I guess most of you have heard of
eCall, an EU initiative with the purpose to bring rapid assistance to motorists involved in a collision anywhere in the European Union.
In the event of a serious accident, eCall automatically dials
- Europe's single emergency number - and
communicates the vehicle's exact location to emergency services, the time of incident and the direction of travel (most important on motorways), even if the driver is unconscious or unable to make a phone call.
The system is designed to speed up emergency response times and it's estimated that it could save up to 2,500 lives across Europe each year.
On 28 April 2015 the European Parliament voted in favour of the eCall regulation which requires all new cars be equipped with eCall technology from April 2018 and...here we are!
After many years of discussions (the first time I heard of the eCall concept was in the early 00s), now the time has arrived and as of 01 Apr 2018 all new vehicles made in the EU should include the eCall road accident emergency system.
In principle this is a great achievement for all of us, however this comes much later than commercial solutions already available and there could be some confusion.
Initially eCall could not take off because it relies on the EC-wide 112 that was adopted with different time frames by EU Member States. Additional delays were due to the incomplete European
Galileo Satellite System
on which eCall relies on; with all these issues the private sector spotted the business opportunity.
In these days some car manufacturers and some insurance companies offer similar systems to their customers. The former did it to increase brand loyalty whilst the latter also to provide customers with cheaper policy prices as the system installed on board vehicles is also used to measure driving styles, annual mileage and virtuous customers with low mileage could enjoy a good discount on the annual price of their car insurance.
How the eCall is going to enter this market is totally unknown. It is clear that only new vehicles will have the new system installed so in theory these customers would not need that one from the insurance. But what about price discounts enjoyed so far? Should they accept an additional system installed, in some way replicating the eCall service, just to continue to enjoy their discounts?
How will cars manufacturers react as they have their assistance service already in place, which of course involve costs, whereas they must install
eCall by law on new vehicles? This is a totally new scenario to analyse.
The only good news for sure is that Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs) could benefit from the eCall service that could possibly make accidents - such as
that one happened in Arizona, US, the other day
- less serious, maybe... hopefully...
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