Will Toyota’s Issues Shine Spotlight on All In-Car Electronics?


Yesterday I spent some time listening to Ray Lahood be questioned in the Senate hearings over Toyota. Today I’m listening to the Toyota executives.  It’s pretty clear that this is not good for Toyota, but what the future holds nobody knows.

The responses across the board are basically, We’ll start doing everything we weren’t doing.  Good times…

My question, though, is what does all this mean for telematics technology in the vehicle?

Until now the major concern with these technologies has been driver distraction.  These hearings bring to light the question of the safety of integrating telematics technologies with the actual driving functions of the car.  For now, a system like Ford Sync is just infotainment and I don’t believe that there is any crossover to the driving functions of the car.  This is key for a system that, in the future, will allow outside developers to create applications that will interact with the vehicle.

On the other hand, a system like OnStar includes features like Remote Vehicle Slowdown which is a direct interaction with the throttle control of the vehicle.  I really don’t know the technical details of the system so I will avoid speculation on what I’m sure is a sensitive subject right now, but the point is that companies out there are offering telematics features that do interact directly with more than just the radio head unit.

Ray LaHood has already stated that he ‘fears the spread of in-car technology.’  His testimony was filled with promises to dive deep into vehicle technology not only in Toyota, but across the entire industry.  What does that mean for telematics?  Will OEM’s hesitate to develop technologies like Remote Vehicle Slowdown that can be used to directly interact with the driving of the vehicle? Can we expect government involvement in telematics products? Will there be no change at all?

What do you think?

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