CES: Chevrolet to Offer 4G-LTE Connectivity Throughout Product Line
LAS VEGAS – The convergence of high-speed wireless technology with cars' infotainment systems is one of the big stories at the 2014 International CES. An unprecedented nine automakers are participating in the show, underscoring the importance of the connected car as a growth market for both carmakers and third-party suppliers of wireless technology.
Consumers increasingly consider connectivity when purchasing new cars, say industry experts. "Making it easier to connect the in-car life with the out-of-car life -- anything that makes that more seamless is a huge deal," Mark Wakefield, an automotive analyst with AlixParnters, told The Hollywood Reporter during the Los Angeles Auto Show. "People are actually buying cars based on these capabilities."
Chevrolet became the latest carmaker to embrace the trend, announcing at CES that the 2015 Corvette, Impala, Malibu and Volt models will be equipped with optional 4G LTE connectivity, the same high-speed connection used by the latest smartphones and tablets. Most of the Chevrolet roster will have built-in connectivity by year's end, said Alan Batey, executive vp for the brand, "the largest selection of cars available with built-in 4G LTE, from our smallest car, the Spark, right through to the Corvette Stingray." Speaking at a press conference, Batey added that, by offering 4G-LTE connectivity throughout the Chevrolet line, the technology, which has already debuted in the Audi A3, "isn't just for the rich and famous. It opens up a world of incredible personalized opportunities."
A 4G-LTE connection turns a car into a mobile WiFi hotspot and makes possible steaming high-definition video to multiple devices. Chevrolet claims that building the technology directly into the car provides a faster and more robust connection.
Chevrolet also announced an app store, the AppShop, accessible through a dashboard touch screen. Drivers and passengers can download apps directly into the car's infotainment system that run diagonistics on the car's systems. Apps from The Weather Channel, NPR, Priceline.com and other third-party sources can also be download directly to the car's computer. The experience is meant to mimic that of interacting with a smartphone or tablet, said Batey. "Just like your smartphone, you have the opportunity to customize your car."
Also at CES, technology companies announced partnerships with carmakers to provide connectivity and wireless content. Peugeot said that it had selected Technicolor's Qeo communications system to coordinate communications between a consumer's smartphones and tablets and the Peugeot's infotainment system. It also allows the car to communicate with Qeo-enabled devices in the home -- heating or air conditioning could be programmed to turn on automatically when it sensed the car nearing home.
Communications technology company Ericsson announced a partnership with AT&T to provide wireless connectivity for Ericsson's Connected Vehicle cloud. The partnership is indicative of the growing number of cloud-based partnerships to stream entertainment and apps directly to a car's built-in computer and touch screen. At CES, Audi is expected to announce a partnership with Google to use its Android operating system in the automaker's connected car systems.