Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Electric Vehicles and M2M are made for each other

I've been at the M2M Forum Europe for the last couple of days. My personal favourite of yesterday's presentations was from Larry Haddad at Nissan. It's always useful to hear directly from the industry verticals and Larry didn't disappoint. His focus was on electric vehicles (EVs) and how connectivity was essential for making them as efficient as possible. The big draw-back with EVs is their range, typically 100km today. However, by connecting the car you can mitigate that, or improve the EV experience in some other way:
  • Range indicator telling you how far you can still go with the remaining charge

  • EV charging point locator

  • Timing of charging - so it can charge when it's cheapest, either through remote timing or real-time request.

  • Remotely turn on climate control - if you can get your car gradually to the right temperature before you get to it it is less of a power drain altogether and will get to the right temperature initially while still plugged in meaning the battery still has maximum range.

  • It'll send you a plug-in reminder.

  • You can receive diagnostics and energy efficiency reports, including an element of gamification through telling you how many trees saved.

  • On phone app informing you how much further you can drive (with or without a/c) and you can remotely switch on the climate control.


Given the limitations of battery technology, it seems that the natural status of electric vehicles is as connected devices. Electric vehicles will all be M2M-connected. Nissan bakes in the cost of the connectivity/applications to the purchase price for 5 years.

They partner with AT&T, Rogers Wireless, NTT DoCoMo and Telenor Connexion. The latter provides connectivity across the whole of Europe, primarily through roaming agreements. This leads us to a particularly interesting point: car manufacturers are not in the business of making country-by-country deals for M2M. They need regional agreements such as that done with Telenor. Anything else seems too fiddly. However, Telenor is paying roaming rates for data in countries outside of its footprint (i.e. most countries in Europe). This is OK for low bandwidth, high value applications, but doesn't work for entertainment. The assumption must be therefore that the vehicle platform, paid for by the auto manufacturer, is not the platform for in-car entertainment. From the Nissan perspective, users will bring their own entertainment to the car via their handsets.

I have many other interesting conclusions from day 1. In the next month we at Machina Research will be publishing a report on M2M in the automotive sector. Email me if you would like more details.

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