Network-connected cars are fast becoming the subject of both excitement and controversy. As the public awareness of everything from value added services through self-driving cars expands, M2M publication Connected World Magazine has named not one but four cars its “Connected Car of the Year”.
Effectively connected cars, with compelling onboard features, could be a substantial market driver for more and different network connectivity. ABI Research estimated last Spring that the number of connected cars around the world would grow from 45 million at the end of last year to 210 million by 2016. The primary use of that connectivity today is for navigation and safety features, with entertainment and social networking uses trailing. That is expected to change though as young consumers grow older and cars become less dependent on human navigation.
Thus the award provides an interesting snap-shot in time. Save this one for your scrapbooks, kids, because things will likely look very different once the cars are driving themselves.
The 2012 award winners were:
Ford Focus (Small – pictured above)
Chrysler 300 (Mid-Size)
Cadillac XTS (Luxury)
Audi A8 (Ultra-Luxury)
Connected World says it considered the following factors:
Among the factors considered were:
- Safety, e.g., mobile syncing, audible text messaging, crash avoidance, blind-spot detection.
- Remote access to vehicle, e.g. via smartphone.
- Traffic and navigation features.
- Infotainment, distraction-free streaming content (music, videos, pictures).
- Connectivity to other devices (computer, tablet, smartphone, etc.).
- Web and social media connectivity.
The proliferation of these kinds of connected features comes at a time when, on one hand, the U.S. government is looking to curtail the use of connected devices while driving, but on the other hand, self-driving cars are moving ahead into the market as well. Nevada moved towards legalizing the use of autonomous vehicles on its highways this week.