It’s been about four years since the industry began talking about the automakers playing a larger role in helping vehicle owners after an accident---using telematics to contact the driver at the crash scene, for example, to ask if they need medical help or a tow arranged for them, or to see if they would like a referral to a nearby shop certified by that automaker.
I frequently get asked, particularly by shops that have invested in OEM certifications, when that’s going to start to take place regularly.
I believe there are three things that need to occur---and are about to happen---to make that a reality. I should say these are strictly my opinions based on what I’ve read, conferences I’ve attended, etc. But the first thing that needs to happen is to have more vehicles “connected” via internet access. That’s happening rapidly. From the research I’ve seen, just three years from now, in 2022, nearly 90 percent of new vehicles in North America will be equipped with telematics.
But being equipped to be connected and actually being connected are two different things. To have more consumers choose to be connected will require two other changes that I see beginning to occur.
First, there’s a generational shift that has to happen. My 81-year-old father does not want GM’s OnStar to always know where he is. He’s concerned about privacy. But my 20-something-year-old niece, on the other hand, wants to stream music, so she wants to be connected to the internet 24/7. She wants her child to be able to watch movies while they are in the car. That generational divide may have slowed the adoption of vehicle connectivity, but that’s changing.
The other factor that has to be addressed is affordability. Studies have found U.S. drivers aren’t willing to pay even $500 a year to have their vehicle connected, and Canadians are willing to pay even less---under $200 year.
That’s why some recent announcements by automakers are convincing me that the connected car is about to become much more common very soon. There are automakers offering internet connectivity for $22 a month or even $17 a month. One automaker has said that in 2019 it will offer free internet connectivity for a number of years on its new cars.