‘India is one of the countries on our list for connected cars’

Vidya Ram London | Updated on March 27, 2015 Published on March 27, 2015

MIKE BELL, Global Connected Car Director, JLR

Jaguar Land Rover has made connectivity, alongside energy efficiency, a technological priority for a number of years now, with studies pointing to the increasing importance customers accord to such capabilities (one McKinsey survey suggested that 20 per cent of car buyers globally, and up to 40 per cent in markets such as China, would be willing to shift brand based on its ICT capabilities). JLR launched a Connected Car programme in 2011, which has brought in a number of technologies such as its InControl Apps that enables users to use smartphone apps through the car’s touch screen. However, in the long term, it’s expected to be far-reaching, extending into autonomous driving technology. BusinessLine spoke to Mike Bell, Global Connected Car Director at JLR, at the recent Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders conference on connected cars in London, which suggests the technology across automakers could deliver a £51-billion boost to the UK economy and reduce road traffic accidents by more than 25,000 a year by 2030. Edited excerpts:

What do you mean by connected cars?

People have different views on this, but at JLR, we think of it in terms of four aspects: firstly, telematics — building connectivity, SIM in the guts of a phone buried in a car.

Then you have connected devices — InControl apps that allow you to use a smart phone in a driver-safe way on the touch screen. Then we’ve built things into our infotainment system for navigation – bringing live traffic data, for example, for navigation.

The final area which is emerging where there aren’t any vehicles on the road yet (with any manufacturers) is vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication

What does this involve?

This is something we are working on as part of a car-to-car consortium with other manufacturers that standardises the way cars talk to each other – for example, it can notify another vehicle. No one has this technology on the road. You need many cars on the road before they can talk to each other and there are challenges from legislation and security before that is rolled out.

What is the global roll-out plan for connected cars?

The programmes are global – we obviously focus on our key markets first as you’d expect – and we’ve rolled out our services in seven countries where we are today. We will then roll out to cover about 85 to 90 per cent of our market. We don’t have a specific date for India, though India is one of the countries on our list for connectivity services.

How does it fit into the wider strategy of JLR?

It’s about delivering safety and security features by introducing connectivity in the vehicle. We are also enabling a better driving experience for the driver. If we can avoid people playing with phones by enhancing the experience using touch screens that is a big benefit which means our customers will drive better.

JLR has talked about autonomous cars in the past. How does this fit into the connectivity programme?

Autonomous cars are separate but overlapping – vehicle-to-vehicle communication will be a big part of autonomy.

Cars will have sensors and radars but sensors only go so far to anticipating things further away, or if you re going round a corner.

With better vehicle-to-vehicle communication, you can actually communicate and inform the vehicle up to a kilometre away, and could even result in emergency breaking activity, slowing down vehicles.

So it’s about safety?

This is part of the collaboration research we are doing – looking at the human interface in terms of technology and how you inform the driver.

How do you mange to get someone not doing anything to pay attention and take over control of the wheel and steering.

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Published on March 27, 2015
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