Auto Revolution 2019: Dave Sargent of J.D. Power Describes how Connected Cars Lay a Complex Foundation for the Future of the Automated Driving Experience

Discussions around the technology of “connected cars,” often miss the much broader issues that the automotive industry is wrestling with to redefine the vehicle driving and ownership experiences, according to Dave Sargent, Vice President of Global Automotive at J.D. Power in an audio interview for journalists covering the Auto Revolution 2019 conference in Las Vegas on October 23-24.

“There is a complex array of dynamics at play. We are talking about connecting vehicles to each other, to myriad cloud resources, and to the physical transportation infrastructure upon which all cars and trucks operate. The industry is on a fast track to move way beyond connecting our vehicles to our phones and using GPS to guide our travels. In the process, the consumer experience is being dramatically altered,” says Sargent.

The good news is that -- if past is prologue -- consumer acceptance and adoption can occur reasonably quickly, but only if the process is properly managed by the entire community of interest with the voice of the consumer at the center.

“More and more people are heavy users of GPS navigation. Even when you are in familiar territory, GPS offers practical insights such as where your vehicle is in the context of where other vehicles are on the road through live traffic. It provides benefits to consumers in dense metropolitan areas who want to avoid the worst of the traffic jams -- especially in places like the L.A. area, where I live,” he points out.

This basic level of connectivity, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. Moving forward consumers can expect to see connected car applications explode exponentially.

“For example, there are tremendous opportunities associated with establishing connectivity with the transportation infrastructure -- such as stop lights. It's very frustrating if you leave home early in the morning and you're the only car on the road, to be sitting at a stop light and there's absolutely no one coming for miles around. Work is well underway in many districts to leverage automation, analytics and connectivity so that the stop light will be situationally aware. It will change to green if you're the only car in the area. That is a very simple but very meaningful way that having a vehicle connected to the infrastructure will help consumers,” Sargent explains.

The much bigger picture becomes even more promising -- and more complex -- as the move toward fully automated vehicles picks up steam.

“As this trend evolves, automated vehicles will be increasingly dependent on the quality of connected features. Every vehicle needs to know where every other vehicle on the road is to proceed safely. So as automakers bring more and more capability for vehicles to be automated to market, connectivity is critical,” he says. 

The Role of Trust in Adoption and Implementation

While impressive progress is being made in the development of technologies that enable these connected features and functions across next generation vehicles and transportation infrastructures, adoption and acceptance will hinge on ensuring that consumers have an exceptionally high level of trust in the entire ecosystem.

“The concept of ‘trust’ will play a determining role in how fast we move forward with deployment. Consumer acceptance requires that they are comfortable with the performance and usability of automated features, with the way that the industry handles data governance and many other issues in addition to the underlying technology. While the technology issues are daunting, taking care of consumer trust issues will be even more challenging,” says Sargent.

It is a discussion that J.D. Power plans to lead as the industry seeks to understand the growing complexity that must be managed in the mobility space.

“These conversations are starting to take place, but it is massively complex. Many parties need to be involved, many of whom have divergent interests. It is important, however, that we achieve an industry-wide consensus that will allow us to provide consumers with both excitement about the future, and peace of mind about the safety and security implications,” he concludes.

  • At present, most industry observers have been focused on the technical aspects of vehicle connectivity, these technological hurdles will be surpassed relatively quickly.

  • The bigger issue is that of reshaping the culture and consumer acceptance of the technology. This needs to be addressed directly by establishing consumer trust in:

  1. the technology itself

  2. the value it brings the consumer

  3. the handling of privacy and security regarding user data 

  • There are many players in the game, all with somewhat competing interests. This makes having an open and industry-wide discussion all the more paramount to create the best opportunity for adoption.

  • In the end, the consumer will decide. They always do.

For more information including registration for the J.D. Power Auto Revolution 2019 event you can visit: