Connected Cars Coming of Age

2/8/2012


Automobiles are becoming more advanced. The connected car is a reality, and consumers are demanding new technological features when shopping for a new ride. Now, one popular connected-vehicle system is looking to work more closely with the smart grid.

OnStar, www.onstar.com, recently announced it is inviting utilities, energy companies, and tech firms to create solutions for the Chevy Volt using a set of proprietary OnStar APIs (application programming interfaces). The Chevy Volt is an electric vehicle now available for purchase.

According to OnStar, it is opening up its APIs to developers in order to broaden the potential for integrating electric vehicles with smart grid technology. This could include a number of applications. OnStar mentions some of the recently developed solutions on which the smart grid APIs will focus, including demand response, time-of-use rates for electricity, charging data, and aggregated services for electric service providers.


For example, in the category of demand response OnStar says utilities are connected to companies that provide intelligent energy-management products. The companies are then able to manage energy use for Volt customers using OnStar.

Time-of-use rates would allow drivers to receive notifications of rate-plan offers via email, and they could also use OnStar to load the rate plans into their vehicles. Drivers could then access the plans to schedule charging during off-peak times when electricity was less expensive.

Connected-car systems are being developed for a variety of vehicle functions, of which electric-vehicle charging is merely the tip of the iceberg. Solutions for infotainment, navigation, safety, and communications are also in the works from every major automaker.

Automotive telematics is one of the largest markets for cellular M2M (machine-to-machine) technology. ABI Research, www.abiresearch.com, says automotive telematics, which includes factory-installed systems such as OnStar, aftermarket services such as usage-based insurance, and fleet management systems, will represent more than $15.5 billion in 2016.

Connected World magazine is dedicated to helping readers understand the concept of the connected car and navigate the market when purchasing a vehicle. To this end, the magazine will announce its Connected World Connected Car of the Year awards in the March/April issue of Connected World. The awards will showcase the best connected cars in four categories: small, mid-size, luxury, and ultra-luxury. The vehicles will be examined on a variety of qualities, including safety, convenience, and infotainment, to present a complete picture of the current connected-car marketplace. 





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