Previous years' Connected Car Expo (CCE) – a conference and expo for auto industry professionals centered around connected cars – were held in a small section of the LA Convention Center alongside the Los Angeles Auto Show. This year, however, the CCE needed more room, forcing a move to the adjacent JW Marriott at LA Live and its expansive conference-ready ballrooms.
Clearly, the concept of the connected car is highly important to the auto industry, yet a very prevalent focus at this year's CCE revolved around the fact that nobody really knows exactly what a connected car is—including the people making these cars.
With all signs pointing to all cars eventually being connected, the industry needs to understand what exactly a connected car is so it can better understand what the consumer wants, and help the consumers themselves better understand what they want.
The current problem is that definitions of the connected car are either too specific or too broad. In other words, it's hard to sell people on something when nobody can really articulate what it is.
So, What Is a Connected Car?
Connected cars can – at least for now – be defined by having one or more of the following features:
- Internet connection.
- Autonomous/semi-autonomous (self-driving).
- Telematics (vehicle tracking, GPS).
These features are becoming more and more available (even standard in several basic models).
Why Is the Connected Car So Important?
When asked about the disconnect between the industry's view on the importance of connected cars and the consumers' views, JD Power's Kristine Kolodge was quick to acknowledge that connected cars are not undesirable, they are just not understood.
The sentiment felt throughout the day at the LA Auto Show is that the consumers do care about their cars being connected—even if all the research shows that it's really safety that car buyers care about. Of course, it is understandable—after all, the prevalence of smartphones and tablets indicates that consumers do seem to want to be connected at all times.
The moral of the story was this: If the consumer was given the tools and information to understand what the connected car actually is, they could then understand whether they truly want or need one for themselves.