular, Kroes wants the industry to convert their efforts into “a global market success” via enhanced co-operation and standarisation of ICT-aided cars.

“With connected cars, we need co-operative research to help develop global standards,” Kroes said.

She also said the EU would put up further funding into ICT research for car manufacturing.

De Vries said current consumer trends pointed to good take up for so-called ICT-enabled cars and manufacturers were increasingly aware of consumer demand for environmentally sound vehicles.

A late departure warning (a signal that tells a driver when they change lane) and brake assistance (a tool that tells drivers how congested the roads are and when to brake) are two features currently being developed, De Vris said.

“Work to advance telemetry and GPS and specific projects like eCall are also part of a long-term push to deliver smart mobility and new platforms for innovation,” Kroes added in her speech.

eCall is an EU initiative which requires cars to have a hardware black box installed, which will send information about airbag use, the impact of an accident and the GPS coordinates of an accident to emergency services. 

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