Connected cars: what is it and are they safe?

The wireless technology and connectivity is making news out of Detroit because GM just announced that they will offer wireless connectivity in 15 vehicles. In addition GM CEO spoke at Boston College on the plans GM has around wireless and connected car application development.  The trends, features and safety concerns require extensive management by teams at the carriers and manufacturers.

The statistics outlined in the article show how the trends in wireless and car industry are crossing paths. Smartphone usage is up to 2.5 hours a day which exceeds the amount of time people spend in the vehicles. According to JD Power study two-thirds of people who buy a new car have a smartphone. GM sites that 80% say that connectivity “strongly influences” their car purchasing decisions. Smartphone penetration is well above 95% the wireless companies will develop and new ways to connect customers. This is adjacency move by the wireless carriers while the car manufacturers are enabling features to sell more cars.  The carriers are investing billions of dollars in their wireless infrastructure and the connected car is the next generation of products to utilize the technology. It requires strategic partnerships between industries and ongoing management. It is a strategic decision by the carriers and car companies that is of high importance to both industries. According to ABI Research, the percentage of new vehicles with factory-install telematics globally will increase from around 10% in 2011 to 53% in 2016.

Customer’s lives are digital and connected car is more than getting children watching movies in the back seat. The articles reference connected car but do not say what it means to have a connected car so it is worth mentioning some of the connected features.  There will be vehicle to vehicle connection to send an alert if someone is in an accident.  There will be connectivity exchanges about operational and safety data between vehicles and highway infrastructure to avoid accidents. Customers will be able to purchase music on the go from the console. The features and connectivity are extensive and project managers for the connected car test the features before it is released to the customer.

The experience in a connected car is hands free and the carriers and car manufacturers believe makes driving safer.  The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that proliferation of hands free devices in vehicles increase drivers distractions. As connected car reach the market there will be ongoing monitoring by project teams to investigate accidents related to distracted driving.

Questions: Is connectivity in your car influence your purchase decision? Does a connected car make the driver more or less distracted?