The Potential For Connected Cars in Asia
Governments, businesses and consumers across Asia are preparing themselves for the advent of connected cars. Asia is at the forefront of many technological advances today; connected cars will be no different.
Total revenue in Asia for the connected car sector in 2018 was $5.4 billion. That figure is predicted to climb to more than 11 billion by 2023.
Companies such as Baidu are investing in connected car technology in a meaningful way. The Chinese search engine giant has developed a conversational AI platform for vehicles, which will feature in several domestic and internationally-manufactured cars, including models from Ford, Hyundai and Kia.
Governments across the region are drawing up legislation to accommodate connected cars on their roads. These range from amending traffic regulations to increase safety, as has happened in Singapore and Japan, to setting up a Smart Car Council, as has happened in South Korea. Japan has drawn up specific laws for autonomous vehicle testing, such as the requirement to have a human in the car at all times, approval from the police and clear labelling on the vehicle. Thailand has become a growth area for the production of connected car and automation technology.
The opportunity is significant for Asia to become a global leader in connected car technology, but it will not be easy.
Benefits of connected car take-up in Asia
If Asia can become a global centre for the connected car, it brings opportunities for consumers, governments and business alike.
Traffic is a massive problem in many Asian population centres. According to the navigation company TomTom, Mumbai is the most congested city in the world. New Delhi, Bangkok and Jakarta also feature in the top ten. Anything that can provide a solution will be welcome. In the event of a traffic jam, connected technology inside the vehicle can communicate with a hub, which will tell the driver to take a different route to avoid the congestion. Connected cars can also predict when a car will need repair, which will reduce the number of breakdowns, as well as the congestion they bring.
Connected cars also have the potential to increase safety on the roads in Asia. As well as spotting potentially unsafe cars, so they can be fixed before they cause a big problem, connected car technology can also prevent casualties. For example, if there is a crash, connected car technology can measure the force of the impact and automatically call the emergency services if necessary.
Connected cars will bring environmental benefits, which is especially relevant as countries such as China and India sign-up to ambitious carbon reduction targets. Connected car technology is being integrated into electric as well as fuel-driven vehicles.
Finally, there are benefits for business from the growth of connected cars in Asia. There will be a global market for connected car technology. If Asian manufacturers can leverage their position as world leaders in innovation and manufacturing efficiency to capture the connected car sector, they can reap the rewards.
At Bright Box, we have already entered the Asian market and are strengthening our foothold there. Due to the high demand for connected car technology, there is significant potential for growth.
Challenges to connected car adoption
However, there will be challenges that the Asian connected car industry will need to overcome if it is to achieve critical mass with Asian drivers.
One problem is that Asia is the largest and most populous continent. As well as its size, it is a continent of extremes. There are many different cultures and economic models. There is extreme wealth and exceptional poverty, often in close proximity to each other. Thailand, for example, does not have a well-developed road infrastructure. Urban roads do not always match vehicles’ navigation systems.
This lack of cohesion makes it challenging to implement the kinds of changes needed for new technology, like connected cars, to scale. For the connected car to truly take off in Asia, moving between countries needs to be seamless. There needs to be a common, industry standard specification for connected car technology, as well as the connected infrastructure in the cities and towns.
Security for connected cars is an issue especially relevant to Asian countries. Different countries will have different requirements regarding what happens to the reams of data that connected cars produce. One would imagine that China would want to monitor everything, while other countries will be less demanding. Will countries with less regulation become a haven for hackers?
Finally, Asia is in competition with Western giants to be world leaders in connected car technology. Volkswagen is one of the many household names investing in connected car tech, while Silicon Valley behemoths such as Google, Tesla and Uber are staking big bets on autonomous vehicles. Will companies from the West be allowed to operate in Asia? If so, will they put Asian companies out of business? If not, will Asia always be seen as lagging behind the West when it comes to connected car technology?
This is clearly an exciting time for connected car technology. To become one of the companies that provide connected car technology to the vast population and economies of India and China is an enticing prospect. However, significant challenges need to be overcome for it all to work. Can national governments work together to help make Asia a powerhouse in this sector, or will the Western giants triumph? Either way, Bright Box is positioned to lead the way on providing connected car technology that benefits drivers, passengers and all road users.