BMW tops new connected-cars ranking: Machina Research

Germany’s BMW has come first in a new ranking of carmakers that measures their approach to connectivity, with GM, Ford, Audi and Chrysler rounding out the top five.

According to analyst firm Machina Research, BMW (Munich, Germany) has the most “complete” approach to in-car connectivity through its ConnectedDrive service, while GM (Detroit, MI, USA) – which comes second in the ranking – has been “something of a trailblazer with OnStar”.

Ford comes third thanks to its scale and growing focus on developing an embedded offering, while the sophistication and maturity of offerings from Audi (Ingolstadt, Germany) and Chrysler (Auburn Hills, MI, USA) sees them placed fourth and fifth respectively.

Sponsored by Vodafone (Newbury, UK), the study examined a variety of factors, including which in-car services are available, the openness of the system to developers, and the overarching purpose of the connectivity.

According to Machina, both Mercedes Benz (Stuttgart, Germany) and Tesla (Palo Alto, CA, USA) lack the volume of sales to feature at the top of the ranking, even though connected-car services figure more prominently in their strategies than in those of other manufacturers.

The analyst firm also believes the next two years will see rocketing adoption of services as carmakers start including mobile connections in an increasing number of new vehicles.

That will see drivers benefit from services such as connected navigation, music streaming and in-car WiFi.

Vodafone, for instance, has recently concluded an agreement with Volkswagen (Wolfsburg, Germany) in Europe to provide automotive connectivity, starting with new Audi models from 2015.

“Consumer interest in connected car applications is growing all the time and is set to revolutionize the way we use our cars – introducing a host of innovative new services,” said Erik Brenneis, Vodafone’s M2M director. “These will range from the predictable, but nonetheless significant, such as full in-car diagnostics systems which detect and diagnose any potential problem before it happens – to the futuristic – allowing drivers to check the status of their home appliances and to switch them off or on.”

Matt Hatton, a director at Machina Research, described the emergence of the connected car as a hugely important development for both mobile and automotive industries.

“For mobile companies it is a tremendous new opportunity for connecting another smart device,” he said. “For automotive manufacturers it provides a new differentiator, an additional revenue opportunity, and creates a channel to build a stronger ongoing relationship with drivers.”