“5G is the key future element of the connected car and must be implemented quickly” Dr Mike Peters, Harman
Last week, the EU rejected the Commission’s push for a wifi-based standard for V2X communication – much to the surprise and regret of VW and Renault but to the delight of BMW, Daimler and PSA Group, which are in favour of 5G. Indeed, the auto and tech industries have been split over which technology is superior and safer. What do 5G and data mean for the connected and autonomous car and what is at play? We asked Dr. Mike Peters, President of the Connected Car Division at Harman.
What is the current situation in terms of connected car? How are digital technologies and data changing the game?
Dr. Mike Peters: “The key question for the connected car is, whether data companies or car manufacturers will drive its future development and gather the economic benefits of its development. For Silicon Valley technology companies, the question is easy to answer: the car offers them another great opportunity to improve content delivery- and data-driven services. The challenge is much harder to answer for car manufacturers. There is not yet a convincing answer as to how they can garner sales from the data they generate via their systems."
How should car makers embrace digitization? Who will emerge the winner?
MP: “To achieve a breakthrough here, automakers must accept the fact that the value of a car today and in the future depends on the (digital) features it has to offer. Legacy car companies must create features that are superior to those of the Internet companies and evolve their business models to reflect this shift. The challenge and the opportunity now is; how do OEMs capture the visceral and exhilarating, but centuries-old driving experience, and convert it to provide value in a digital age.”
What would be the ideal situation – open data sharing, 5G, standardization – and what would be the main applications?
MP: “The investments necessary to realize the fully connected, and later, autonomous car are immense and impracticable for a single player. To move forward with the connected car, a new approach is needed: a standardized platform based on a joint initiative. Ideally, all market participants should agree on a common foundation and finance it. Industry lives from shared platforms. The standard PC design, the Internet itself or the smartphone operating system Android are all examples for industry platforms with extremely lively competition."
In a standardised world, how can companies distinguish themselves?
MP: “Competitors should differentiate themselves by the added value they create for users. Therefore, all players must first construct the playing field together and then differentiate themselves upon it - for example through intelligent and innovative services that thrill the customer. Therefore, not one application will be the decisive factor, but success will come through holistic and immersive customer experiences."
What are the obstacles on the road to this ideal situation, e.g. patents, OEMs not willing to share data, GDPR,…?
MP: “We are seeing two major obstacles. The first is the missing essential 5G infrastructure. 5G is the key future element of the connected car and must be implemented quickly. Telcos, OEMs, suppliers, regulators, and infrastructure providers all need to work closely together to prepare the foundations for the mobile digital future as quickly as possible. Otherwise, connected cars and autonomous driving will remain only a dream for years to come.
The second major obstacle is the rapidly growing digital lifestyle. Users expect, wherever they are and wherever they go, seamless transitions without media breaks or cumbersome procedures. The connected car must fit into this lifestyle. Drivers should be able to use the features and functions that are important to them seamlessly without distraction. Paradoxically, this will only work if the underlying technology becomes even more powerful, data-intensive, AI-driven, versatile and - yes - complex.”
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