Suppliers push automakers to take V2V lead


Even though a proposed federal mandate to enable cars with vehicle-to-vehicle tech- nology has stalled, industry experts say the tech could help automakers reap the rewards of wide-scale data collection.

Self-driving vehicles are expected to be a boon to data collection, using sensors and cloud connections to feed data about traffic and unexpected obstacles to other vehicles on the road.

The industry doesn’t need to wait for self-driving vehicles to tap into that data stream; it could use V2V tech that is market ready.

But without the proposed federal mandate, which stalled in 2017 under the Trump administration, automakers have been slow to adopt it.

Suppliers say automakers should take the lead on V2V technology even without the mandate.

“V2V data, when we learn how to extract and utilize it in real time, can be extremely helpful,” said Kristin Schondorf, global automotive and transportation mobility leader at EY. “We can take that data to understand patterns of what’s happening, then leverage that information to help us become more efficient in how we travel.”

Data benefits

The major selling point for V2V as a data collection tool had been to meet the proposed federal mandate. The proposal has yet to disappear, but it is unlikely the Trump administration, which has been dismantling many business regulations, will force the industry to add V2V technology to vehicles.

Delphi Technologies, the powertrain and propulsion arm spun off from supplier Delphi Automotive, says V2V could have a major impact on fuel efficiency. When paired with cloud connectivity and a hybrid powertrain, V2V could increase fuel efficiency 10 percent by predicting how a vehicle’s fuel needs will change during a trip.

“We could see not just around us, but maybe miles ahead based on where this vehicle is going,” said Mary Gustanski, chief technology officer at Delphi Technologies. “We could determine what kind of fuel we really need and we could adjust the engine management system and how you use your electrification.”

Phil Ventimiglia, a product manager at supplier Robert Bosch’s car multimedia division, said V2V increases the precision of traffic data collected and used by cellular connections, and could greatly relieve congestion.

Such benefits are further increased when married with connected infrastructure, he added.

“The level of granularity you can see will help improve traffic data immensely,” Ventimiglia said. “All these things where you’re kind of guessing today, with V2V and [vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity], that information will be presented to the driver and increase comfort.”

Local governments could also improve day-to-day operations with V2V. Avery Ash, autonomous vehicle market strategist at traffic data supplier Inrix, said data collected by connected vehicles could help officials identify and address problems such as potholes, damaged trees or overly full garbage cans in real time.

Technology roadblocks

Despite V2V’s advantages, experts say obstacles remain before the technology is widely used. The biggest: cost.

“Right now, it’s a tough business case,” Schondorf said. “It could significantly increase the cost of the vehicle.”

But if used in a fleet such as a rental or ride-hailing service, it could cut costs for consumers while still reaping the data benefits of mass adoption, she said.

To get the best results from V2V, vehicles from different automakers will have to be able to communicate with each other, said Brad Gottschalk, an analyst at IHS Markit. Cadillac vehicles are V2V-enabled, but can only communicate with other Cadillacs. Gottschalk said the industry will have to agree on standards that will ensure vehicles will be able to connect with each other.

“Standards will be most important,” he said. “All OEMs have been working in silos when it comes to that.”

Without a federal mandate, V2V could end up being a good technology that came at the wrong time. Once autonomous or semiautonomous vehicles hit the road, their high-powered sensors and cloud and infrastructure could render many V2V benefits redundant.

“A lot of automakers are going off the assumption they’re not going to need elaborate V2V,” said Mark Wakefield, global co-head of automotive and industrial at consultancy AlixPartners. “The first autonomous retail cars won’t need to rely on V2V for functionality.”

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