Electric car standing in front of digital city built of binary code stands for always-on connectivity in IoT cars.
#Connectivity & IoT

IoT cars: next generation of connected cars

Global Trends
7 Mins.

The automotive industry is on its way to becoming completely connected, with the vast majority of new cars expected to have connected technology by next year. Security will be at the heart of this digital transformation, ensuring that the vehicles of tomorrow provide safe, reliable connectivity and personalized services for drivers and passengers.

The drivers of tomorrow will have completely different expectations of the car experience than those from any previous generation. For a start, they’re more likely to be part of car-sharing schemes. Plus, they’re extremely likely to use vehicles as a space to consume media, do work and make calls. This means ensuring that – whether a vehicle is owned or shared – in-built systems allow flexible personalization based on user profiles. As with security in many other areas of our life, keeping people’s digital identity safe will be the cornerstone of new mobility.

From yesterday, to today and beyond

We’ve seen some form of mobile phone technology in vehicles for several decades, with the deployment of carphone systems stepping up significantly during the 1980s. Since then, as mobile technology has improved, so too has the level of in-vehicle connectivity. Over the years we’ve moved from a device used to make voice calls to one that could also send simple texts, to one with a host of functions, including GPS.

Today, smartphone technology is integral to the car connectivity experience and is being used for an even greater number of functions, including telematics services and legally mandated automatic emergency call systems, such as the EU’s eCall platform. As the Internet of Things (IoT) takes off, this will also provide the basis for vehicle connectivity and data exchange with other vehicles, infrastructure and consumer devices. Looking ahead, developments such as 5G and autonomous driving will further transform the experience, offering safer, more comfortable and convenient vehicle usage.

We’re entering a new age of mobility, but the automotive digital transformation will only be successful if the industry delivers new IoT-enabled services to drivers via a system that is secure, easy to use and trusted. As a result, automotive firms are exploring how they can meet consumer demands for seamless integration between smartphones and vehicles, where customers enjoy the new experience via their existing cell phone number.

We asked which digital identity provider users most trust for service registration purposes: mobile phone no. and MNO ID; social media ID (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google); or mobility service provider (car OEM ID, car sharing company ID, Uber etc.). These are the results:
We asked which digital identity provider users most trust for service registration purposes: mobile phone no. and MNO ID; social media ID (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google); or mobility service provider (car OEM ID, car sharing company ID, Uber etc.). These are the results.

Alleviating security concerns

As increasing numbers of vehicles become connected, it is more important than ever to ensure that user and vehicle data are secured. At the heart of the connected car experience is the embedded SIM (eSIM). This technology, first introduced into the automotive industry in 2012, enables secure and flexible connectivity. It has gone some way to streamlining integration between the handset and the vehicle, proving to be the reliable, robust and trusted platform the connected car ecosystem requires.

Unmanaged eSIMs are linked to a fixed Mobile Network Operator (MNO). Updates can be easily carried out using remote SIM management, and global connectivity and security. Plus, the technology enables automotive manufacturers to install the appropriate network profile and ensure that local legal requirements are met. At the same time, eSims allow the auto industry to improve the user experience, develop new business models through secure digital services and further strengthen trust in their brands, all important developments as we move towards 5G and connected IoT cars.

Facing up to the challenges

Greater connectivity means greater complexity, and industry stakeholders wanting to stay ahead of the connectivity curve are working to address this. OEMs, which are considered to be more trustworthy guardians of data than digital players – as long as no data breach happens1 – are examining new ways of dealing with these issues in their pursuit of the connected car of the future. Today, for example, drivers can connect their IoT devices to their vehicle via Bluetooth to make phone calls or use apps. In this scenario, the vehicle serves as a convenient display and input device for the cell phone, but the vehicle’s Bluetooth capability must be compatible with endless mobile device models, each with thousands of software versions. As a result, some consumers report that they struggle to achieve connectivity because of complex Bluetooth pairing.

Manufacturers are also getting to grips with how to manage multiple SIMs within one vehicle, which often means juggling multiple mobile operators that are competing on service and data capacity. Furthermore, they must find IoT solutions to the problem of metal coated vehicle windows interfering with cell phone connectivity when handsets are used inside the car.

“Only by mastering the integration between mobile and vehicle can car manufacturers enable autonomous, always-connected driving experiences.“

The future: Cars with Dual SIMs and dual activations

Only by mastering the integration between mobile and vehicle can car manufacturers enable autonomous, always-connected driving experiences, and in so doing, usher in the next generation of the connected car.

In the future, connected cars could have independent eSIMs for both the car and the driver. The Dual SIM, Dual Active (DSDA) solution is an important part of this next step, benefitting consumers and industry stakeholders alike by providing the reliability, security, privacy, performance and convenience consumers demand. The DSDA is important because it provides a user-centric approach to connectivity. In this scenario, the first eSIM is used for eCall and telematics services from the OEM. The second eSIM (Consumer-eSIM) will allow consumers to use their private data plan in the vehicle, meaning that the vehicle effectively becomes a mobile device and part of this data plan. Consequently, drivers will be able to use various infotainment and music streaming applications that they can directly download from the Google Play Store or the App Store as well as access tailor-made car insurance and mobile payment functions.

The added benefit is that this is not confined to one person, but can be linked to multiple device IDs, for example, younger family members can access the entertainment systems or watch a video in the vehicle. This is important because media streaming subscriptions are increasingly replacing classic in-car radio as consumer expectations center on media continuity and personalization across devices. As a result, customers experience a positive interaction with an automobile brand because they can use their private data plan in any vehicle and save money at the same time.

Using this approach makes connecting seamless and intuitive as the eSIM automatically activates when drivers enter the car and deactivates when they leave it. This makes the connectivity hassles associated with complex Bluetooth pairing a thing of the past.

What’s more, DSDA offers the best possible connection because it uses the external vehicle antenna. This significantly enhances cellular network reception and signal quality, something which will be welcomed by customers because it means the system does not drain their mobile device battery. And as we move towards 5G, which uses extremely high-frequency wave bands which could have trouble penetrating vehicle windows, such developments become even more important.

  1. KPMG “Global Automotive Executive Survey” 2018

Published: 16/09/2020

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