Auto Electronics

Strategy Analytics sees audio streaming boosting automotive Bluetooth

Bluetooth is likely to account for 94% of in-vehicle communications system shipments by 2013, the research firm Strategy Analytics says in a new report, “Automotive Bluetooth: Head Unit Integration and A2DP Present New Opportunities.”

The migration of Bluetooth for music streaming into vehicles and portable navigation is increasing automotive Bluetooth adoption, according to report author Clare Hughes. Key product trends over the past 12 months were the emergence of audio streaming via the Bluetooth Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP), Bluetooth integration on embedded automotive infotainment systems, and an increase in the number of portable navigation devices offering hands-free Bluetooth functionality, Hughes said.

“Audio streaming using the Bluetooth A2DP profile is a key current trend in wireless and portable device markets. This trend is now starting to migrate into automotive markets, led by Japanese system suppliers in the aftermarket,” she noted. “Carmakers including Fiat, Ford and Toyota, are also offering embedded infotainment systems that support Bluetooth A2DP audio streaming.”

Widespread automotive availability, strong consumer demand, and regulatory push have also provided a strong platform for rapid growth in automotive Bluetooth option take rates, according to Hughes, but she also sees significant underdeveloped automotive Bluetooth opportunities. Strategy Analytics estimates that in 2006 only 5% of new vehicles produced in North America had embedded automotive Bluetooth functionality compared with 11% of European new vehicle production. Hughes notes that promotion of Bluetooth as a new vehicle option is rather weak at the carmaker and dealer levels, and optional pricing is high compared with aftermarket hands-free solutions.

Firm also sees new potential in ultracapacitors

In a new Automotive Electronics service report, Strategy Analytics asks, “Will Ultracapacitors Replace Batteries?” The report analyzes ultracapacitor potential in light of Toyota’s victory in last month’s Tokachi 24-hour endurance race. Its Supra HV-R hybrid was equipped with ultracapacitors in lieu of rechargeable batteries

The Supra was able to store large quantities of energy quickly from regenerative braking and apply the stored power quickly. Strategy Analytics notes that BMW has demonstrated the same ability in its “syncap” concept, where two-thirds of total vehicle torque is generated by the syncaps, resulting in faster acceleration and better fuel economy.

Capacitors use a pair of closel spaced conductors to store energy in an electric field. Capacitors are lighter than rechargeable batteries, don’t require the use of toxic materials, and have a better charging/discharging cycle lifetime. Advanced materials such as carbon nanotubes may further extend ultracapacitor abilities, according to report author Kevin Mak.

“Impending emissions legislation will force carmakers to look at energy-saving technologies,” Mak predicted. “Developments are apace to use ultracapacitors in ‘stop-start’ and regenerative braking systems to reduce fuel consumption and emissions and power additional electrical functions. Full hybrid powertrains are also likely to use ultracapacitors alongside batteries, bringing a more balanced solution.”

Chris Webber, vice president of Strategy Analytics’ Global Automotive Practice, added that effective energy storage and recovery from ultracapacitors requires dynamic processor control and power converters, thus creating new opportunities for electronic module and semiconductor vendors.

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