Telematics Box Modules: 2024

Over the past decade, telematics box modules have seen rapid adoption around the world. As vehicles become more connected and reliant on data, these modules play a crucial role in gathering, transmitting, and analyzing vehicle diagnostics and location information. With the global connected car market expected to reach $225 billion by 2027, telematics technology will likely continue its swift proliferation in the coming years.

What Are Telematics Box Modules?

Telematics box modules, sometimes called telematics control units (TCUs) are hardware devices installed in vehicles to enable a range of connected services. They consist of:

Telematics Box Modules
  • Cellular and GPS antennas for wireless connectivity
  • A processor to run software and analyze data
  • Memory to store vehicle data and software applications
  • Accelerometers and gyroscopes for motion detection
  • Electrical interfaces to connect to the vehicle’s systems

These components allow telematics boxes to track vehicle diagnostics, location, driving patterns, crashes and more. The data can then be transmitted wireless to cloud platforms for further analysis.

Major Telematics Module Manufacturers

There are over 50 significant manufacturers providing telematics units around the world. Some of the top global providers include:

  • LG Electronics: A South Korean conglomerate that provides TCUs to major automakers
  • Harman Connected Services: A leader in connected car software and design acquired by Samsung
  • Continental AG: A German automotive supplier of instrumentation and infotainment
  • Bosch: The world’s largest automotive tech supplier based in Germany
  • Denso: A Japanese components maker that is a leader in vehicle data telemetry

These major players have established relationships with automakers globally. They compete intensely on proprietary data analytics capabilities and innovative connected services enabled by their telematics modules.

Key Telematics Module Capabilities

Modern telematics boxes support all kinds of intelligent vehicle capabilities:

Vehicle Diagnostics and Maintenance Updates

Modules continuously track sensor data from engine systems, brakes, batteries and more. Diagnostic trouble codes trigger alerts to drivers, while regular data is used by automakers to inform preventative maintenance needs. Software and firmware updates ensure optimal performance.

GPS Location Tracking

Embedded cellular and GPS antennas provide accurate real time location tracking. This enables smart navigation, speed limit warnings, arrival time estimates, stolen vehicle recovery and logistics management.

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Crash Notification and Assistance

Sudden decelerations trigger crash detection alerts that notify first responders to provide quick emergency assistance. Data helps reconstruct collision details.

Infotainment Integration

Media, smartphone mirroring, voice controls and more route through the head unit to the telematics module for integrated control across systems.

Global Mandates Driving Adoption

Governments worldwide are increasingly mandating telematics capabilities to improve public safety and transportation efficiency. For example:

  • The European Union requires the eCall emergency system that automatically contacts emergency services after a collision
  • Russia has mandated GLONASS-enabled telematics systems with emergency crash notification since 2017
  • India now requires GPS tracking and emergency buttons on all public transport vehicles
  • The United States mandates event data recorders to capture vehicle dynamics in the seconds before a crash

These types of regulations are major drivers spurring the global adoption of telematics technology. And as vehicles become more autonomous, mandates around data storage, connectivity and functionality will likely continue expanding.

Consumer VS Commercial Telematics Trends

There are some distinct segments emerging in how telematics systems are being applied:

Consumer vehicles focus on safety, security and infotainment features that customers find most appealing. This includes:

  • Smartphone mirroring
  • Digital Assistant integration
  • Automatic crash assist
  • Vehicle health reports

Commercial vehicles meanwhile prioritize fleet management and work efficiency capabilities like:

  • Asset Tracking
  • Route optimization
  • Driver safety monitoring
  • Remote diagnostics

However, these segments are converging as enterprises discover the benefits of detailed vehicle analytics and consumers want to track teens or access more workplace mobility solutions.

Harnessing Connected Car Data

As adoption spreads, the amount of data generated by connected vehicles equipped with telematics modules is multiplying exponentially. Automakers and third-party providers analyze this data to provide various services:

Predictive Maintenance uses diagnostic patterns to forecast issues and needed repairs proactively to avoid breakdowns.

Usage Insurance applies actual driving behaviors like acceleration, speed and mileage to determine individualized premiums.

Dealership Support accesses performance data and alerts to improve customer service with preventative notifications and maintenance planning.

Product Planning leverages telemetry trends to inform development of new vehicle technologies, apps and service offerings tailored to data driven consumer needs analysis.

The opportunities around connected car data analytics are tremendous and rapidly evolving. Vehicle telemetry is one of the most valuable emerging sources of proprietary business intelligence being closely guarded.

Improving Telematics Systems with Over the Air Updates

Unlike mobile phones that frequently add new apps and functionality through software updates, most vehicles currently lack flexible over-the-air (OTA) consumer software update capabilities.

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But wireless over-the-air updates are critical for improving vehicles after sale by:

  • Enhancing telematics module security defenses against evolving cybersecurity threats
  • Fixing software bugs and adding small functionality improvements
  • Streamlining the deployment of new apps and connected services without requiring a trip to the dealership

As such, OTA updates are an essential feature automakers are prioritizing in next generation telematics modules to future proof vehicles. Major investments are being made to enable more flexible vehicle reprogramming through updates transmitted securely over cellular vehicle networks.

Third-Party Telematics System Integration

While automakers closely guard access to telematics modules on their proprietary networks, third parties are offering their own hardware modules that vehicle owners can opt to install separately:

Omnitracs offers a popular fleet tracking plug-in device providing detailed driving analytics dashboards for fleet management.

Zubie is a wireless connected car assistant that plugs into the onboard diagnostics port to provide vehicle tracking, family safety features and smart alerts to drivers.

These kinds of independent devices unlock additional capabilities not offered by the factory telematics systems. As consumer appetite grows for connected features not available from automakers, the third-party telematics segment stands to see rapid growth.

Optimizing Telematics Systems for Next-Generation Vehicles

The vehicle telematics market is still in early phases and expected to continue its aggressive expansion as connected technologies mature. Key hardware improvements focused on optimizing future telematics modules include:

5G Connectivity
New 5G compatible modems will massively boost bandwidth and responsiveness for fast secure data transmissions while vehicles are in motion.

Enhanced Cybersecurity
Integrating hardware security modules directly into telematics boxes will harden defenses for the influx of software and data exchange.

Vehicle to Everything (V2X) Communications
Modules with dedicated short-range radios will enable direct data sharing with nearby vehicles, signals, and devices for collaborative smart transportation capabilities.

Advanced Driver Monitoring Systems (ADMS)
Interior facing cameras and sensors will enhance safety services by adding detailed driver behavior and health monitoring to complement vehicle diagnostics.

As vehicles transform into adaptive smart devices with enhanced autonomy, robust cyber defenses, and new forms of mobility services, the telematics module remains central to unlocking this connected potential.

Major investments from automakers and suppliers will usher in a new generation of telematics hardware engineered to securely harness real time data in motion. Vehicles in 2024 are just the start as to where cloud connected telematics systems will lead us in this mobility revolution towards truly intelligent transport.

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Conclusion

As the globe adds over 80 million new vehicles annually, the majority are now equipped with telematics modules to enable smart connected capabilities. These hardware boxes integrate cellular and GPS connectivity with powerful vehicle network access to provide live diagnostics telemetry and over-the-air software updates continuously.

Automakers closely guard this high value data for analytics while governments increasingly mandate telematics functionalities like emergency crash assistance in new vehicles. Telematics modules differentiate consumer versus commercial fleets today but are expected to converge in offerings over time.

Key innovations around 5G, V2X communications and enhanced security will aim to unlock even smarter vehicle awareness and collaborative autonomy. With forecasts expecting a billion connected cars globally transmitting petabytes of data by 2030, the central role of telematics hardware at the core of this mobility revolution is only accelerating.

FAQs

What are some leading global telematics module suppliers?

Some leading telematics module manufacturers serving automakers globally include LG Electronics, Harman Connected Services, Continental, Bosch, and Denso.

What vehicle network data can telematics modules access?

Telematics modules are connected to a vehicle’s onboard CAN bus as well as auxiliary interfaces like OBD-II to access various sensor measurements and diagnostics data from the engine, transmission, airbags, battery systems, wheel speed sensors, inertia switches, and more.

What connectivity technologies are used in telematics modules?

Most telematics boxes today use 2G/3G/4G LTE cellular connectivity for over-the-air data transmission and GPS for location services, but 5G compatibility and dedicated short range radios for vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications are emerging.

How are governments influencing telematics adoption?

Governments globally are increasingly mandating various vehicle safety and tracking telematics capabilities like the eCall system in Europe, GLONASS integration requirements across Russia, and public transport vehicle monitoring systems now required in India.

What future innovations are coming to telematics hardware?

Next-generation telematics modules are expected to enable faster and more secure over-the-air data with 5G modems, enhanced cyberdefenses through hardware security modules, vehicle-to-everything (V2X) short range communications, and integration of driver monitoring systems (DMS) that watch driver attention and health.

MK Usmaan