Message from the Secretary General – December 2014

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, ACEA, is proud to announce its #ConnectedCar conference, taking place this week in Brussels.

Connected vehicles are able to communicate with each other, the infrastructure, users or third-parties in order to provide, in a safe manner, information and services. The purpose is to improve safety, comfort and environmental performance, for a better mobility experience.

Automotive connectivity ranges from driver and passenger-focused “infotainment”, such as internet and email access, to vehicle-to-infrastructure systems that are ‘hidden’ from the driver but that help the vehicle communicate with infrastructure. Connected cars will be able to work out where traffic jams are so as to avoid them, then will be able to look out for parking, and they will be able to communicate with each other to avoid accidents.

It is quite clear that customers want connected cars. According to a McKinsey study, the number of cars with some sort of networking ability is around 8% today. This is set to rise by 30% per year until 2020, when some 20-25% of cars will be ‘online’.

Automotive connectivity also serves as a useful test-case for the development of the rules needed to govern advanced integrated mobility. It is important to maintain the integrity of the vehicle and guarantee its safe and secure functioning under all circumstances. This is crucial not only for the installation of applications, but also when third parties communicate and exchange data with connected cars. Rules need to be established to determine how that can be done safely and securely and to determine who is liable when something goes wrong.

Connectivity means exchange of data. Therefore, protection of personal data is another issue that car manufacturers – and anyone else who accesses or processes data that the vehicle has collected - will need to take very seriously.

Finally, there is the risk of hacking, as the ability for vehicles to be connected to opens the prospect of malicious third parties accessing vehicle systems remotely.

We’ll be discussing all of these opportunities and challenges at our #ConnectedCar: Safe, Clean, Secure event on 4 December in Brussels. There’s more information on www.acea.be, and I look forward to welcoming you there.

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This week the European Council will meet in its Competitiveness configuration. The Council is expected to approve conclusions with the preparation of a roadmap for dealing with challenges and opportunities of the European industry.

ACEA will use this opportunity to emphasise the need for this roadmap to genuinely support European industry. ACEA welcomes the fact that political leaders recognise the contribution of industry to EU growth, and ACEA fully supports the aim for industry to contribute 20% of GDP by 2020.

ACEA has a number of priorities that it has highlighted previously in its Manifesto for a Competitive European Automobile Industry, and which it will be raising again on the eve of the Competitiveness Council. These are:

Drive innovation

The automobile industry invests €32.3 billion annually in R&D. Helping the industry leverage this R&D investment through Horizon 2020 is just one route via which the fruits of research and innovation can be rolled out to European consumers and transport operators in the form of cleaner, safer and more connected vehicles. We also need member states to start investing in the needed recharging infrastructure to make alternative fuel vehicles attractive to customers.

Foster growth through international trade

With a net trade balance of €95 billion – nearly twice the total trade surplus experienced by the EU in 2013 – the automobile industry puts Europe firmly on the global map. The world vehicle market is on the rise, so open trade is crucial for the further growth of the EU automotive industry. To maximise on this, we must have a trade policy that is balanced, providing real opportunities for export.

Build a supportive regulatory framework

With a regulatory framework consisting of around 80 EU Directives and over 70 international UN Regulations, the automotive industry is one of the most regulated sectors in Europe. While the industry is committed to actively promoting sustainable mobility, strong support by policy makers through a balanced regulatory framework is needed to maintain its leading position in the global marketplace.

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