Smart Cars and the Way They Are Connected

In the first business quarter of 2016, more cars than phones were connected to cellular services. Accounting for nearly one-third (32%) of all devices connected in the beginning of 2016, it is easy to see that the car industry is becoming very connected. Smartphones were all the craze for the past handful of years and it seems that almost everyone has one now. Now, the new trend is IoT connected cars and vehicles. IoT (Internet of Things) refers to the fast-growing network of physical objects that can be connected to the Internet and communicate with other objects, devices, and systems. Some analysts believe that by the year 2020, there will be somewhere between 20-100 billion connected “things” and the network will include relationships between people-people, people-things, and things-things. Now, cars are being added to the ever-growing list of connected objects that include phones, coffeemakers, and even thermostats.

A few key predictions for the auto industry as this new trend is beginning to take off estimate that there will be 381 million connected cars on the road by 2020 and connected cars will generate over $8 trillion between 2015 and 2020. Today, auto companies are producing cars that are connected in two ways, either embedded or tethered. Embedded cars are equipped with a built-in antenna and chipset that allows the car to be connected directly, while a tethered car must be hardwired to a smartphone in order to connect. Popular smartphone apps have already been common in cars for the past few years- GasBuddy, Google Maps, and Spotify.


One of the biggest motivators for car companies to invest in creating connected cars is for dealing with software updates. Since most current cars operate on software and a computer system that monitors all of the functions of the car, having the car be connected to the Internet will allow auto companies to release software updates (especially important during the event of a recall). Another motivation is that companies will have access to invaluable data that shows car performance and how consumers use their cars, which will drive future innovations. BMW is leading the connectivity push ahead of the other automaker giants including GM, Toyota, and Tesla.

Tech companies have also thrown their hat into the ring when it comes to developing technologies and products for connected cars. AT&T added over 2.5 million connected cars in 2015 to its network service. However, Microsoft, Apple, Pandora, Sprint, and Google have begun to dedicate a significant amount of resources in order to cash in on this trend that is taking off at an exponential rate.


Remember when the commercials came out that you could listen to satellite radio in your car without any modification because they had built-in receivers? Well, those days are long gone; now car companies are integrating some pretty impressive connectable technology into their cars. Here is a look at some of the new ways that cars are utilizing Internet of Things applications in new models.

Suspension System

Some of these applications in which cars have become connected may seem a bit out of touch with practicality. However, when you pay top dollar for a new car, especially luxury brands, it is the little things that make all the difference in the world. In the Tesla Model S, it comes with Smart Air Suspension as an option, which can raise and lower the clearance of the car, like over the edge of a driveway, with the push of a button. Sure this does not sound like cutting-edge technology you would expect from Tesla but when you consider that the car knows when to do it automatically based on GPS memory, it is pretty impressive. No one likes to scrape a bumper, especially when driving a $65,000+ car.


Taking the small touches of luxury to another level is Rolls-Royce and BMW. When discussing IoT and cars, your last guess would probably involve the transmission and engine. Well, the Rolls-Royce Ghost and BMW 7 Series both offer a smart transmission system that uses GPS to help make the ride even smoother. How do they do this? By using GPS, the system can have the transmission shift, depending on what lies ahead, thus eliminating the hard shifts up or down hills that can be rather tough. Comfort and smoothness of the ride are often two of the most important aspects that luxury car buyers look for and Rolls-Royce and BMW seem to have raised the bar.

Infotainment System

Having a tablet built into your car that passengers can connect to the Internet is an added touch that many car manufacturers are putting in their cars now. Being able to search for restaurants, gas stations, hotels, attractions along the way and even stream media (music and videos) are just the icing on the cake. But why do you need this when your smartphone does all the same things? The most important reason that a connected infotainment system is used for is if you happen to be involved in an accident, the system has an automatic emergency notification to alert first responders of your location in the event you are unable to call on your own.

Virtual Owners Guide

Hyundai understands the pains that owners have when it comes to navigating through the owners manual. That is why they created a virtual guide with augmented reality that allows owners to easily find information and navigate their car through actual digital overlays of their engine and interior.

OTA Software Updates

As mentioned earlier, one of the most convenient features of owning a connected car is remote software updates, especially in the event of a recall. Companies are able to send out updates over the air (OTA) so that owners never have to set foot into a dealership. Automatic updates ranging from airbag systems to patching security loopholes, which will become an increasing concern as the connectivity of cars increases, can be done remotely.


This feature may not be groundbreaking or flashy, but does add an element of safety for the driver and passengers. Headlights that are controlled by GPS can anticipate turns so that the lights swivel before the driver even begins to take the corner. This feature can be very useful in rural areas that are populated with various animals that can cause problems on the road at night.

Self-driving systems seem to be the next big push in connected smart cars. Regardless, cars have become the most technologically sophisticated addition to IoT list. For all your Lexus, Toyota, Scion and Acura non-IoT car replacement parts, visit Discount Parts Monster and you will find everything you need plus more!