Enabling Connected Cars: Securing the Right Regulatory Environment

connected carsClose cooperation between regulators and the private sector is key to the development of the connected-car market in Europe. This was the main outcome of a roundtable on connected cars organised by FTI Consulting and Linklaters LLP on 16 October 2015. The event brought together representatives of the European institutions and the private sector to discuss the challenges and opportunities related to connected cars and the EU regulatory environment.

During the discussion panelists highlighted that a digitally connected car which is able to interact with its surroundings, including other cars, infrastructure and devices, offers multiple applications such as advanced safety features, entertainment and autonomous driving features. Connected cars features can help drivers:

  • anticipate dangers;
  • prevent accidents;
  • optimise driving routes;
  • reduce fuel consumption, and
  • increase energy efficiency.

The development of connected cars solutions is often considered one of the most important growth drivers not only for the automotive industry, but also for other sectors, especially information and communication technologies. Globally, the value of the connected-car market is expected to quadruple between now and 2020, reaching over €115bn. While Europe is well positioned to establish itself among the market leaders, the industry fears that the lack of regulatory clarity could hamper market uptake of connected cars and deprive businesses and consumers of the many benefits this technology offers.

Panelists discussed the question of regulatory framework adaptation that the development of the data-rich environment of connected-car technology inevitably raises,  considering the amount of data collected, processed and transferred, as well as the question of cyber security related to the connectivity and interaction ability of a connected vehicle. The panel also highlighted that development of the connected-car sector is intrinsically linked to infrastructure investments and EU standards. The EU is currently in the process of updating its data protection framework and telecom rules and is laying down ground for its network and information security rules. The route towards a regulatory environment that will guarantee the desired safety and security levels but will also be innovation-friendly seems long. However, the event demonstrated a strong will from both regulators and the private sector alike to work hand in hand.

Regulators and private sector representatives recognised the importance of partnership and cooperation. Antonio Amendola, Executive Director International External Affairs at AT&T, made the case for such partnership compellingly: “The Internet of Things (IoT) is on a trajectory of exponential and unparalleled growth – growth that could be truly transformative and bring profound social benefit. Government and industry must work together to create flexible, future-focused policies that promote the necessary enormous investment to ensure the IoT delivers its potential for economic and social development in all countries”.

Connected cars promise to revolutionise our approach to mobility, especially in terms of safety. A fit-for-purpose regulatory environment should ensure that this promise materialises for the benefits of businesses and consumers.

Miroslav Pospisil is a Senior Consultant at FTI Consulting Brussels.

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