By 2020, about one in five vehicles on the road will be connected to the Internet and each other. Credit: Creative Commons Lic. via Computerworld
If you buy a car during the next five years, there's a good chance it will have a wireless network connection that will enable a myriad of mobile services.
That's the prediction market research firm Gartner made today, when it released a report predicting that there will be about 250 million "connected" cars on the road by 2020.
Early last year, Gartner had predicted 150 million connected cars by that time; its latest report markedly ups that number.
Driving the adoption of connected car technology is the expansion of high-bandwidth wireless network infrastructure, rising expectations for access to mobile content and better service from smartphones and tablets.
Government regulation is also requiring automatic accident reporting functions, such as eCall, a European initiative to bring rapid assistance to motorists who've been in an accident.
Additionally, regulations are targeting vehicle-to-vehicle communications capability in many countries, Gartner said.
While several major carmakers have rolled out connected vehicles in a limited number of models, in-vehicle wireless connectivity is rapidly expanding from luxury models and premium brands to high-volume midmarket models, Gartner analyst James Hines said.
For example, General Motors last May began offering Wi-Fi in vehicles such as the Chevrolet Malibu through OnStar and AT&T. The service included 4G-LTE connectivity starting at $5 a month.
Audi announced a similar deal with AT&T for 4G-LTE service, as did Tesla. But the all-electric Tesla will only offer 3G Wi-Fi.
Verizon has partnered with Hyundai to offer 3G Wi-Fi and Chrysler is offering it through Sprint.
By 2018, two automakers will have announced plans to become technology companies and expand their connected-vehicle value experiences to other industries and devices, Gartner said in a report last year. And by 2020, at least one auto company will achieve 10% of its total revenues from connected mobility and service offerings.
"The increased consumption and creation of digital content within the vehicle will drive the need for more sophisticated infotainment systems, creating opportunities for application processors, graphics accelerators, displays and human-machine interface technologies," Hines said.
A connected vehicle is defined as any vehicle connected to an external network. In practice, the dominant mode will be a connection to a cellular network; eventually, it will include vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure networks using dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) protocols.
The connected vehicle will also lead an expansion of alternatives to car ownership, such as being able to rent an autonomous car through mobile apps and have the vehicle show up at your door, as well as enabling new concepts of mobility.
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