SEMA News -- April 2009

SEMA News, April 2009, Automotive Electronics Connectivity Committee 

“Consumers want seamless on-board vehicle connectivity with their homes, offices and the rest of the world,” said Waraniak. “They want simple and intuitive ways to operate cell phones and entertainment systems, connect to weather and traffic reports, as well as access to the information and content of electronic devices that are built in, brought in or beamed in to their vehicles.”

Consumers have embraced and, in fact, have come to demand in-vehicle technology. From performance audio and navigation systems to the iPod and from Ford Sync to GM OnStar, automotive and consumer electronics technologies are making cars and trucks more connected, more integrated and safer. Automotive electronics for infotainment, connectivity and active-passive safety have become major product differentiators and selling points in the showroom and in the performance aftermarket. That’s why the most progressive companies and associations from the consumer electronics and automotive industries have come together to form the Automotive Electronics Connectivity Committee (AECC). John Waraniak, SEMA’s vice president of vehicle technology was instrumental in creating the AECC.

“The AECC is a cross-industry, cross-association collaborative alliance,” Waraniak said. “It provides a forum and acts as a catalyst to help SEMA members address in-vehicle electronics integration and installation concerns. Open architectures, interoperability and accessory-friendly systems drive integration, and integration drives innovation and growth. I believe the aftermarket will play an increasing role in the development of cars that don’t crash and devices that don’t distract as consumers and enthusiasts demand seamless integration of electronics whether they are built in, brought in or beamed in to their vehicles. While OEMs may own the vehicle product-development process, they do not own innovation.”

The committee is comprised of representatives from SEMA, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the Mobile Enhancement Retailers Association (MERA), the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and the Convergence Transportation Electronics Association (CTEA). Administered by the CEA, the committee works to stimulate collaboration and bring disparate points of view together to benefit consumers by accelerating the integration of consumer electronics into automobiles. The companies participating in the AECC represent virtually every segment of the mobile-electronics and automotive industries. With automakers becoming more willing to discuss and explore open platforms for infotainment and application integration, SEMA is currently considering the addition of electronics development (ECAD) to the association’s Technology Transfer Program.

Consumer spending on in-car consumer electronics (both from the factory and from specialty-equipment manufacturers) grew 21.5% in 2007 to $11.4 billion, according to a recent CEA study, which also concluded that consumers are more likely to spend money on electronic products that are not permanently installed in vehicles than on permanently installed products. The J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study, which measures “owner delight with the design, content, layout and performance of their new vehicles,” found that consumers have given increasingly high marks to audio, entertainment and navigation systems.

AECC members believe that by openly collaborating and working together, the automotive electronics and consumer electronics industries as well as service providers, installers, restylers and dealers can meet increasing consumer demands for personalization and customization and grow as a whole as the mobile-electronics industry continues to evolve. The ultimate benefit will be decreased warranty concerns, increased profitability and increased customer satisfaction.