Weekly Brief: All the news from the Beijing Motor Show
Automakers go all out at the final auto show of the 2013-14 season while Audi and Mini launch snazzy new navigation apps. Andrew Tolve reports.
In this week’s Brief: Chevrolet, Lexus, Mazda, Weibo, TuneIn, Shanghai OnStar, Harman, Tsinghua University, Geely, Chang’an, Samsung, BMW, Volkswagen, Tata Motors, Pioneer, Apple, Mini and Audi.
With China projected to become the largest premium car market, perhaps as soon as 2016, it’s no wonder the Beijing Motor Show opened last week with so much pomp and circumstance. As just one example of the extravagance on display, Chevrolet coordinated a Transformers-themed Broadway song-and-dance, which used Optimus Prime swinging from a moon on the exhibition ceiling to introduce its Trax compact crossover.
Needless to say, telematics enjoyed a front-row view of the party from many a show vehicle’s dashboard. The new Lexus NX, for example, launched at the show with a wireless charging tray for portable devices (a Lexus first), a new Remote Touch Interface with a touch pad (another Lexus first), a head-up display and a number of ADAS features like a blind spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert.
Mazda unveiled its new Mazda 3 / Axela with MZD Connect, Mazda’s smartphone-based telematics system freshly tuned for the Chinese market. The system is called Mazda Yue Lian in China and is built around a seven-inch touchscreen. Mazda says services will be limited in 2014 to news, weather, TuneIn radio and Chinese social media site Weibo.
Chinese automaker Chang’an launched the new Eado XT hatchback and a pair of new infotainment systems. The first is called InCall 3.0 and provides a full suite of connected services and infotainment offerings enabled through Wi-Fi tethering. The second is a smartphone screen duplication solution similar to MirrorLink.
Shanghai OnStar unveiled a new Traffic On Demand service that provides drivers with driving conditions on main roads, tunnels and bridges around China (currently available in 22 cities). Shanghai OnStar also introduced an updated mobile app and Vehicle Theft Alert, an optional service that contacts drivers by phone call or text the moment the vehicle’s alarm is triggered.
Harman announced a joint auto research lab in conjunction with China’s Tsinghua University. Based in Beijing, the lab will focus on both technical and business considerations of the connected car, as well as ways to make cars more productive, intelligent, immersive and safe. Harman pledged $700,000 as part of a three-year deal to get the lab underway. On another front, Harman also finalized multi-million-dollar deals with Chinese automakers Geely and Chang’an to feature Harman infotainment systems in their cars.
Samsung confirmed that it will roll out an upgraded Drive Link in-car smartphone application this year in the Galaxy S5 and that it’s pushing ahead with a supply deal with several global automakers. According to The Korea Herald, those OEMs are BMW and Volkswagen, although Samsung declined to comment. The tech giant forged a similar supply deal with Tata Motors in India this February.
Outside of Asia, Pioneer followed up its Apple CarPlay media splash from two weeks ago with an announcement that the new service will be ready early this summer. Pioneer will provide CarPlay compatibility via a firmware update to five 2014 Pioneer car electronics products.
On the navigation front, Mini rolled out MINI Connected XL Journey Mate, a new app that supplies individually tailored information to drivers as they advance from point A to B. The system knows drivers’ preferred routes, reminds them when it is time to refuel, messages them about impending appointments or planned telephone calls, reports traffic information in real time, assists in locating parking spaces and directs drivers on foot to their final destinations.
Finally, Audi released MMI connect, an app that allows drivers to search for destinations on their smartphones and send them directly to their cars’ navigation systems. Drivers can also navigate to a picture they’ve taken on their smartphones, as long as that picture is geo-coded. That means a friend at a barbecue can send a picture of a flaming grill, and the app will upload that image to the vehicle and provide turn-by-turn directions until the driver has arrived for his ribs and slaw. Pretty cool.
The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.
Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to Telematics Update.
For all the latest telematics trends, check out Insurance Telematics Europe 2014 on May 6-7 in London, Data Business for Connected Vehicles Japan 2014 on May 14-15 in Tokyo, Telematics India and South Asia 2014 on May 28-29 in Bangalore, India, Insurance Telematics Canada 2014 on May 28-29 in Toronto, Telematics Update Awards 2014 on June 3 in Novi, Michigan, Telematics Detroit 2014 on June 4-5 in Novi, Michigan, Advanced Automotive Safety USA 2014 on July 8-9 in Novi, Michigan, Insurance Telematics USA 2014 on Sept. 3-4 in Chicago, Telematics Japan 2014 in October in Tokyo and Telematics Munich 2014 on Nov. 10-11 in Munich, Germany.
For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports: Insurance Telematics Report 2014, Connected Fleet Report 2014, The Automotive HMI Report 2013 and Telematics Connectivity Strategies Report 2013.