Why AT&T Drives Connected Cars: Tesla, BMW, Nissan, Audi, Chevy, Buick, GMC & Honda to Connected Cities

The Internet of Things (IoT) is coming to connected cars through AT&T technology and partnerships, making the company a leading provider of services for automakers and suppliers. AT&T’s dominance in the connected car marketplace positions the company as leader of IoT services for connected homes and eventually connected smart cities.

AT&T opened the AT&T Connected Drive Studio in Atlanta, Georgia, where it works with automakers and developers. At the studio, they created a Samsung smartphone app for remote car features including remote start, door lock/unlock and remote climate control.
Connected cars are more than just keyfobs for AT&T but a tool for content personalization.

“4G LTE connectivity  enables over-the-air (OTA) software updates, therefore car-owners save time because they don’t have to go to the dealer for upgrades,” said Joe Mosele, vice president of IoT at AT&T.

Besides connectivity including international SIMs, AT&T helps automakers with software development and modular solutions. The carrier was instrumental in bringing connected car services to early electric cars to enable the ability check the charging status of the batteries in the cars.

In fact, AT&T has relationships with twenty-two top global car and long-haul truck brands including Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, Freightliner, FCA US, GMC, Honda, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Nissan, Opel, Porsche, Subaru, Tesla, Vauxhalll, Volvo and Volkswagen. AT&T emerged into the connected car wireless space with automakers in  2008 with BMW.

2008 BMW

Let’s look at AT&T’s long history with connected cars. Starting with BMW in January 2008 powering BMW’s ConnectedDrive services and apps in all models in North America and Canada since 2008.  In January 2016, AT&T announced an extended contract to bring high speed internet to BMW vehicles in North America. AT&T also will connects BMW infotainment features such as a Wi-Fi hot spot.

2010 Nissan & Infiniti

In July 2010, AT&T announced it was it would provide the wireless 2G connection forthe Nissan LEAF CARWINGS telematics system. Then in July 2013, through an agreement with SiriusXM, AT&T announced that it will provide mobile connectivity supporting a suite of security and infotainment services for Nissan automobiles in North America.In May 2016, we announced that we are providing connectivity to Infiniti cars, also through SiriusXM.

2011 Ford

Starting in March 201w, Ford Motor Company connected to AT&T’s wireless network to connect the Ford Focus Electric, Ford’s first all-electric passenger car, enabling Focus owners to control vehicle settings when away from the car. In January 2016, AT&T announced that it will be powering Ford’s new SYNC Connect entertainment and communications system. Ford is introducing SYNC Connect in the U.S. and Canada this year.

2013 General Motors Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC/OnStar

AT&T was the first and exclusive 4G LTE network provider for GM cars, trucks and crossovers in North America equipped with OnStar staring with popular Chevy models. In February 2016, AT&T announced that was supporting the introduction of connected service for the Opel and Vauxhall brands with OnStar in select European countries. In Europe, OnStar’s Wi-Fi 4G LTE service, enabled by Vodafone, is available in all new Opel and Vauxhall passenger vehicles. Current countries include Spain, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. GM was the first mass market brand to offer 4G LTE hotspots it cars, after Audi in 2014. This year GM began offering unlimited 4G LTE data plans.

Audi:  January 2014

AT&T launched the first-ever 4G LTE data plan with the next-generation Audi connect® system in the all-new A3 family. Then AT&T provided the wireless connection for Audi Connect in select 2016 and 2017 models. In January 2016, AT&T announced that the company would continue to bring high speed Internet to Audi vehicles in North America as a part of an expanded multi-year agreement. The integration of next-generation technology will help deliver many new features to the Audi connect system in select 2017 and 2018 models. This new technology will add safety, security and infotainment features, such as remote lock and unlock, stolen vehicle locator, online roadside assistance and service requests over the AT&T network.

2014 Tesla

Starting in 2014 AT&T and Tesla established a multi-year exclusive agreement to enable current and future Tesla vehicles in North America with high speed wireless connectivity.AT&T connectivity powers Tesla’s remote engine diagnostics, telematics, and industry-leading infotainment features such as Internet radio, Web browsing, live traffic, weather and navigation, all accessed through a 17-inch touchscreen.

April 2014 Volvo

Starting in April 2014, AT&T and Volvo Cars announced a multi-year agreement to enable Volvo vehicles in the U.S. and Canada with high-speed wireless connectivity. AT&T powers Volvo’s connected car solution, Sensus Connect, an embedded infotainment service. AT&T also powers Volvo On Call, a service allowing remote access to car functions and an emergency crash notification service.

January 2015 Subaru

AT&T and Subaru  agreed to enable 2016 model year vehicles with 4G LTE connectivity using STARLINK, the Subaru in-vehicle platform that provides hands-free connectivity, entertainment and safety services to vehicle occupants.Services include stolen vehicle recovery, automatic collision notification; remote vehicle services such as lock/unlock via a smartphone device and monthly diagnostic reports.

September 2015 Jaguar Land Rover North America

AT&T and Jaguar Land Rover North America announced that they are offering high speed internet to Jaguar Land Rover vehicles in the United States and Canada as a part of a multi-year agreement. AT&T connectivity powers Jaguar and Land Rover’s “infotainment” features like a Wi-Fi hot spot, connected navigation and a suite of apps.

According to Chetan Sharma, AT&T reported 684K net-adds on the connected car platform. We estimate that connected car will become a billion dollar revenue stream for AT&T in 2015. Connected cars accounted for 62% of the connected devices for AT&T.

For AT&T, Connected cars started to form a significant base of the connected devices segment with 68% of the new connections in the segment coming from cars.

February 2016 Porsche Cars North America

AT&T and Porsche Cars North America announcedhigh speed Internet for select 2017 models in the U.S. as a part of a multi-year agreement. AT&T offers wireless connectivity on AT&T’s 4G LTE network in certain 2017 Porsche Macan, Boxster and 911 models.Porsche’s Connect Plus services, powered by AT&T, are either standard or an available option on a number of models and will include a Wi-Fi hot spot, navigation, news and weather alerts and other infotainment services.

May 2016 Volkswagen

In May 2016, AT&T and Volkswagen entered into a multi-year global agreement to connect certain VW cars. As part of this agreement, AT&T provides connectivity in select VW and Audi hybrid engine cars, which started with select 2015 models. The connected Volkswagens ,were available in select global markets.

January 2017 American Honda Motor

AT&T and Honda announced they are bringing 4G LTE connectivity to Honda vehicles in the U.S. and Canada as a part of a new exclusive multi-year agreement. AT&T’s 4G LTE network  connects HondaLink apps and services for vehicles, including navigation, streaming radio, diagnostics and remote lock/unlock. The service starts this year with 2018 Honda Odyssey.

“We are at the convergence of many verticals such as connected car and wearables,” said Mosele.

AT&T is also integrating smart home features into cars via AT&T Digital Life services for home automation and security.

“You can set up a digital fence around your home that opens and closes when you are a certain distance from your home,” said Mosele.

For example, you can set home features for when you leave your home, the garage door will close/lock, all the doors of the house will lock the temperature will change to a more energy efficient mode and the lights will shut off. When you drive closer to your home, the temperature will change and the lights will turn on. The garage door opens as you arrive in the driveway.

AT&T Digital Life customers can buy door packages or energy packages. The energy package has two smart plugs (for lamps etc) and a thermostat.

AT&T’s Internet of Things efforts bring convenience, education and entertainment to cars without distracting the driver. At the Drive Studio features are tested on cars to make sure that they are safe.

“We’re committed to safety, using voice recognition to keep hands on the wheel and eyes on the road” said Mosele.

After homes and cars where does AT&T provide services for next?

“AT&T plans to connect cars to smart cities for smart communications to make life easier for everyone,” said Joe Mosele, vice president of IoT at AT&T. Smart cities help improve transportation, lighting, safety and sustainability. AT&T collaborated with G3ict and World Enabled, for a new report, Smart Cities for All: A Vision for an Inclusive, Accessible Urban Future.

On the other side of the spectrum, Verizon has deals with Mercedes-Benz, Zubie, Toyota, Viper, Hyundai and Kia.

Some of the information in the article originally appeared in AutomotiveIT News and Motor Matters.