Connected Cars and the New Business Economy

Connected cars are not just changing the way we drive cars, but in-car tech, mobile GPS and new auto-specific mobile apps are already having a big impact on how companies and entire industries do business. In fact, the increasingly connected and fast- evolving transportation and human activity landscape is giving birth to new ways of living and doing business especially when it comes to entertainment, insurance, government interfacing and aftermarket applications.

Let’s start with the insurance industry. Did you know on-board telematics are just starting to transform insurance companies? More and more, consumers are allowing their insurance company to track their vehicle via GPS-delivered data to monitor driving patterns, gather data and then spit out evaluations to save on monthly bills or advise drivers on how best to decrease their insurance costs.

GM, for example, will shortly be launching a “usage-based insurance platform” called Smart Driver. Through this new system, GM customers can opt-in and agree to allow the car company to collect real-time driving data. “After an ignition cycle, they will be able to log into OnStar.com to access a detailed assessment and driving score,” so says GM’s Stefan Cross. “If they choose, they can then share that score with their insurance company to potentially save money on car insurance rates based on driving behavior.”

When it comes to mobile apps, GM and Ford were at the forefront of allowing API access to outside developers. This unprecedented opening up into an OEM’s in-car technologies is delivering new ways to interact with drivers and consumers. Ford’s third gen Sync3 infotainment platform, for example, has a “location-sharing service.” Called Glympse, this app sends a hands-free message to friends and family notifying them if the driver has hit some traffic and is running late.

In 2015, GM launched its unprecedented OnStar 4G LTE across its entire vehicle lineup. This built-in wireless connectivity provides a high-speed connection on 40+ GM models in the United States, Canada, Europe and China. Cross says the immediate benefit to having an embedded Wi-Fi hotspot is that it “allows passengers to connect up to seven mobile devices to high-speed wireless internet” via AT&T for as low as $5 a month. What can you do with a 4G connection in your car? How about stream Netflix from a tablet device or pre-paying for sales transactions before you even walk in the store or restaurant?

Cross says OnStar also recently partnered with Priceline.com to allow OnStar’s “advisors” to book hotel rooms at deep discounts. It also launched a new e-commerce platform titled AtYourService, which allows subscribers to get offers and deals from restaurants and retail outlets right from their car or mobile app.

What about government? City leaders are using this new roaming digital data to run more efficient municipal systems for everything from parking to law enforcement to traffic management to public transportation.

Of course, aftermarket component manufacturers are salivating over hooking up used cars to the cellular network with sensors. This will allow drivers who previously didn’t have in-car telematics to connect to the Wi-Fi network for collecting real-time data to deliver new mobile products.

Some of the top “connected car” minds in the country see the connected car lifestyle coming forth as fast as a Tesla Model X. Connected Car Expo director Andy Gryc says while self-driving cars are mostly in the news, he sees the bigger picture. “The autonomous car not only changes personal driving habits, but the foundation of transportation and the way we will extend our cities,” he explains. “How people relate to common services such as childcare, delivery, employment, and vacations will be fundamentally different after autonomous becomes commonplace.”

The new “mobile lifestyle” of connected cars is quickly affecting just about everything when it comes to transportation. Are you ready for this momentous business and transportation transformation?