Increase in Connected Vehicles Services Allows Automakers to Meet Changing Consumer Demands

Consumers look to integrate Smartphones, get emergency help with in-vehicle technology

Jan 12, 2010, 19:19 ET from ATX Group

DETROIT, Jan. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Improved safety, Smartphone and electronics integration are the drivers in consumer behavior that automakers need to address to keep in step with consumer expectations, automotive leaders shared this morning at the Automotive News World Congress panel, New Ways of Doing Business in the Connected Vehicle Era, sponsored by ATX. The desire to remain connected, ability to trust companies and how the perception of risks affects the value of real-time remote diagnostics were among some of the trends discussed.

Paul Haelterman, vice president of global research firm CSM Worldwide, predicted that the industry will grow with three more manufacturers offering the services. By 2015, 45 percent of all vehicles will offer connected services in North America. In fact, it will become standard on most luxury vehicles.  

The panel held at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center featured Haelterman, Scott Miller, CEO of the Detroit office of global research firm Synovate, and Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, America's largest automotive retailer. The discussion presented the ramifications of entire model lines being "connected" via wireless networks to off-board servers and content and personalized Web interfaces with vehicle owners. Haelterman discussed the impact on automakers' business. Jackson discussed how the trend will benefit automobile retailers such as AutoNation. Ed Lapham, Automotive News editor, moderated the panel.  

The best way to deliver connectivity, by proprietary, closed electronics architectures or open platforms, was also discussed.  Consumers want to take their Smartphones and place them in the vehicles. They expect the vehicle to be just as intuitive as the iPhone. An open architecture would allow consumers to bring their Smartphones and its applications to the vehicle but causes a safety concern for automakers. Haelterman recommended a hybrid system to give both consumers and OEMs what they want.

"A hybrid architecture enables the OEM to embed a portion of the technology, allowing it to be layered with the technology the consumer brings to the car," said Haelterman.

Selling connectivity to the consumer ranges from "yawn, to that's nice, to wow," Jackson shared. Vehicles come loaded with connectivity features but subscriptions drop-off when the trial period ends.  However, real-time diagnostics can provide value to consumers.

"The emerging ability of vehicles to be real-time communications devices generates extremely positive reactions among vehicle owners primarily when it pertains to their receiving real-time diagnostic reports or receiving very specific unsolicited messages that pertain to their vehicle or their drive," noted Miller, whose firm has been conducting consumer research towards connected vehicles among owners of various automobile brands.

Miller said its research found a majority of vehicle owners would share most types of vehicle usage data, with the exception of logging speed driven, with their insurance company in exchange for some form of discount on their connected vehicle services package or at least a 20% discount on their insurance premium.

"The future of connectivity is about re-contenting the car, not de-contenting," said Steve Millstein, president, ATX Group. "Millennials make up 25 percent of the automotive market. They have been connected their entire lives. They're not concerned about the throttle of the engine. They want cool. They want to be seamlessly connected."


With operations in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, and Dusseldorf, Germany, ATX is one of the world's leading providers of customized connected vehicle (telematics) services to global automobile manufacturers. ATX services, among the first to be launched in the consumer vehicle market back in 1996, are provided to vehicle owners through the brand names of its customers: Toyota, Lexus, BMW and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. 

Services by ATX provide enhanced safety, security and driving convenience to vehicle owners, and include location-specific emergency and roadside assistance, automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle recovery, remote diagnostics, and real-time traffic and navigation assistance.  ATX also customizes services to help automobile manufacturers and their affiliated dealerships use real-time vehicle data and multiple customer contact channels to reduce costs, enhance vehicle servicing, and more closely manage customer relationships and contacts with the vehicle through its lifetime.  ATX is a division of Cross Country Automotive Services (, a leading provider of location-based automotive services.  

For more information, visit