As automakers seek to make their vehicles increasingly connected — especially given the myriad benefits that can be provided — there are still some wrinkles to iron out.
Chief among them? Cybersecurity threats, consumer data privacy concerns and the possibility of connectivity — or a lack thereof — affecting safety-critical functions of a vehicle.
In September, Tesla drivers experienced a brief network outage that left some unable to connect to the company's app and website. Drivers said the disconnection from the mobile app impacted their ability to open their car doors and access other services.
Though rare, the Tesla example — first reported by website Electrek — is a lesson to automakers and raises questions about the reliability of connectivity in today's vehicles. Though the outage affected mobile access and no operational or safety features were impacted, it's especially pertinent given that more than 500 million vehicles are expected to be on the road with some form of connectivity globally by 2025, according to IHS Markit.
"It's an issue as much for Tesla as for any company that relies on connected services or cloud services," said Sam Abuelsamid, principal at Guidehouse Insights. "As we become more and more dependent on services that are running in the cloud, rather than running locally, you see that connection becomes potentially a major bottleneck.
"Manufacturers are going to have to be very careful about how they deploy systems that rely on connectivity to make sure that there is always some sort of fallback position so that you have at least some degree of functionality and some way to let the customer know that this system is not fully functional," he said.