Car Data: The Secret Ingredient in Software Defined Vehicle Development

Car Data
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Building a car is never easy. Components, chassis, and prototypes all need to be created and honed before manufacturers can even think about delivering it to the public.

Then comes the matter of performance. Chasing numbers – whether they be 0-100 kph times or fuel efficiency and range – is all well and good but it’s unlikely that any driver will ever achieve the figures claimed by the manufacturer. What’s more, it’s doubtful that these numbers are even useful. How many times has a car with a 200-mile range actually travelled 200 miles? Most drivers will likely stop to grab a coffee and use the bathroom around 100 miles into a  journey.

Instead, car manufacturers would do well to learn from tech companies – gathering data about how real people use their products and using this information to make a decision about what their next product needs to do. Of course, many already are.

Here’s an example. Two of Volkswagen’s hatchbacks, the all-electric ID.3 and the decidedly unelectric Golf GTI, get from 0-50 kph within 0.2-seconds of each other. The Golf, meanwhile, manages to hit 100 kph an entire second faster than the ID.3. But when was the last time you, or anyone for that matter, actually went from 0-60 on the public road?

The 0-50 kph time is far more useful for most drivers when they’re looking to overtake a bus, for instance, away from the lights, or sneak across a roundabout.

How to Find the Data

The same extends to infotainment. Manufacturers can offer Apple Car Play, Android Auto, Digital Radio, and Aux ports but they have no way of knowing which services and features drivers are actually using. If, perhaps, it transpired that no drivers were using Android Auto, would it make sense for the manufacturer to keep offering the service?

The difficulty for manufacturers is in gathering the data. While many cars have telematics boxes to report back information about the car’s general health and how it’s being driven, there has been precious little insight into how everything else in the car is being used.

However, for the first time manufacturers can access complete visibility over data usage split across the services their connected vehicles offer, with Cubic Telecom’s PLXOR solution. PLXOR is a network function virtualization which offers granular car data insights by splitting data usage out visually for the car manufacturer by content service or application type, e.g. infotainment, navigation, telemetry. PLXOR shows how services such as Google Maps or AccuWeather are being used across global fleets.

The car data can present how demand varies across different demographics, aligned to choice of make and model of car. With PLXOR, the manufacturer knows what features to push onto which vehicles, thereby boosting the lifecycle value.

Using this data, manufacturers can fine tune and tweak the service offering by looking at how drivers use the systems, ultimately optimizing the driver experience. This level of visibility can inform the manufacturers’ future partnership choices with content providers, business models, and overarching strategy for in-car services.

Furthermore, collecting car data at scale is absolutely essential. You can’t develop a new car with one or two examples of customer behaviour. Fortunately, PLXOR can help to visualise data taken from the entire fleet, making it easy to digest the reams of data that the manufacturer encounters.

Monetizing connected data

Why Vehicle Data is the Hidden Tool in Development

Once the vehicle data has been gathered and analysed, manufacturers will need to put everything they’ve learnt into action.

By understanding all of these insights at scale, manufacturers will be able to create cars that perfectly fit the needs of users. Perhaps in future, development decisions could be taken without the need for extended user testing and evaluation because manufacturers already have the data to prove that customers want these features.

In the same way that Volkswagen was able to adapt the ID.3 to accelerate quickly in order to work well in traffic, manufacturers that utilise cabin data will be able to make a car that works intuitively for users.

Small improvements and optimisations like these might seem incidental but, for drivers, they are the kind of everyday interactions that, if handled correctly, could lead to a repeat purchase.

To learn more about Cubic’s data insights products, download our latest eBook ‘Transforming Carmakers Into Powerful Data-Driven Businesses’

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