By on April 14, 2014


From this week’s Automotive News, editor Jason Stein talks to former Hyundai CEO and now TrueCar board member John Krafcik about connected cars

“Do you notice that as we talk about increased connectivity in the car, we are also talking about being less connected with the car?” Krafcik asks through a phone line. “Connectivity and autonomy. Sounds like those are at odds with each other, hey?”

Krafcik, who owns a Caterham and a Porsche 911, is one executive who can speak with authority on the inverse relationship between in-car connectivity and feeling a connection with one’s automobile. Unfortunately, we seem to be moving inexorably towards the “connected car” model, at the expense of feeling connected to our cars – and most people don’t seem to mind one bit.

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38 Comments on “QOTD: At What Price Connectivity?...”

  • avatar

    I want a Caterham 7 160 and to be able to throw away all of my phones. Some people want a magic carpet and a telescreen. We’ll probably get something in the middle.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I suppose it depends on the car. When I drive the chevelle, I feel very connected, kind of have to be lest she get away from me. As for my daily Frontier? Not really. I like it enough but am not certainly thinking I have an heirloom. It does have the 6MT so I have to pay attention somewhat.

    Certainly this is a biproduct of the appliancification of the automobile. How does one feel ‘connected’ to their CamCord?

    • 0 avatar

      “How does one feel ‘connected’ to their CamCord?”

      Seatbelt and payments.

    • 0 avatar

      “Certainly this is a biproduct of the appliancification of the automobile”

      How “connected” did people feel in a ’57 Chevy or a ’66 Dart. Probably about the same.

      Automobiles have been appliances for not too far from a century. The appliances just run better and do more than they used to.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah nothing like being connected to bubblegum bushings, sloppy leaf springs, stamped steel control arms…

        I do feel connected to my old Lexus ES, all I have is AM/FM and CDs to distract. I quite like it with the AVS flipped into sport mode could easily smoke a floppy Chevelle around the offramp (and lose badly on the straights!)

      • 0 avatar

        I guess that it depends on how one defines “connected.”

        Floaty suspensions were once an American ideal for luxury. I wouldn’t consider a sofa on wheels with overboosted steering to be particularly “connected.”

        On the other hand, if breakdowns and frequent routine maintenance are what passes for being “connected,” then that golden age of towing, mechanical failure, and roadside repairs is well behind us. (Let’s hope that it stays behind us.)

    • 0 avatar

      Same here with my Elan I feel very connected to the car and the road. On the other hand I’m getting old and tired so I also like being comfortable and listening to the stereo in the Acura.

    • 0 avatar

      Grounded to the ground?

    • 0 avatar

      I felt very connected to my old ’99 Accord (stick). I don’t feel quite as connected to my ’08 Civic (also stick), because of the relatively numb electric steering wheel, and the smaller greenhouse, despite the fact that it’s zippier. But I still love driving every time I get into it.

      Neither car has any noticeable connectivity.

      • 0 avatar
        Unlimited Headroom

        Well, age of a vehicular device has nothing to do with ‘connectivity’…to the road and heart… as I feel very connected to my 1975 TR6 but I didn’t with my ‘older’ 1973 2 door 455 ci Delta 88. I guess a wee bit of added pig iron was a contributing factor.

  • avatar

    I’m semi-connected to my 2012 Impala LTZ.

    It has Bluetooth for the phone, but not for audio. I need to plug in my phone or IPod for music to my Aux input. No touch-screen, either, though the radio has a readout of various things, and the bottom of the speedometer has a message area where you can punch a few buttons to monitor certain functions – some only when in park. At least it does show what direction I’m headed in.

  • avatar

    I don’t mind the idea of a connected vehicle, being able to have internet or streaming music on long trips would be fine for everyone who isn’t driving the car.

    Problem is, most people don’t know when the technology needs to be put down and the car driven. Like any time it’s not in park (or neutral if you will) And with the increasing level of connectivity and nanny aids like BLIS, people are doing less driving and more pseudo-driving while focusing on their mobile device.

    • 0 avatar

      The “future of automobiles” has been around for decades. It’s called a taxi. It’s the sad endgame of the “progress” we’re making. Self driving taxis that unfortunately you pay for even when you aren’t using them.

    • 0 avatar

      I think there’s an advantage to not being connected, even on long trips. My family of origin crossed the country when I was 4, 7, and 8. My eyes were always glued to the window, and I suspect that part of my love of cars and roadtrips stems from having had much more attention than usual from my parents on those trips. I also have vivid memories–the double rainbow in the Colorado rockies on trip #3, I think, getting up really early to start the day in the midwest, and my brother and I watching the stars and then going to sleep in sleeping bags int he back of the ’57 Chevy wagon, on trip #2, seeing the rockies, and thinking we’d be in them in 15 minutes, and a parent explaining, to my disbelief, that it wouild take all day or even into tomorrow. . .

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I was just going to describe how my Legacy feels just right. Feeling like I can fling it around without it trying to kill me or stop me. But then I remembered it feels like that because I’ve spent many hundreds of dollars modifying the suspension to be like that. When I first got it, I would describe it as “floaty” in the corners.
    Car makers have to build cars that my 68 year old mother wants to drive. Think about where you work, I have to imagine for the most part your coworkers are more interested in comfort than dynamics.
    The good thing is that most cars today have a solid base to build off of in order to get what you want. They’re reliable enough to modify all without being difficult to do so. There are very few cars that are perfect right out of the box. And it’s our jobs, as enthusiasts, to make them that way.

  • avatar

    Amen to this one in spades !!!

    As ALL psychological studies have repeatedly shown: We humans are utterly incapable of doing two or more tasks at the same time well . Which is to say the concept of multitasking is an abject Myth promoted by corporations in order to try and get more productivity/efficiency out of their employees … when in fact what it actually accomplishes ironically , is to greatly diminish productivity , creativity as well as efficiency

    Which is to say when it comes to driving … if you’re doing anything else [ including conversing with the person next to you ] while driving you are disconnected from the very act of driving . The more complex the 2nd task [ texting emailing tweeting etc ] the more disconnected you become . The more tasks … the more once again you are no longer connected to driving the car . Period ! ZERO arguments ! None that can be backed up scientifically at least

    So as to the question someone earlier asked about how connected you were back in the day to a car with mushy springs and vague [ in comparison to todays cars ] handling when there was no infotainment available ?

    A h*ll of a lot more connected than some little wingnut in a Quarter Million Dollar Supercar texting tweeting , emailing and calling on his/her SmartPhone today is ….. by a long shot !

    BTW … Seeing as how from the above posts …. NObody paid any attention to the theme of the article .

    This one is about being connected as a driver to the car you are driving .

    NOT how well the car in question does or does not handle

    Trying to multitask a little too much while reading perhaps and gotten trapped by your own inattentiveness ?

    If so … re-read paragraph one of this post ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Wow, for once I agree with you. I read the paragraph as an intrinsic connection to your vehicle, not if my cell phone will ring through the radio speakers….

  • avatar

    My gf and friends more or less forced me to put a carpet back in my Sierra IS. As it was completley devoid of any soundproofing and lowered with gas shocks and manual steering it was a blast to drive even at legal speeds. My brother has a ’98 Integra Type-R (same thing as my IS, just fwd and 76 horses more -some rear seat space, but still has a decent hatch) which his gf won’t take any long trips in. Most fun cars I’ve ever driven. If I didn’t hate wearing a helmet and leather overalls (and afraid of breaking my neck going through a guardrail in the rain) I’d have a motorbike.
    My current car is my first to have a bluetooth handsfree though, and it’s brilliant whenever someone calls me, but I’d trade that for the old noisy Sierra anyday…

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    I’ll take the Caterham.

    The connectivity can be shoved up Google’s bu…er…Obamahole.

  • avatar

    My cars are as connected as I want them to be. Bluetooth for phone in the three daily drivers, and that is it. I rarely use it, just relative emergencies. The Rover has a Nakamichi head unit that does streaming, but I usually plug in – streaming kills the phone battery fairly quickly.

    The Abarth has some voice control features I almost never use, just for dialing the phone. Otherwise all three have decently laid out controls with nary a screen to be seen.

    The Spitfire has a stereo that you can’t hear above 45mph.

    • 0 avatar

      “The Spitfire has a stereo that you can’t hear above 45mph.”

      Doesn’t matter. That Rolls Royce Griffon engine sounds angelic.

      Ohhh, you meant THAT Spitfire.

      • 0 avatar
        Unlimited Headroom

        I’d give my left n%# to be in a Spit (Supermarine) at ANY speed. After I win the lotto, I’ll pick up a Merlin, bolt it to a trailer and play in the back yard…without ear muffs.
        I don’t play the stereo in the Triumph as the sound of the straight six exhaust note is all the music I need to hear.
        The Wee Spit is nice to hear too as I was with a couple of them just this w/e.
        BTW, I saw and touched’ an XK150S, yes, an S.
        Somewhere I have a *.wav file of a spitfire flying around you. Oh, goosebumps! Now then I will be a petrolhead.

  • avatar

    Many if not most people these days have a smartphone in their pocket not set to airplane mode anyway.

    Integrating some of that phone’s features into the car is a natural outcome hardly worth arguing over.

  • avatar

    Why not both?

    I’m of the opinion that it should be up to the user how much connectivity is necessary in their own automobile.

    Of our 3 cars all are connected in both manner – A2DP streaming, speakerphone, and navigation over Bluetooth, as well as a conveniently placed cell phone mount on the dash to provide a screen when necessary.

    The S2000 and the Rodeo were simple headunit swaps, as they had easily replaceable DIN units. The S2000’s speakerphone is largely useless with the top down, but streaming and USB work fine otherwise. My wife’s Mazda3 was the lowest trim with standard Bluetooth when we bought it; the stereo and connectivity are surprisingly analog otherwise.

    What’s unfortunate is that manufacturers have moved away from a standard DIN or double DIN radio in favor of molded dash pieces, taking away a customer’s ability to make their connectivity decisions on their own without significant expenditure.

    • 0 avatar

      You can get bluetooth devices that connect to the auxiliary input for cheap (mine was $40, Kinivo BTC450). Depending on your car, it might take some work to get a clean install. I’m lucky where the mic/bluetooth receiver matches the instrument panel plastics almost perfectly and is hidden anyway, plus the aux input and a power point are in the glovebox.

      I’ve had it for about a month streaming internet radio to it for two hours per day. Audio streaming has been perfect. I don’t use the phone features often, but I haven’t had any complaints for the short conversations I have had. The thing is fantastic.

  • avatar

    There’s only one right answer. Jeep.

  • avatar

    There’s benefits to both. I don’t want to be “connected to the road” during a 12 hour road trip. But then I don’t want to be connected to anything BUT the road when I am blasting through the twisties on my motorcycle. I look forward to automated cars as they will enable me to enjoy transportation all the time, as well as make the roads safer by getting rid of all the folks who hate driving anyway.

  • avatar

    People look at me like I’ve lost my mind when I tell them the next car I want is a base Wrangler…manual trans, hand-crank windows, soft top, steel wheels. My only concession will be the desire for air-conditioning.

  • avatar

    When I saw the title, I though it was going to be like this.

    The idea of this in Europe is to get them closer together so they can fill more of the road without building another lane.

    They are also into these computer controlled transmissions. Supposedly, they are working on using GPS with contour maps to optimize getting up and down hills.

    One of the problems being that employee drivers aren’t very motivated the way an owner/operator would be. Fuel savings goes straight to the bottom line in an ultra competitive industry.

    Back to the real topic …. I have started driving more with the sound system turned off.

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