Will eCall drive rapid market growth in automotive M2M communications?

eCall eCall

Wellingborough, UK. September 6, 2012 — IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., forecasts that unit sales of connected vehicles in Western Europe will grow to 15 million units by 2019. This equates to a fitment rate in new vehicles of more than 95%. So says a new IMS report on the automotive telematics market.

eCall is a proposal to enact legislation mandating the fitment of a crash-proof embedded emergency calling system in all new cars sold within the European Union. The basic system calls for a dormant ‘cell phone’ to be fitted in the vehicle that will call the emergency services if the car is involved in an accident.

The system will place a voice call and send a minimum data set to the local public safety answering point (PSAP). Officers there can then speak with the occupants to find out if emergency response is required; or, in instances where the occupants are unable to respond, use the minimum set of data to dispatch emergency responders.

Most of the press coverage on eCall focuses around when it will be legislated (2015) and how much it will cost the automotive industry, but what some fail to realise, says the report’s author, is the fact that this system is going to be a great gateway to a host of new business opportunities for the industry and a host of great new services for the customer.

While, in its most basic iteration, the eCall box is purely an emergency calling system, it is actually a catalyst for the industry to step up its plans to offer more advanced connected services in new vehicles.

While several manufacturers have tried and failed to sell emergency calling to consumers over the past 10 years, what has become clear through both business success and consumer research is that drivers will pay for services that are relevant to their daily lives.

The other great thing is that no single manufacturer has yet developed a ‘killer’ system architecture or application for this market segment. As such, the opportunity exists for a supplier to innovate its way to greater market share and generate an additional revenue stream, says IMS Research.

According to Jack Bergquist, senior analyst at IMS Research, “On top of pure revenue generation, these new connected services also offer a great new way for manufacturers to interact and stay in contact with customers, something that has previously been restricted to servicing at a dealership. With connected services, manufacturers can help prompt and even book services for customers; portals for new apps and services can be created; and software updates can be sent out. While these types of services may not guarantee any immediate revenue opportunities, they help to create a more customer service orientated view of the automotive industry, and will undoubtedly improve brand loyalty and sell more cars in the long term.”

eCall will have a widespread impact on the automotive industry beyond safety and saving lives. While many naysayers offer negative views on the service, says Bergquist, people need to look beyond the extra cost to fit the eCall unit and consider the opportunities that a fully connected market place can offer.

Click here for more information about the report:
OEM In-Vehicle Telematics – North America & Western Europe – 2012

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