Australia: No fuel for Web cars

A small market and “horrendously expensive” overheads have slowed the uptake of interactive media devices in Australian cars, says one exec pushing the cause locally.

SYDNEY--A small market and “horrendously expensive” overheads have slowed the uptake of interactive media devices in Australian cars, says one exec pushing the cause locally.

CEO of telematics developer Intelematics Australia Adam Game said Australian motorists were just starting to learn about possibilities of enhanced safety and security through wireless networks.

Meanwhile, every second car manufactured in Japan was equipped with “some sort of online capability,” he said.

Telemetric is interactive, wireless network-driven technology installed in cars that provides personalised information such as routes to destinations, traffic conditions and passenger entertainment. The technology can be used to ensure that car owners, and the police, are automatically notified when cars are broken into.

Game said his company hoped to reduce overheads through partnerships with organizations that developed similar technology in the US and Europe. Reduced overheads would mean lower prices charged to Australians for the product, he said.

“Scale is all important,” he said. “The technology to do this is horrendously expensive.”

Game said his company did not expect to break even for another three years--when the technology was expected to reach mainstream popularity with Australian motorists.

Intelematics Australia did not work closely with telematics developers in Japan--the technology’s world leader--because the country’s market dynamics and network infrastructure were too different from Australia’s, Game said.

The company’s technology is currently installed in some high-end Australian cars. Game said local manufacturers were obliged to absorb installation costs of A$2,000, and the first three years of maintenance charges--A$300 annually.

He said some car insurance agencies offered discounted insurance premiums to customers whose cars were equipped with telematics devices.

Intelematics Australia is a joint venture between Australia’s two biggest motoring clubs--NRMA and RACV.

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