Part 1: A Brief Background on Connected Vehicles

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What is a connected vehicle?

A connected vehicle is any vehicle that has an internet connection. This connectivity facilitates a number of smart functions such as GPS location services, keyless access, and the transfer of data from vehicle sensors back to the manufacturer.

A diagram of data being collected from a connected vehicle, uploaded to the cloud, and downloaded onto a laptop

Manufacturers are also referred to as the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). OEM refers to companies that build the original components that are combined together to make more complex products. e.g., the companies that make the components that go together to make a car.

The history of Connected Vehicles
  • 1980 - BMW put an on-board computer into an F1 car
  • 1996 - introduction of e-call. E-call is in-built functionality that will automatically call the nearest emergency centre in the case of an accident. General Motors introduces OnStar, created in partnership with Motorola Automotive
  • 1997 - First wireless keyfob introduced by Mercedes-benz for the W220 S class
  • 1999 - Introduction of GPS into cars. Mercedes-Benz launches TeleAid for stolen vehicles and roadside assist.
  • 2001 - first remote vehicle diagnostics integrated into cars
  • 2004 - BWM started integrating SIM cards into some of their vehicles
  • 2007 - first instance of data-only telematics
  • 2008 - Introduction of the iPhone and the first smartphone apps for connected cars. Chrysler became the first car company to use the Internet Hotspot feature
  • 2009 - Mercedes-Benz launches mbrace, which allows owners to wirelessly lock and unlock their car doors via their iPhone or BlackBerry device.
  • 2012 - Introduction of MirrorLink, which allows drivers to operate selected smartphone apps via in-built infotainment systems. First Tesla Model S is introduced with 3G and over-the-air updates
  • 2014 - Apple introduces CarPlay at the Geneva Motor Show. Audi begins to offer 4G hotspots and General Motors makes a mass deployment of 4G. Tesla introduces hardware that will enable Autopilot features in the future.
  • 2015 - Mercedes-Benz introduces their Remote Parking Pilot app that allows drivers to control parking outside of their car via Bluetooth and a smartphone.
  • 2018 - 4 million customers are connected to BMW’s ConnectedDrive services
  • 2019 - All new car models in the EU must now have e-call integrated into them.
A brief timeline of the history of Connected Vehicles

We’ve aggregated some of the key milestones from the history of connected vehicles. Here are some other resources you can check out to learn more:

How many connected vehicles are there in 2023?

The exact number of connected vehicles is difficult to determine; No one knows exactly how many exist in either the global or individual domestic markets because not all cars are connected. It’s estimated that by 2030, 96% of all new cars globally will be connected. This is because different manufacturers integrated connectivity at different times, across all different makes and models. Most manufacturers now include some level of connectivity in all new makes and models, with some OEMs including basic connectivity in some models from as early as 2004.

Freight connectivity started earlier than private vehicles because there was a clearer use case for fleet management that was easier to manage and maintain at smaller scales by different freight operators.


It’s estimated there are over 1 million connected vehicles in Australia, with this number expected to grow 10x by 2030.


In 2017, it was estimated that there were over 9 million connected vehicles in the UK.


At 91%, the USA is estimated to have the largest percentage of connected vehicles in-market  - 30 million connected vehicles were sold in the last 2 years.

What are the different types of vehicle connectivity?

There are 7 different types of vehicle connectivity:

  1. Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I)
  2. Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V)
  3. Vehicle to Cloud (V2C)
  4. Vehicle to Pedestrian (V2P)
  5. Vehicle to Device (V2D)
  6. Vehicle to Network (V2N)
  7. Vehicle to Grid (V2G)

Sometimes these different forms of connectivity are collectively referred to as Vehicle to Everything (V2X) technology.

Read our more detailed post about each of the different kinds of vehicle connectivity.

Click here to read Part 2: Connectivity and Autonomy