How connected cars will support a more sustainable future
With emerging autonomous vehicles, 100% connected cars and 5G, it is possible to engineer and embed technology in ways that protect the environment and promote long-term sustainability. Don’t get me wrong, I still like my weekend toys which are powered by internal combustion engines (ICE). However, we should embrace that we have the means today to build connected cars that help improve air quality, optimize energy performance, and decrease emissions.
A bumpy road ahead
Automotive production is slowly restarting but with unemployment soaring, we can expect a weakened market in 2020-2021. I predict light vehicle sales just in North America down over 25%, and 14-22% globally  in 2020. To control costs, a natural tactic would be for the automotive industry to reduce marketing efforts and stop innovation projects. However, this is not the case based on current automotive industry trends. Innovation within connected vehicles, autonomous driving, and redefined business models can contribute to sustainable transportation.
Connectivity at the core of connected vehicles
Connected cars are in everyone’s near future. I believe that vehicle connectivity should be easy to implement and manage. Automakers need to adapt to the new world where connectivity is an absolute necessity. Connectivity ultimately changes the paradigm between the automakers and the consumer. Connected cars offers better and safer driving experience, smoother traffic, and optimized energy consumption for lower emissions that are friendlier for the environment. Check out the exciting work Ericsson does with the Automotive Edge Compute Consortium (AECC.org), helping industry stakeholders set new routes for connected cars by increasing network and computing capacity. Together with our founding partner Toyota, our shared strategic goal is to smartly integrate automotive big data between vehicles and the cloud by using edge computing and more efficient system design.
Autonomous vehicles are needed
The Society of Automotive Engineers defines six levels of driving automation ranging from zero “fully manual” to five “fully autonomous.” We still have some security work to do, and consumers will not accept fully autonomous cars unless they are self-assured that they will be at least as safe as they would be on an airplane. By 2025, several millions of level five vehicles on the road would have a positive impact on reaching our sustainability goals as defined by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The accelerated evolution of autonomy is one of the trends influencing the future of mobility.
Enriched data insights and software can optimize performance
Existing vehicles on the roads are driving more miles than ever before. This highlights the need for vehicle manufacturers to ensure that new technology works flawlessly from the get-go. Not only are vehicles increasingly smarter, but they are also mobile network-aware. Manufacturers have rapidly shifted focus from hardware to software. More importantly, new services or performance enhancements are introduced by over-the-air software updates. The ability to remotely update embedded software along with cyber-security measures is a vital mechanism for manufacturers to guarantee security, improve safety, reduce time-to-market, and increase their vehicle value proposition. Over-the-air updates provide better insights on how the vehicle works and quantifiable data to take corrective action to improve the customer experience and car performance.
Over-the-air updates and a network-aware car
One of the highest expenses for manufacturers is trips to the dealership to fix mundane development errors. It is challenging to estimate the benefits of over-the-air updates compared physical updates, but it would be safe to say that the environment is the winner. Because of fewer trips to the dealership, and more efficient use of the drivetrain regardless of the type of energy source, this is a more sustainable path. Consumers benefit from an enriched experience and are incentivized if they share data in exchange for a lower cost. On the flip side, recalls and trips to the dealership is the single most efficient way for the dealers to upsell to consumers, and generate more leads.
Additional large-scale benefits can be achieved once the car is connected, and we have embedded functionality determining current and past network behavior. We can then decide on more efficient routing based on traffic congestion, assist cities with planning, and implement environmental zones. These zones are restricted to vehicles that meet specific emission standards.
Many consumers hesitate to go fully electric considering long journeys. A likely scenario and middle road is the hybrid approach. Connected vehicle features coupled with artificial intelligence is a must. The evolution of smart applications is continuous, and they have just entered the product lifecycle growth stage.
Sustainability is central to my purpose. It is an ongoing journey and requires continuous work. This is a similar case for the automotive industry. Like I mentioned initially, it will be hard to give up on my passion for ICEs. However, the potential of smart connected electric vehicles offers a bright and more sustainable future.
OEMs realize the key is to not think about connectivity as a cost, but rather as a business enabler that will also benefit our sustainability goals.
To learn more about Service Innovation and seamlessly make it a part of your digital automotive service offering, please check out how Ericsson captures the full potential of connected vehicles.
Read more about the life of a connected car: