The market potential of embedded V2X (Vehicle to X) systems is riding on the US federal government, which recently announced that it will begin steps to bring vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology for new light vehicles.
Worldwide system demand could reach 18.8 million units embedded in specific vehicles by 2020 if the US mandates V2X. Without these regulations, the worldwide forecast drops to just 5.3 million units, said Kevin Mak, senior analyst in the Automotive Electronics Service (AES) at Strategy Analytics, United Kingdom, and author of a new report entitled "V2X: A Safety Benefit For Automotive, But How Should It Be Deployed?"
"The U.S. mandate could provide the volumes for the economies of scale needed to generate the cost reductions necessary for mass market deployment. This, in turn, could hasten V2X deployment worldwide," Mak told EE Times.
Earlier this year, US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said he was committed to mandating the technology, but the federal agency, National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), still hasn't set a target date. But this isn't unusual as the legislation process has been typically slow when it comes to mandating technology in automotive.
"As for a U.S. mandate, it is likely that should one be implemented, it would be enacted before the end of the Obama term in 2016 and be implemented a year later, in 2017," Mak said. Meanwhile, the Car-2-Car Communication Consortium (C2C-CC) in Europe has signed a Memorandum of Understanding, agreeing to have a communication device fitted to at least one model in the range of each participating automaker by 2015, he added.
Implementation of a mandate couldn't come soon enough as the benefits for the automotive industry are huge. The key reason behind DSRC (automotive-standard V2X, called Dedicated Short Range Communication) is to enhance safety, particularly to prevent collisions beyond the line-of-sight of the driver and beyond the range of on-board sensors, such as cameras and RADARs, Mak said. In fact, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said V2X could prevent 70-to-80 percent of crashes of unimpaired drivers and save 20,000 lives a year in the United States.
Despite the enhanced safety features V2X would bring, there are challenges in implementing the technology, including cost, data security, lack of critical mass, and competition from lower-cost mobile phone-based system solutions.
Cost is always an issue in promoting new technologies in automotive, in particular the cost-value analysis that consumers undertake before purchasing a new vehicle. But what will especially affect the value of V2X systems in its nascent years are the lack of other vehicles with V2X and the lack of V2X roadside infrastructure (otherwise known as the "critical mass") that would make V2X operational.
— Ismini Scouras is a freelance writer for EE Times.