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Japan, U.S. take the lead on car telematics

Posted: 09 Apr 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:telematics  automotive  wireless communications  Bluetooth 

In Japan, sales of mini and compact cars are higher than those of mid-size sedans. According to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association, total sales of mini cars, the largest car category in the country, amounted to more than 16.00 lakh (1.6 million) in 2009. In order to expand telematics, services must be offered to such a segment. Indeed, it is telling that mobile-phone-based telematics services have the highest availability of 41.1 per cent for low-end vehicles priced at less than Rs.9.24 lakh ($20,000), compared to 36.4 per cent for the mid-range—from Rs.9.24 lakh ($20,000) to Rs.18.47 lakh ($40,000)—and 7.5 per cent for the high-end models—more than Rs.18.47 lakh ($40,000)—for 2010, according to iSuppli's Infotainment Technology Availability Calculator.

Penetrating luxury carsThe reason why high-end vehicles score the lowest in mobile-phone-based telematics service is pretty simple.

Imported luxury brands, such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, have not yet introduced any telematics services in Japan. Only the Lexus brand provides an embedded telematics service, G-Link, which launched in 2005. Users can avail of the service for free during the first three years—after which the service costs 17,000 yen every year.

Overall, the Japanese market has proven unique in that it offers a developed mobile phone-based telematics system and that greater telematics availability can be seen in lower-end models. Given that the first version of the G-Book was launched on the Will Cypha compact—a lower-priced Toyota model in 2002, with the hardware included as a standard feature—one could argue that the launch of telematics came from lower-end models.

With the pending launch of Nissan's EV Leaf in the near future, it will be interesting to see what new features will be launched and how the embedded telematics landscape evolves in Japan.

For more statistics and forecasts, click here.

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