Connected Cars are Cleaner Cars

What if your car could provide you with real-time information to help you make more eco-friendly choices – choices that lessen the environmental impact of your car while not changing your driving experience? Connected cars—cars equipped with high-speed Internet access—have the capability to do that and more. Aptly described as “smartphones with wheels,” connected cars include sophisticated telematics and infotainment systems that can enhance safety, security, and functionality, as well as reduce the impact that motor vehicles have on the environment.

At the upcoming Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference, now in its seventh year, attendees will have an opportunity to learn about these connected cars in a panel titled, “‘Connected’ Cars are Cleaner Cars.” This year’s conference simply carries BlueGreen Alliance’s banner theme, “Repair America,” with a focus on repairing the infrastructures and systems we all rely on to ensure the health and safety of our communities while addressing climate change. Connected cars offer opportunities for “greener” transportation through reducing fuel consumption and emissions and can be viewed as one near-term solution to our nation’s energy challenge.

In recent years, advances in broadband and wireless technologies, coupled with the expansion of our country’s networks, have resulted in game-changing Internet capabilities to many mobile devices, starting with our mobile phones. Now, automakers are quite literally taking this show on the road, and the resulting innovations are making our cars both greener and cleaner. “Smart” vehicles offer seamless networking and communication between these cars and other vehicles on the road, drivers’ and passengers’ personal mobile devices, and the infrastructure itself. For example, connected cars can communicate with other cars, alert drivers to risks they can’t see, send warnings about weather or road conditions, and send and receive information between traffic signals and special traffic zones—and all of these capabilities are now possible by a robust system of IP-enabled broadband networks.

The most impressive capability offered by these innovative vehicles is their role in reducing environmental impact. In 2011, Americans wasted 2.9 billion gallons of fuel due to congestion in urban areas. However, on-board diagnostic systems in connected cars can collect relevant data on acceleration and braking and help individual drivers optimize fuel efficiency, avoid congested roadways, and eliminate unnecessary stops. Specialized mobile apps can additionally monitor the condition of the car and check for needed maintenance, helping to ensure safety as well as prime engine efficiency.

When people have access to information that helps them understand the impact of their decisions on the environment, most will choose the eco-friendly option. At the same time, an aggregate view of anonymous data may help manufacturers make broad-scale changes to reduce the environmental impact of cars in the future.

Our country’s IP-enabled broadband networks make all of this possible. In the near future, this vital infrastructure will bring us more options for eco-friendly living and new jobs. And, soon enough, it may turn out that the ultimate mobile device is actually the car.

Are you using telematics or other connectivity capabilities in your car yet? If so, let us know what you’ve noticed by taking this technology on the road.


Susan Diegelman Public Affairs Director AT&T About Susan