Connecting cars to ecosystems is our priority Renault’s Benoit Joly tells Paul Myles. [Tele.Myles.2016.09.30]

Connected cars must go beyond being passive devices in IoT and become an integral part of transport ‘ecosystems’ says French manufacturer Renault.

Speaking exclusively to TU-Automotive, its chief sales and marketing officer connected cars and mobility, Benoit Joly, said this is the main mission engaging the manufacturer’s connectivity efforts right now.

He said: “With R-Link we already have a high level of connectivity but, for us, we now want to take a more strategic approach.

“We are working with the Renault-Nissan Alliance to build the cloud platform that we enable us to develop new services that connect to the car, which is why we have partnered with Microsoft to create this platform. Then they will provide the cloud ‘bricks’ to connect to the car to make use of its data. Once we have this data in the cloud we can create a lot of new services. Obviously, this will link with our existing services and also to eCall but also so things that can be more entertainment driven, etc.”

The next set is to integrate the vehicles into a network of connectivity that could release the technologies full potential, Joly added. He explained: “Now the big play will be when that can be bundled with an ecosystem because, let’s face it, you’re not alone in the car anymore and will want to connect to a broad ecosystem too.

“This is something very new that we want Renault to be part of an ecosystem and to drive it forward into a smart city ecosystem. That’s because, ultimately, we can bring added value to the consumer. With this in mind, we have approached partners like Waze asking how can we work together? That’s because we both share the same values of ensuring an easy life for our customers by bringing into the car an intelligent driving companion. We want to develop an integrated driving experience that enhances a customer’s life.”

Joly said the importance of providing added value to consumers places this connectivity at the top of a modern carmaker’s list of priorities.

He added: “Connectivity is the baseline in this process so from there we have to ask just how much can you do with this connectivity? What are the services, what are the experiences we can bring? We are very convinced that we can offer a choice to customers of embedded navigation versus the web or internet based navigation to allow them to use the system they prefer. It’s about building something that is more integrates, more experienced based to benefit the consumer.”

Whatever added services a carmaker can provide, they must mesh with the existing digital lives we all now possess, said Joly. “There is no doubt that the car is now part of a digital lives and the car’s digital screen is capable of being all your screen sets whether it be TV or smartphone or tablet,” he said. “So how do your ensure that the services that play on these different devices can play on one screen? This is what connectivity can bring to the car.”

Naturally, Renault hopes to be able to develop and build from its knowledge gained from its current connectivity offerings. Joly explained: “Already in R-Link you have defined profiles and you can select your seat preference, your radio preset, etc. We are already profiling a lot of experience on the digital media and we will go further along that route and are working on how we can bring an individualist profile into the user’s car.”

With so many new partnerships being forged in this area, does Joly anticipate joint venture with new players currently outside the automotive industry? He agreed it is possible but with important caveats. Joly concluded: “This technology could bring outside players into the car space but, at Renault, we are very careful over safety and we are conscious that what you do in your car should be linked to what you use the car for.

“Technically you can do emails and social media in your car but not while driving which is why you cannot import all of your digital life but can, maybe, extend and enhance it.”