Seat chief sees future cars as smartphones on wheels

Seat predicts stronger links between mobile phones and vehicles

Cars will increasingly become an extension of the mobile phone, enabling permanent, safe connection, according to Seat’s chief digital officer Fabian Simmer, speaking ahead of next week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

“Promoting sustainable mobility and anticipating driver needs are two future challenges,” he said. “Car sharing and shared use fleets are models of collaborative economy that will become trends in the field of mobility.”

He predicted complete connectivity. “Nowadays,” he said, “we are permanently connected to our mobile phone. The trend is to develop new technologies so that users do not lose this connection when they are driving.”

In the future, he said, the vehicle itself would be connected, allowing car makers to improve the customer experience and offer new functions and services. For example, they will enable drivers to access email and social media and continue driving in complete safety.

“There will be more specific apps to be used inside the car in a safe manner,” he said. “For example, calls can already be made without handling the phone by simply swiping a finger over the screen.”

On sustainable mobility, he said people should try to imagine never arriving late for work because the car would guide them there in time.

“In the future, vehicles will have predictive assistants that help the user efficiently choose the best commuting route to take based on, for example, traffic or weather conditions, which will lead to more sustainable mobility,” he said.

It is estimated that 25 per cent of traffic in Europe’s city centres is due to drivers who are looking for a place to park. A future trend, he said, were apps that detected free spaces with the aim to reduce time and fuel spent on parking.

On the collaborative economy, he said promoting the exchange of goods was one of the keys to the future.

“The trend in mobility will be car sharing among several users, getting access with digital keys on their smartphone,” he said. “Digital apps for this purpose will have increasingly greater impact.”

Seat has its headquarters in Martorell, Barcelona, and exports more than 80 per cent of its vehicles.

The group employs more than 14,000 professionals at its three production centres – Barcelona, El Prat de Llobregat and Martorell. Additionally, the company produces the Ateca and the Toledo in the Czech Republic, the Alhambra in Portugal, and the Mii in Slovakia.

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