Carmakers ain't phone companies. A majority of those "embedded cellular" modems designed for e-call aren't even 3G. They will be 2G, according to an IHS analyst.
Of course, just to be clear, MyFord Touch is a "connectivity box" designed for infotainment, not for e-call. Still, the system lets a driver talk to the outside world through a Bluetooth-paired mobile phone. The buggy nature of the system, if true, is definitely a liability issue.
LTE all the way
Meanwhile, as all new cars sold in the EU countries must be fitted with a wireless emergency calling device, GM has stepped up. The automaker is promising to offer LTE in most 2015 model-year vehicles sold in the United States and Canada, with sales beginning in mid 2014, according to a website called FierceBroadbandWireless.
The story quoted General Motors' chairman Dan Akerson by saying:
Every brand we offer -- from Chevrolet to Cadillac -- and nearly every vehicle we sell around the world will soon offer 4G LTE, starting next year in the United States and Canada. It's a global rollout because that's what customers want -- and we have the scale to deliver.
Considering GM's lead in its OnStar-based roadside assistance and telematics services, it's only logical that GM is much more aggressive in upgrading its embedded cellular connectivity.
According to the IHS analyst, 25 percent of US cars in 2012 were sold with the feature, "for the most part included as standard equipment." De Ambroggi added that the cellular modem is there inside a car, but not every GM car owner needs to subscribe to the OnStar program.
Embedded cellular should make sense for OEMs -- for both safety and diagnostic purposes. The built-in wireless connectivity in cars will be "more robust and reliable than using a tethered or mobile device like a smartphone," according to De Ambroggi.
I couldn't agree more.
But that brings me back to my original question: Why don't we have an e-call mandate in the United States? Isn't it about time?