What are connected cars?
Simply put, cars that can actually connect to the internet are defined as connected cars. The car uses WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) to connect to the internet. Connected cars can help users share data — location, navigation — with external devices and servers.
What connected cars are available in India?
While it’s not a new phenomenon but brands MG (Morris Garages), Hyundai, Kia Motors, Mercedes-Benz were one of the first movers in India. For its Hector car, MG tied up with Airtel to get connected mobility with an e-Sim. Not just that MG has a connected car tech called iSMART Next Gen, which as per the company, was developed by collaborating with Microsoft, Adobe, Gaana, Cisco, and others.
Likewise, Hyundai has partnership with Vi (Vodafone-Idea) for an in-build e-SIM. Kia Motors has a tech called Uvo Connect that can be integrated with users’ smartphones or even smartwatches. It has functions like remote engine start/stop, auto collision notification, live car tracking.
Mercedes-Benz has something MBUX that makes it car smarter and better in terms of safety, information about the condition of the car among others.
App-based connectivity matters the most
While connected cars are still at a nascent stage, the use of apps is something almost every car manufacturer worth their salt is offering. Toyota’s app gives you detailed 3D downloadable maps with live traffic updates, speed limit display among other things. For vehicle maintenance, there’s an option of getting timely service reminders and making convenient e-payments.
Like other apps, Ford Owners gives access to roadside assistance and works as a guide to empower customers with knowledge about their vehicles. There’s also an option to browse how-to videos, use GPS to locate dealers and service centres.
Hyundai’s Blue Link gives users 33 features, including the ability to lock/unlock the car or even start/stop the engine from any location.
All about infotainment systems
The infotainment system in any car these days is one of the features that many buyers look out for. They are getting bigger and better and offer a slew of features. With touchscreen ability, the infotainment systems have a smartphone-like user interface. Connected car tech plays a crucial role in the infotainment system. Like smartphones, you can get over-the-air (OTA) updates to keep in times with all software features.
Safe and secure: Key feature of connected cars
Connected cars tech makes the car safer in many ways. In case a car is stolen, a car owner can track the vehicle through the app. Some car manufacturers also offer the option of remotely shutting down the car. Users can get alert if their car moves out of a particular area — this is done through geofencing.
In an unfortunate case of a collision, connected cars can automatically dial a preset emergency number. SOS alerts can be sent to registered contacts or to get roadside assistance.
Move over Alexa, Siri, new car voice assistants are coming in
MG has Hello MG, Mercedes has Hey Mercedes whereas Kia has Hello Kia — all voice-based assistants that promise to make driving a better experience. You can give voice commands to these assistants to execute tasks like setting the AC temperature, open/close sunroofs or set the navigation to a particular address.
Early days with a few bumps ahead
Unlike cars like Tesla where technology has seeped into every nook and corner, it’s still early days for connected cars in India. They are now not exclusive to high-end cars but are available in mid-range cars as well. However, there are many questions like where and how is your data being used? Not many brands have spoken about data privacy when it comes to connected cars. After all, your data is being shared with the mobile carriers, car manufacturers and there’s little clarity whether it’s being shared with third parties or not. The other thing not clear is whether or what sort of data is encrypted.