V2X Deployment Strategies and Smart Cities Business Model Paradigms

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By Dominique Bonte | 2Q 2017 | IN-4614

After having languished for more than a decade, Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I)—collectively referred to as V2X—are finally gaining momentum as illustrated by a growing number of initiatives and product launches.

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V2X Gaining Momentum


After having languished for more than a decade, Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I)—collectively referred to as V2X—are finally gaining momentum as illustrated by a growing number of initiatives and product launches:

  • The emergence of cellular V2X, and 5G in the future, promoted by the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA)
  • Car OEMs launching car models with embedded V2V modules, GM (U.S.: Cadillac) and Toyota (ITS Connect, Japan: Prius, Lexus RX, Toyota Crown)
  • V2V mandate in the U.S. being prepared
  • An increasing number of V2X trials being conducted across the globe (U.S., Europe, and Asia)
  • Roadside infrastructure for V2I applications planned or deployed in countries like Japan and China

The benefits of V2X in terms of non-line-of-sight, medium range visibility, collective perception, and cooperative mobility are now more widely understood and acknowledged, especially as it relates to its role in active safety, in combination with ADAS, to provide the reliability and robustness needed for level 4/5 automation. At the very least, there seems to be growing consensus around the need for V2X, though some car OEMs and other players are still claiming in-vehicle sensors is all that is needed.  

V2X Market Adoption and Attachment Rates: a Hard Problem to Solve


It’s one thing to conceptualize and design V2X technology; it’s quite another to deploy it. The single most important challenge V2X is facing is the need for near 100% penetration levels to fully capitalize on its benefits. For two cars to communicate with each other, both need to be equipped with V2X modules. In other words, it doesn’t make sense to roll out V2X slowly during a period in which the chance of one V2X-equipped vehicle to meet another one is slim. Yet, there is one case in the U.S. with V2X-equipped Cadillac vehicles. 

One might argue that rolling out roadside V2X infrastructure on traffic lights and other street furniture might bring additional value in the form of V2I applications like the Green Light Optimized Speed Advisory (GLOSA) available from day one. However, adding V2X modules to hundreds of thousands of traffic lights is prohibitively expensive and hard to justify as long as there aren’t enough vehicles equipped with V2X. In a way, this represents a double “chicken and egg” situation whereby everybody waits on everybody else.

The planned V2V mandate in the U.S. is not going to solve this stalemate. It will only apply to new vehicles resulting in a long delay for reaching 100% attachment rates across the entire installed vehicle base of 250 million vehicles due to the long lifecycle of vehicles (10 years or more). Neither will cellular V2X bring much relief; while high attachment rates on new vehicles will be reached faster than with DSRC in the absence of mandates, the same “installed base” problem remains.  

Equipping existing vehicles with aftermarket V2X modules (DSRC or cellular) could accelerate penetration rate growth in the installed vehicle base but it is something car OEMs shy away from due to the lack of control, risk of tampering with, or the overall less reliable nature of aftermarket solutions compared with embedded systems. Moreover, V2X needs to be tightly integrated with ADAS, HMI, and the overall autonomous vehicle architecture, which can only be achieved through embedded designs.  

A Step Forward: Smart Cities


So far, the V2X industry has not come up with a credible, convincing strategy for widespread installation, adoption, and use of V2X capabilities. Relying on consumers to pay for optional V2X functionality and hereby achieving widespread consumer adoption within reasonable timeframes is wishful thinking. Offering it as a standard feature on new vehicles might help but will still not bring V2X to the market any time soon.

A possible way out from this “chicken and egg” stalemate can be offered by smart city deployment models within future car sharing and Mobility as a Service (MaaS) environments:

  • In future smart cities, no consumer-owned vehicles will be allowed in city centers, which will be exclusively served by fleets of shared driverless vehicles; a much smaller number of vehicles will be able to address the mobility needs within cities.
  • These fleet vehicles will be purchased in bulk and come equipped with the latest vehicle technology including V2X; these driverless vehicles will be designed specifically for car sharing and will not be available for purchase by consumers.  Moreover, they will be professionally serviced and maintained in near real-time and refurbished and/or replaced much more frequently compared to consumer-owned vehicles; and as stated above, the higher cost of these “high tech” vehicles will be offset by the much smaller number of required vehicles and “As a Service” business models.
  • Installing roadside-based V2X infrastructure can be limited to city environments, largely reducing costs and accelerating deployment; yet, by 2050, 70% of the population will live in cities anyway.
  • Concerns about remaining safety or security risks will be largely offset by the low average speed within city centers.

The above approach does away with the impossible challenge to push advanced technology into mainstream consumer-owned vehicles. Instead, it is focused on equipping a relatively small number of shared vehicles with the latest technology rapidly. The very same smart city/MaaS paradigm applies equally well to other hard technology adoption issues: electric vehicles (EVs) and driverless vehicles themselves. It is time for the automotive industry to abandon the century-old B2C approach and start exploring B2B models within smart city contexts. Smart cities offer a feasible launch path not only for advanced vehicle technology, but also for new business models and mobility paradigms.