Infotainment to Explode (Not Literally)

Gary S. Vasilash

There is evidentially an insatiable desire for more and more in-car infotainment, despite the fact that there are systems that have caused OEMs to take it on the chin when it comes to consumer reports and ratings (think: Ford). The evidence of this desire comes from ABI Research, which predicts that shipments of automotive infotainment systems will grow to more than 62-million units by 2018 from 9-million units in 2013.

Can’t get enough of the connected navigation, multimedia streaming, social media, and in-car WiFi, apparently.

One analog to the smart phone phenomenon is that ABI Research is finding increasing interest in the Android operating system, as well as HTML5.

Renault RLink

Patrick CURTET/Publicis Events France

The Renault R-Link system is based on a seven-inch touchscreen. There are six main functions (navigation, telephone, multimedia, vehicle-related services, applications, and system settings) and an array of applications ranging from Twitter to Sudoku. The option, available on six models, starts at €590 (approximately $770); it is standard on the ZOE, the Renault electric vehicle.

Dominique Bonte, ABI Research VP and practice director, observes, “Open platforms continue their march forward. While both the GENIVI consortium [open source common automotive infotainment reference platform] and the Car Connectivity Consortium [MirrorLink screen replication technology] somewhat struggle to find momentum, the car industry is now turning its attention to HTML5 and Android with both Renault [R-Link] and Volvo [Sensus Connected Touch platform based on Parrot’s Asteroid Smart]

Not only is this functionality entirely about keeping up with Facebook feeds and the like. According to ABI, OEMs are finding that there is benefit from the standpoint of post-sales apps that can keep the vehicles more software-relevant.

ABI also says that 4G is going to be the “connectivity technology of the future.” Which is somewhat interesting given that in the phone field, there are countless numbers of people both with and without licenses who are connected day and night, whether they’re on foot or behind the wheel, with 4G. The future?