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Cars Will Help Drive Internet Of Things, CTIA Panel Contends

Las Vegas – Connected cars will account for a significant segment of the Internet of Things and become must-haves for a large number of motorists, a panel of wireless and car industry executives concluded here at Super Mobility Week.

Ralph de la Vega, president/CEO of AT&T Mobility and Business Solutions, cited a Strategy Analytics forecast suggesting that 32 percent of cars globally will be connected by 2017 and that 60 percent of U.S. cars, or 10 million, will be connected by that year.

Another survey found that 72 percent of consumers would delay a car purchase by a year to get a connected car from their preferred brand, he said.

The numbers point to “a new wave of opportunity for wireless,” he said. Vehicles “will be one of the most significant elements in the Internet of Things,” he noted, with wireless connectivity making cars safer, more intuitive for drivers, and more entertaining for passengers.

Arun Bhikshesvaran, chief marketing officer of wireless infrastructure maker Ericsson, pointed to a five-country consumer survey showing 58 percent awareness of the connected-car concept. The survey of 7,500 18- to 65-year-olds who plan to buy a car in the next two years found that half would switch car brands to get a connected car. Almost two thirds rate connectivity as a key criterion in their next car purchase.

General Motors is well on the way to making connected cars commonplace. By the end of the year, all of the more than 33 models among GM’s four brands will be equipped with embedded LTE, said Mary Chan, GM’s president of the global connected consumer. The rollout, which started in July, is not just about building a Wi-Fi hot spot into a vehicle but delivering safety and security, she said. Using embedded cellular is safer than pulling out a smartphone, connecting it via Bluetooth to a factory infotainment system, and using its UI to access content, she said.

Connectivity is proving popular with GM buyers, she said. Consumers who buy a GM connected car are given free data trials of three months or 3GB, and 96 to 98 percent of customers sign up for a subscription after the trial ends, she said. Consumers can also buy weekend data passes by pressing the vehicle’s OnStar button, she noted.