Telematics central to electric vehicle design

Close to 80 percent of plug-in electric vehicles are being outfitted with technologies for providing traffic updates, weather data and other content.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor on

Close to 80 percent of electric vehicles on the market by 2017 will come with advanced technologies for serving up traffic updates, weather information and other streaming content, according to a new forecast from Pike Research.

The report suggests that the global market for electric vehicle telematics will reach $1.7 billion by 2017.

Commenting on the prediction, Pike Research analyst Dave Hurst said:

"Early adopters of [plug-in electric vehicles] worldwide tend to be more tech-savvy and more affluent than the average vehicle purchaser -- a combination that will help grow interest in the more advanced connected vehicle telematics packages. Additionally, many automobile manufacturers are recognizing that including connected vehicle telematics in the early days of PEV retailing helps consumers recognize the value of the vehicle. Indeed it is notable that the first mass-market PEVs (Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, and Toyota Prius Plug-in) all come with connected vehicle telematics for three years as part of their base purchase price."

I find myself wondering whether all this extra stuff in electric vehicles is part of what is holding them back from mainstream adoption.

While some of these advanced features certainly are important, such as the systems for allowing drivers to find charging stations or for alerting them when battery charge is low, I have to wonder whether all this extra stuff is necessary.

Especially when the cost might be driving up the price tags of vehicles that already have a reputation for being too expensive.

What's more, the other thing I wonder about is the atmosphere in the United States regarding distracted driving.

From what I have read recently, the federal government is getting a lot more serious about coming up with a national ban on mobile phone usage by drivers. You can also see how that legislation might wind up covering some of the smart systems that automakers are touting as differentiators in new vehicles.

As I have reported previously, the U.S. transportation secretary has personally advised major automakers to "think twice" when loading up cars with too many Internet-connected devices.

I really have to wonder whether or not carmakers should give some stripped-down electric vehicle models a shot on the market, before loading the ALL up with too much other expensive technology.

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