The digital fleet will reach a quarter billion by 2020 spawning a new automotive ecosystem says Gartner

The number the connected cars in the world is set to explode over the next five years, growing to 250 million by 2020, according to research outfit Gartner. The growth of the fleet will spawn new in-vehicle services and automated driving capabilities, and represent a key interface to the Internet of Things for most consumers.

Gartner is now forecasting there will be 4.9 billion connected things during 2015, up by almost a third over last year 2014, and tracking towards an eventual total of 25 billion by 2020.

According to  James F. Hines, research director at Gartner “The connected car is already a reality, and in-vehicle wireless connectivity is rapidly expanding from luxury models and premium brands, to high-volume midmarket models.”

He said the increased consumption and creation of digital content within the vehicle will drive the need for more sophisticated infotainment systems, creating opportunities for application processors, graphics accelerators, displays and human-machine interface technologies.. “At the same time, new concepts of mobility and vehicle usage will lead to new business models and expansion of alternatives to car ownership, especially in urban environments.”

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(Image source Ericsson)

According to the analysts, the proliferation of vehicle connectivity will have implications across the major functional areas of telematics, automated driving, infotainment and mobility services.

Among Gatner’s other IoT predictions:

By 2020, the connected kitchen will contribute at least 15 percent savings in the food and beverage industry, while leveraging big data analytics. The connected kitchen has received less attention and drawn less focus along the IoT value chain compared to other IoT use cases and digital business opportunities. However, the connected kitchen will deliver significant benefits across industries spanning retail, healthcare and insurance, in addition to significantly addressing sustainability issues.

Through 2018, there will be no dominant IoT ecosystem platform; IT leaders will still need to compose solutions from multiple providers. While companies are busy building out their IoT ecosystems, there is still no coherent set of business or technical models for the IoT. Standards remain nascent and most IoT projects will entail custom elements. This is further complicated by the lack of dominant technology service providers (TSPs) in the IoT.

“Many standards and ecosystems for the IoT are still in development and some of the vendors and ecosystems may fail during the working lifetime of current IoT projects,” said Alfonso Velosa, research director at Gartner. “CIOs will need to ensure their prime system integrator has a strategy to future-proof their project. This is especially critical if the project involves infrastructure that may be in the field for decades. A gateway-based architecture will be a key approach to future-proofing IoT projects.”

As an example of where the industry is headed, Volvo recently announced it will use Ericsson’s  Connected Vehicle Cloud (See image above) in order to allow drivers, passengers and the car to connect to services available in the cloud. According to the company, drivers and passengers will be able to access applications for information, navigation, and entertainment from a screen in the car. “At the same time, Volvo Cars will be able to open parts of the platform to other players in the eco-system of the automotive industry.”

The cloud allows for content content providers to have agreements with Volvo and the other members of the ecosystem, like internet radio providers, road authorities, cities’ governments, toll-road operators and others.

Lex Kerssemakers, Senior Vice President Product Strategy and Vehicle Line Management at Volvo Cars, says: “We clearly see that cars in the near future will integrate the same level of digital services that consumers today are used to have in their homes or at work. This is a strategically important part of Volvo’s investments for the future where we intend to take a leading position.”

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