‘Connected Car’ Technology Will Revolutionize Parking
Buying a car is no longer simply about horsepower and miles per gallon. More and more consumers are making their car purchases based on the “connected technology” that car manufacturers offer, with an emphasis on infotainment features that make driving safer, more efficient and easier to use.
Today’s trends in auto technology are taking us to a future that will transform not only how we get from point A to point B, but also the way people park.
Imagine a future where your car can find, reserve and pay for an open parking spot for you. Drivers will no longer be navigated to the address of their destination, but directed to the best open parking spot around the corner.
What’s a ‘Connected’ Car?
The ‘connected’ car, not to be confused with the self-driving, autonomous car, is defined as any vehicle equipped with Internet access that allows data to be sent to and from the vehicle. It's estimated that, by 2020, 75% of cars shipped globally will be built with the necessary hardware to connect to the Internet and that connected car services will account for more than $40 billion in revenue. This means that the auto industry is going through a massive shift to bring technology and connected services to the forefront of the driving experience.
Automakers are scrambling to find new applications and content based around this newfound connected capability. Connected cars enable a wide variety of applications that include everything from real-time traffic data and accident reports, to streaming music and finding the nearest gas station.
One of the most in-demand connected car services is parking information. Auto companies now realize that, rather than navigating drivers to the front door of their destination, they can send them to the best nearby parking spot. This provides a whole new world of opportunity for drivers, automakers and the parking industry.
The First Connected Cars
The first connected car was the Ford SYNC with the TDI (Traffic, Direction and Information) app, which launched in 2009. To work, this early model had to be paired with a mobile device that offered Internet connectivity.
The next major upgrade came in 2012, when Tesla launched its Model S, which offered built-in 3G LTE Internet connectivity and included several apps to enhance the driving experience. These Teslas can communicate with the company’s Supercharger network and, if fully equipped, can achieve semi-autonomous driving.
Audi released the next big technological upgrade in its 2013 A3 model, and became the first 4G LTE connected car in the U.S. This faster Internet speed opened the doors to a whole new world of possibilities for connected car content.
In 2015, some 10 million connected cars were manufactured, and that number is expected to be 69 million by 2020. Experts predict that, by then, nearly 1 car in 5 worldwide will have wireless Internet capabilities, which amounts to more than 250 million connected cars on the road.
With the consumer desire for connected cars growing, manufacturers are ramping up their production and working quickly to offer connected features, while also differentiating their product. GM launched the Chevy Malibu 2015 model as its first connected car in 2014, and since has offered 4G LTE in all of its cars. Volvo began offering 4G LTE in all of its cars in summer 2014.
In the past two years, partnerships between car companies and tech giants have emerged, and continue to expand the capabilities of connected cars.
Google has a partnership with 28 automakers, including GM, Honda and Hyundai, that will use its Android Auto, the Android operating system in cars. Apple is working with several automakers, including BMW, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan, to bring its iOS operating system into those cars as Apple CarPlay.
Although Apple CarPlay will feature fewer apps than Android Auto, it will have many of the same features, including maps, music, messaging, and Siri in the infotainment system that will connect to the driver’s iPhone. (CarPlay in-dash systems will also be compatible with Google Android phones.)
Connected Car Parking Solutions
Many connected cars already offer parking information in their navigation systems, but this content is currently limited to what is called static off-street parking data. This is parking information that doesn’t change without a software update. A few examples of static data include lot location, entrance points, rates and hours of operation. Some cars on the market that currently offer static off-street parking information include Audi, Volkswagen, Lexus and Jaguar.
Dynamic ‘Real-Time’ Parking Information
The next big parking trend for connected cars is dynamic real-time parking information that refers to current occupancy levels. Automakers want to be able to guide drivers to open parking lots and meters, and are working with companies such as INRIX and its ParkMe unit to equip their cars with this complex information. This is accomplished by aggregating a plethora of data from existing infrastructure, analyzing historical occupancy data, and even collecting data directly from the cars themselves.
The first on-street, real-time parking solution, powered by INRIX, will be launched by BMW later this year. Initially available in Seattle; San Francisco; Vancouver, Canada; Amsterdam; Cologne; and Copenhagen, the service will expand to cover 53 cities by the end of the year.
The final piece of the parking puzzle for connected cars is transactions. Automakers are working to create a seamless, end-to-end parking solution that lets drivers pay for parking with the tap of a button. This includes working with parking payment companies, reservation providers, and third-party payment aggregators to present drivers with a universal parking payment solution.
Parking Industry Collaboration
The parking industry has traditionally been fragmented, proprietary and non-collaborative. Working together and creating a set of standards in the industry can tremendously improve the parking experience for drivers and provide more value for automakers.
ParkMe, for example, is working to align the industry to improve the overall parking experience for drivers worldwide. This can be achieved, we believe, by connecting all the parking components to create a standardized, technologically advanced, end-to-end parking experience.
By integrating with payment providers, parking equipment makers and parking operators, ParkMe will be bringing the world of parking into car navigation systems around the globe. Together, we can be at the forefront of the connected car revolution to bring the parking industry into the 21st century.
Contact Mark Braibanti, Director of Marketing & Business Development at ParkMe, at firstname.lastname@example.org.