Member States should speed up efforts on eCall

Automakers were among the very first to sign the Memorandum of Understanding for eCall, the system where a vehicle automatically alerts emergency services to the location of an accident.

Automakers were among the very first to sign the Memorandum of Understanding for eCall, the system where a vehicle automatically alerts emergency services to the location of an accident.

eCall is a clear example of how different stakeholders must work towards the same objective in a coordinated way. It makes no sense, for example, to have eCall functionality in a vehicle when there is no infrastructure available to answer a distress call. From the outset, automakers have stressed the active role that Member States, emergency service providers and other stakeholders, like mobile network providers, play.

Delays outside the control of the industry mean that standardisation will probably only be finalised now by end of 2010. It will then be up to Member States to start the process of upgrading the necessary emergency service infrastructure to deliver the eCall concept. In the meantime, 20 Member States have committed to introduce a public eCall but currently only a few Member States will get involved in a large three-year Field Operational Test foreseen to start in November 2010.

The European Automobile Industry supports the call by the European Commission on Member States to speed up their efforts on eCall. In this context, the industry also supports the ITS Action Plan and the final adoption of the ITS Directive on 6 August 2010, in which eCall standardisation is a key element.

For the industry it is important to get a lead-time of at least three years after all standards have been finally fixed as developing new vehicles takes many years to accomplish. Furthermore, open legal (data protection, privacy, liability) and commercial issues have still to be solved prior to implementation. Only then, eCall functionality can be effectively offered for all new type-approved vehicles.

When standardisation is achieved, carmakers do not necessarily see a need for a regulation on eCall as this will probably lead to higher cost and further delays.

In parallel to the efforts made for public eCall, the industry continues to introduce the "Third Party eCall Support Service"; a private service provider based emergency service, and has already equipped more than a million vehicles with such systems. The Commission has accepted this initiative, as equivalent to the public efforts and in the event of regulation should continue equally both public eCall and Third Party eCall.

 

This article was first published and last updated on 09/09/2010

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