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Automotive Connectivity Presents New Challenges and Opportunities for OEMs

Defocus Night

Recently, I went to have lunch with a service technician friend at a Ford dealership. When I got to the service area, he was sitting in a Ford Explorer and had a computer out running diagnostics. This struck me as so much different from the job I remembered him doing when we were in high school.

My friend attended college for one semester before he announced that he had to get a job where he was working with his hands. So, he became an auto mechanic and went on to have a successful career doing what he loved: working on cars. Although, today, it looks like his career was much more behind a computer than tinkering with tools and grease.

So much of the automotive industry is now about computers, sensors, cameras, and replacing the old school engines. I still am amazed at how the cameras, sensors, and apps are making the vehicle today so much safer than those of years past. A mechanic is now a technician, and the vehicles are generating all kinds of data.

Connected Vehicles Improve Safety, Alerts, Insurance, and More

Connected vehicles can make us safer drivers, impact our insurance costs, and help OEMs know what services we will need. At this point, my app tells me what my oil level is and when I need to change it. In addition to improving vehicle performance and enhancing passenger safety, tires will be able to communicate accurate information.  Suspension settings, size changes during tire rotations or battery life estimates for electric vehicles can be anticipated and optimized. Today, monitoring tire pressure and temperature remotely and in real time is possible, thus ensuring more excellent safety for operators.  Connected tires also reduce vehicle downtime and optimize tire use. Thanks to this solution, tires last longer, and the environmental footprint is reduced.

Another new element for tires is UPTIS (Unique Puncture Proof Tire System) tire. UPTIS does not contain an inner tube; in fact, it contains no air at all, meaning that auto manufacturers who specify them will not need to include a jack or a spare tire with their vehicles, eliminating weight and cost. UPTIS is expected to be introduced on General Motors passenger vehicles as soon as 2024.

Communicating With Your Car In A Whole New Way

We’re all familiar with the capabilities of a modern smartphone and its cousin the smartwatch. These portable pocket and wrist computers respond to voice commands, allow us to send and receive text messages, and host countless downloadable applications designed to stream music, direct us away from traffic congestion, and much more. Similar functionality comes from in-home devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Among other tasks, users can turn on lights in their home or adjust the thermostat with a simple voice command from in the house or miles away using an app on their smartphone.

With connected services in a car, automakers take the next step by bundling all those capabilities and integrating them with their vehicles. Every car company offers some level of connectivity, which can range from free Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration to subscription-based live concierge assistance. Availability of these services will vary depending on the model year, vehicle, trim level, and sometimes selected option packages.

As examples of this are the General Motors OnStar, NissanConnect, and Toyota Connected Services systems. But remember, all car companies now offer some form of connected services, and they typically work similarly to the GM, Nissan, and Toyota platforms.

Be A Mobility Leader

This connectivity is only the beginning and technology will continue to evolve. Automotive companies are truly mobility companies today and that will continue going forward. OEMs are shifting from hardware to software, and that is going to revolutionize their industry. But just like my friend, who had to evolve from an auto mechanic to a service technician, automotive companies need to embrace this evolution to survive and thrive.

At Perficient, we created an automotive practice with the sole purpose of serving OEMs, suppliers, and the entire automotive ecosystem.

Tap into Perficient’s automotive expertise to transform and build out a sustainable competitive advantage.

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Keith Tomatore

A long-time senior executive in the auto industry who has held the position of SVP, Retail Marketing at Global Team Blue (GTB, a WPP Company) on the Ford Retail Business. In this role, Keith worked with the Ford Dealer Associations across the country to help them with their Precision Marketing and digital efforts. Also, he served as CEO of iFrog Marketing Solutions, which focused on Automotive advertising solutions for Tier 2 and Tier 3.

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