Vodafone signs connected car deals with VW and Audi

As the movement for operators to provide in-car connectivity continues to gain momentum, operator group Vodafone has announced a deal with Volkswagen and Audi in Europe to provide connectivity in vehicles, starting with new Audi models from 2015.

Under the terms of the deal, Vodafone will supply an embedded SIM to both Volkswagen and Audi; which is 99.55 per cent owned by the Volkswagen group. The SIM is developed specifically for the automotive sector and will function reliably at temperatures between -40°C to 85°C, the operator group added.

The global SIM will be widely installed in vehicles, said Vodafone, and will use the operator’s network and global M2M service platform to provide customers with high-speed mobile broadband access while on the road. The activation and service processes were designed by Vodafone and based on Volkswagen Group’s specific requirements, the operator added.

“As a result of this agreement, we will strengthen further our position in the automotive sector – one of the key markets for M2M communication,” said Erik Brenneis, chief executive of Vodafone M2M. “Our efficient mobile communications networks ensure that the networked car is becoming more and more widespread, including across European national borders.”

Audi’s connected car portfolio currently includes in-car navigation, communications and infotainment services together with a WLAN Hotspot.

The firm said it became the first to integrate a 4G-capable infotainment system in its commercial vehicles with the launch of the Audi S3 in 2013. The enables Vodafone customers to benefit from access to the Vodafone 4G network in their vehicles, the operator added.

Vodafone noted that a key reason for its investment in the connected car space in Europe is due to the planned EU-wide “eCall” emergency call system from cars. The EU is pushing to mandate the system, which automatically sends an emergency SOS over cellular networks to emergency services, in the event of an accident.

The operator group added that it has seen an increasing number of people interested in accessing online information services, music and videos through in-car services.

Last week saw a range of connected car initiatives launched by both operators and device makers. US operator Sprint launched a connected car offering for automotive insurance companies. The IMS UBI Intelligence tool offers insurers a way to accurately determine a driver’s policy premium based on their driving behaviour. Meanwhile, rival AT&T revealed plans to develop an in-vehicle video service as part of its connected car offering, following on from the opening of a connected car centre in Atlanta in January.

And iPhone maker Apple revealed that Apple CarPlay will be available on select new cars in 2014. The firm claims it will be a smarter and safer way for consumers to use their iPhone in the car.

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