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Steelie Neelie calls for 'every vehicle digital'

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Famous Eurocrat "Steelie" Neelie Kroes has called on the EU's car and ICT industries to make "every vehicle digital" and thereby keep the bloc competitive on the world stage.

Kroes, who nowadays rejoices in the title European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda, gave it as the Commission's view that digital tech and carmaking can hoist each other onward and upward into new realms of high-added-value productivity. In a speech at the Autoworld motor expo in Brussels yesterday, she said:

Europe leads in wireless communication to and from vehicles. That is critical to improve both safety and efficiency. And to convert this into global market success global cooperation and standardisation will be required...

We need the automotive and ICT communities side-by-side. That way we can seize the opportunities of the next generation of wireless broadband, beyond 3G, to meet the growing demand for connectivity in cars.

In other words, we can stay in the lead if we collaborate. Mess it up and we will be left behind.

Wireless comms to and from vehicles are seen as being critical to future developments such as the European CVIS scheme. This would indeed offer safety and efficiency benefits - perhaps even going as far as self-driving automated cars, allowing users to enjoy a beer or a nap during a journey as the car seamlessly navigated around traffic jams etc*.

There would also, however, be privacy concerns - such systems would permit those with official access to monitor any vehicle in real time, for instance. And CVIS would also be a very convenient means of exacting road tolls and generally tightening up motoring enforcement. So the demand for car connectivity may not, in fact, be universal.

Kroes also gave it as her opinion that ICT would be a key enabler for electric cars, saying "electric vehicles are where ICT and green cars truly meet". This does ring true, as the problems of managing modern, high-power batteries and electric motors do tend to call for complex electronics.

The EC digi-agenda veep considers that European industry can best prepare itself for the coming future of netted-up electric motoring by adoption of common standards and cooperative practices. Addressing the assembled Euro carmakers, she concluded:

"Let's keep and extend collaboration at the European level. Pre-commercial collaboration in research can be key for staying competitive. Reducing risks and costs can give you a better shot at global leadership in the future.

"Please see the Digital Agenda as your agenda too. We need each other to deliver mobility that is connected, smart, safe and clean." ®

Bootnote

*We here on the Reg future motoring desk tend to suspect that there might be a tendency for car owners, failing perhaps to find affordable parking in city centres, to simply order their vehicles to orbit locally while they did a bit of shopping or went to the pub etc. The cost of fuel would probably be a lot less than that of a parking space. Fleets of empty cars driving about awaiting a recall from their absent owners might become a serious irritation.

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