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Car Telematics Subscribers to Reach 158.9M by 2020

According to the latest market study by Berg Insight, shipments of OEM embedded telematics systems worldwide are forecast to grow from 8.4 million units in 2013 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30.6 percent to reach 54.5 million units in 2020.

Moreover, the number of cars sold worldwide equipped with head-units featuring handset-based telematics capabilities will grow from 7.0 million in 2013 to 68.5 million in 2020.

Telematics is a broad term that may be applied to a wide range of connected services in the automotive industry. The basic definition of automobile telematics is an automatic system designed for passenger cars that incorporates some form of cellular communication.

Automotive manufacturers can choose between several connectivity options when creating connected car services, which are not mutually exclusive. The main options today are embedded telematics devices, tethered handsets and integrated smartphones.

Car manufacturers often use a combination of these options to support different customer needs and keep pace with the rapid development of mobile technology. Connected car services are gaining momentum globally after many years of development and gradual rollout.

According the Berg, the drivers behind adoption of telematics systems among car manufacturers are both commercial and regulatory. Safety regulations that aim to make automatic emergency calls with vehicle location mandatory in all new cars are for instance being adopted in the EU and Russia with the eCall and ERA-GLONASS initiatives respectively.

In other markets such as North America and Japan, commercial services have driven adoption of OEM telematics services that have evolved from being a differentiator to a mainstream feature offered by most car brands.

Several categories of connected car services are now offered by leading car manufacturers. Examples include emergency call and roadside assistance, stolen vehicle tracking (SVT), vehicle diagnostics, connected navigation and infotainment, as well as convenience applications.

Convenience applications for instance include remote control of vehicle functions such as door lock/unlock and air conditioning, vehicle status and finding the last parking position. Several other applications also exist, for instance usage-based insurance, leasing and rental fleet management, as well as electronic toll collection and road charging.

Most telematics services can be supported by any connectivity type, although embedded connectivity is the most suitable option for applications including emergency call, SVT and convenience applications.

There are many business rationales for car telematics, ranging from monetary savings for the car owner in the case of SVT and usage-based insurance, to product differentiation, improved customer relationship management, potentially lower costs of product recalls and soft value creation for the car OEM.

Berg Insight forecasts that the number of telematics service subscribers using embedded systems will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 38.1 percent from 16.6 million subscribers in 2013 to 158.9 million subscribers in 2020.

"A key factor that influences the growth in active subscribers is the length of the free trial period included in the price of new cars," said André Malm, senior analyst at Berg Insight.

Renewal rates for telematics subscriptions after the free period expires are presently relatively low. However, car brands are now launching cloud-based telematics services that facilitate customization of service packages to better meet the needs of individual customers. Several car manufacturers have app stores that enable car owners to download apps directly to the infotainment system of the car.

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