My husband is a ‘car guy.’ And because of this I spend quite a bit of time at car shows in the summer. But this year instead of peeking under the hood, as my husband will do, I am going to be looking inside the vehicle to scope out the connected features.

What will I find? In the newer vehicles, I am sure I will uncover a combination of connected infotainment, safety and security, and convenience functionality.

A new report from ABI Research predicts OEM connected car system shipments will increase from 8.22 million in 2012 to 39.5 million in 2016. The organization even goes as far as to say the connected capabilities—that were once a nice add-on—are essential for today’s consumers. In particular, connected car solutions have already become a ‘must-have’ in the United States.

As one example, Nissan Motor Co., unveiled just last month a series of major initiatives aimed at improving its connected car content and services: NissanConnect will provide Altima drivers access to Google local search and navigation as well as Pandora; the dual-display concept will be available on Infiniti production models starting in 2013; and Nissan’s CARWINGS will have algorithms that use on-board and Internet-based information to improve accuracy of predicted driving.

Nissan says by 2020, with the use of wireless and cloud-based technologies, it will offer new conveniences like accident-avoiding driving intervention technologies, electric vehicle charging reservations, and a music player that adapts to the listener’s moods.

What primarily captures consumers’ attention in connected cars? ABI says infotainment. But safety and security features gain a big portion of interest as well, and usage-based insurance is making a comeback. With the United States and Western Europe already leading the way, Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, and Mercedes Benz have their eye set on China as the next major market.

Want to take a peek ‘under the hood’ of connected cars? Join me at this year’s Connected World Conference where connected cars will roll onto the showroom floor. Also, don’t miss the panel discussion where top automakers discuss the role of in-vehicle systems, focused on safety, convenience, and infotainment. Check out the agenda or register today.

I, for one, want to have in-depth knowledge direct from the automakers about what connected cars have to offer—even if only to show up my husband this summer.

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