News, Technology

Smartphone connectivity major deal-breaker for new car buyers

Potential customers can love everything about a new car, but won’t buy if it doesn’t pair with their smartphone.

That’s according to a study by McKinsey and Company, 'Connected Car: Automotive Value Chain Unbound’. The study has been used by Nissan to understand the importance of developing state-of-the-art infotainment systems. It reveals that 28% of new car buyers prioritise car connectivity over other features, such as fuel efficiency. It says 13% would not buy a car that’s not connected to the internet while 20% would switch to another car brand for better connectivity. That rises to 41% for drivers who spend more than 20 hours a week in their car.

The research has led to ‘significant investment’ by Nissan to make sure phones integrate seamlessly. Leading the European team is Patrick Keenan, known at Nissan as ‘the man with 40 phones’.
Keenan explained: “Today’s new cars have a lifecycle of five or six years before a new version is launched, but a mobile phone will only be on the market for less than two years before it’s replaced. Keeping cars and phones talking to each other is the crux of my job.”
His priority is to ensure that, when it comes to consumer tech, Nissan is always one step ahead of the game. His team uses a network of industry contacts to predict future trends, as well as ensuring that the latest Nissan dashboard hardware and software works with the vast majority of existing and older handsets.
Based at Nissan’s European Technical Centre in Cranfield, UK, Patrick’s desk drawers are packed with dozens of phones, which he uses to develop and fine-tune connectivity. He makes and receives hundreds of test calls a day as he works on future Nissan vehicles.
“My job is to make sure anyone who walks into a Nissan showroom anywhere in Europe doesn’t walk out again because a car they want to buy won’t pair with their phone,” said Keenan.
Part of the future automotive landscape is Autonomous Drive, with ‘ProPilot 1.0’ (single-lane autonomous highway driving) debuting in Europe on the Nissan Qashqai during 2017.
Connectivity and data integration are vital pieces of the jigsaw, and Keenan is part of a global team of Nissan engineers working on developing connected vehicle architectures 'that have safety and security as their top priority'.