eCall deployment due in 2015… or 2017

Date: Saturday April 12, 2014

eCall is a public service based on 112 number, which must be offered for free to the motorists. It is estimated to cost much less than €100 per new car.

In case of a crash, an eCall-equipped car automatically calls the nearest emergency centre. Automatic triggers include airbags deployment but the OEMs are free to choose the most appropriate set of sensors. The eCall functionality is meant to be dormant and cannot be used for vehicle tracking outside emergencies, so privacy is safeguarded.

The nature of the Minimum Set of Data (MSD) sent by the vehicle in case of a crash is now a standard and includes, among other data, a priority flag and the car’s location. It must be transmitted to the most appropriate PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point). The “technical standards for operating” requirements are already approved by the CEN and ETSI standardization committees.
eCall service

Today 0.7% of the vehicles already have eCall provided by the car manufacturer. This third Party Service (TPS) is offered for a fee today. In this case the TPS eCall is first received by a private call-center, which, if necessary, redirects it to the nearest PSAP.
PanEuropean eCall and TPS eCall can co-exist on the same vehicle. Furthermore, since public eCall is mandatory for the new type-approved vehicle only, there will be no impacts on the already equipped TPS-eCall vehicles.

So what is happening next?

In June 2013, the European Commission made two proposals:
The first was to decide upon the necessary modernisation of the emergency call infrastructure in each country.

The second was for a regulation concerning type-approval requirements for the deployment of the eCall in-vehicle system, setting the technical requirements for manufacturers, e.g. applicable standards, trigger, tests, etc.

On March 19th 2014, the European Parliament and council negotiators reached an informal agreement on upgrading existing emergency centres so they could receive eCalls.
According to the text agreed by the European Parliament, EU member states have to install the necessary infrastructure to receive and handle all eCalls no later than October 1st 2017 and at least six months before the date by which the devices have to be fitted in the cars.
That date is the other item in the eCall package of proposals, which is yet to be negotiated. The parliament has set out its position on the matter in a vote in February 2014 and set October 2015 as a final date for manufacturers to be ready to install eCall devices in new cars and light vans.

Two scenario for implementation

eCall is expected to save several hundred lives in the European Union each year, and to mitigate the severity of tens of thousands of injuries. Further delays in its implementation, looking very likely only decrease its attractiveness further. So what is the most likely scenario?

First scenario: taking into account the informal agreement on eCall infrastructure deployment, the European Parliament will postpone the deadline for in-vehicle deployment to 6 months after the eCall infrastructure deadline, that’s April 2018!

Second scenario: the dates stay as they are. But with no eCall infrastructure in place, in-vehicle eCalls will be triggered but not routed directly to any PSAP between 2015 and 2017. This opens a huge numbers of considerations. Chief among them are the prevalence of TPS eCall and the rapid strides made in recent years in telematics technology, allowing the creation of lucrative business models for OEMs.

In fact, in order to provide “best in class” services, OEMs are currently investing heavily in new services built around the resale of large amount of data including location, mechanical condition and driver behaviour. There is also a clear interest for carmakers in keeping their customers loyal to their brand.

We believe the European Parliament will follow the first scenario and that OEMs will start including eCall in new vehicles only when it becomes mandatory. Some of them will consider including silent eCall together with a functioning TPS-eCall, but only in vehicles already equipped with a telematics service platform. The argument is clear:
These vehicles will be ready to support eCall when the infrastructure is in place.

eCall becomes a great opportunity for OEMs to build a service platform, ideally in an environment opened to third-party developers. For the low range vehicles, eCall will only appear when it is mandatory. For the high range brands, some form of eCall will be included but only if “public eCall” can be used as a marketing argument. This will result in an advantage for OEMs and TPS allowing them to test their incoming telematics business models using a UNIQUE and MODULAR telematics box.

The path to public eCall full deployment seems very long still. If you want to s tay on top of the latest news on the final EU parliament decisions on both eCall infrastructure and in-vehicle device deployment deadlines stay tune to our eCall blog!