Automotive wireless market to expand by over 40 percent

July 22, 2013 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Wireless technologies like Bluetooth and embedded cellular are accelerating in the car business, with market revenue set to rise by 41 percent from 2012 through 2018, according to an Automotive Infotainment Market Tracker Report from information and analytics provider IHS.

Global original equipment manufacturer (OEM) market revenue for wireless technology in cars is set to rise to $1.6 billion in 2018, up from $1.1 billion in 2012.

Revenue for wireless solutions in cars will reach a projected $1.17 billion this year, up a respectable 5 percent from 2011. While growth this year has moderated from the sizable double-digit increases of 2011 and 2012, continued expansion is assured in the years ahead. Expansions in the 8 percent range are expected during both 2014 and 2015.

“In the automotive market, wireless connectivity demand is racing ahead of older wired technologies as applications increasingly focus on supporting mobile devices and cellular communications,” said Luca DeAmbroggi, senior analyst for automotive infotainment at IHS. “For example, the USB legacy wired connectivity solution is being challenged by wireless mechanisms in cars such as Bluetooth for exchanging data between fixed and mobile devices over short distances, as well as embedded cellular for two-way wireless telematics connectivity.”

Bluetooth on a blue streak

Bluetooth will remain the standard wireless connection between consumer devices and the infotainment stack unit of a vehicle for the foreseeable future. The next generation of Bluetooth, or 4.0, will offer higher transfer speeds with the high speed (HS) option, while ensuring that gadgets stay paired longer and take up less power.

Data transfers taking place, however, will not be carried over the Bluetooth link itself but via a collocated 802.11 link through a competitive wireless technology—in this case, Wi-Fi.

It remains unclear if OEMs will prefer a decoupled solution for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in cars, or if they will opt instead for a combo approach that optimizes cost and reduces the design workload. A separate chip approach is likely in the short term because of the still limited pull of Wi-Fi in automotive, IHS believes, even though the broader diffusion of wireless technologies points to integrated combo solutions being used in the future.

Embedded cellular