Connected Car Experiences in 2019: Exploring the Possibilities

Man using in-car display to connect to the internet - connected cars

By 2020, we are expected to see more than 381 million connected cars on the road. The likes of Tesla, General Motors (GM), Toyota and BMW are already ramping up their respective connected car offerings, with the latter leading the pack — according to the 200 automotive executives surveyed by KPMG.

With that in mind, 2019 should be an interesting year for the connected car landscape. Some of leading industry experts and practitioners help us take a look at the current world of connected cars, and dare to wonder what future could hold.

What Is a Connected Car?

A connected car is a vehicle that is equipped with internet connectivity and, in most cases, a WLAN. This enables the car to access data, send data, download software and patches, communicate with other Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and provide WiFi for onboard passengers. 

Lonnie Miller, principal automotive industry consultant at SAS, explained how connected cars came about and how they evolved. “The concept of connected vehicles was introduced in 1996 as a high-end safety feature on General Motors’ Cadillac line. Called OnStar, GM created the service with Motorola Automotive,” Miller explained. In the 20 years since, connected vehicles have evolved to give drivers access to, “safety, security, navigation, infotainment, diagnostics and remote payment features.”

The connected vehicles of today can help you find a parking spot and anticipate a needed repair. “[Today’s] connected car can even help you find premium entertainment options or desired goods and services,” Miller said.

Related Article: What Audio Marketing Is and Why It Should Be a Part of Your Content Strategy

Existing Connected Car Experiences

Currently, car manufacturers are connecting their vehicles in two ways: embedded and tethered. Embedded vehicles utilize a built-in antenna and chipset, whereas tethered connections make use of hardware that enables drivers to connect their cars through their smartphones. “Today, most car makers offer either Apple Carplay or Android Auto in at least some of their models. Such connectivity allows the [mobile] phone to be connected to the car, and everything from calls to music to navigational directions on the phone can be operated via the onscreen display,” said Richard Reina, product training director at CARiD.

Ford recently introduced FordPass Smartlink, a subscription-based dongle that plugs straight into your onboard diagnostics port and gives you access to a handful of smart-vehicle features. It is compatible with Ford vehicles dating back to 2007.

Reina added that almost every car manufacturer is involved in delivering the connected car experience. “GM, Audi and Volvo all provide 4G LTE internet access and Bluetooth connectivity that supports the drivers preferred navigation and music apps. Some luxury brands are beginning to take things a step further, offering what can be described as “concierge services” rolled into their connected cars to further automate daily tasks for drivers,” Reina said.

One example of this is found in some BMW models, where a bundled app integrates with your calendar, messages and other frequently-used apps to ensure you leave on time for your destination and are notified of the best route to get you there.

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