L.A. Auto Show: Who’s responsible for connectivity in cars?

When it comes to connectivity in cars, not all experiences are created equal. But the desire for integration is rampant, industry experts said during the L.A. Auto Show’s Connected Car Expo on Tuesday.

As tech giants head to the driver’s dashboard, demand for embedded car connectivity is trickling to the lower price points the average American can afford, according to NVIDIA’s marketing director, Danny Shapiro.

Yet despite the auto industry’s rapid adoption of Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay, some tech start-ups say a uniform experience simply isn’t possible.

“Saying everyone is going to have the same experience in the car is not the way this is going to play out,” said Konstantin Othmer, chief executive of CloudCar.


Automakers are interested in their brand, he said. For them, the key is to weave a seamless experience for the driver. If a car comes with a heads-up display, for example, the driver would want to read a text message on that screen, not in the center console. The automaker should have the ability to do that, Othmer said. 

At the end of the day, every consumer-facing company involved in the technology chain wants to make a name for itself. That’ll require cooperation.

“For an automaker to maintain its brand, for a content developer to maintain its brand, there needs to be a single system that brings it all together,” said Scott Burnell, who leads business development and partner management with the mobile industry at Ford. “It doesn’t matter how it works, it just matters that it works.”

But one of the challenges of integration is the dashboard’s competition with a driver’s smart phone. With the long developmental cycle of cars, the auto industry is often playing catch-up. Cars driving the road today were designed four years ago, Othmer said. 


“It’s like trying to build an e-commerce site, and you build the computer, then the browser, then the site,” he said. 

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