German bosses urge govt to stop EU proposal on connected cars

FRANKFURT, April 15 (Reuters) - The bosses of BMW and Deutsche Telekom have urged the German government to take action to block a European Commission proposal that would set a Wi-Fi-based standard for connected cars.

In a letter, BMW CEO Harald Krueger and Telekom’s Tim Hoettges warned that ruling out an alternative approach based on 5G mobile networks would leave Europe lagging rivals like China when it comes to the future of mobility.

“We are convinced that mandating Wi-Fi technology will cause significant delay to the European rollout of car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication,” the CEOs said in the letter, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

The EU executive is seeking to set benchmarks for internet-connected cars, a market for carmakers, telecoms operators and equipment makers expected to be worth billions of euros a year.

The Commission’s preference for the Wi-Fi-based ITS-G5 standard would give Volkswagen and Renault an edge over BMW, Daimler, Ford and PSA Group which endorse the rival 5G standard called C-V2X.

Advocates of C-V2X, which could for example enable cars to ‘talk’ directly to each other to avoid colliding, say the technology works on existing 4G LTE networks and would be enhanced by the rollout of next-generation 5G services.

“C-V2X is a game-changer for safety,” an alliance of groups representing the European information technology and automotive industries said in a separate statement on Monday.

A key committee of EU lawmakers rejected the Commission’s proposal last week. The European parliament will vote this Wednesday in a plenary session in which a simple majority would be needed to block it.

The European Council also has a say in the issue and would also need a blocking majority to derail the proposal, say officials in Brussels.

No comment was immediately available from the office of German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer, to whom the CEOs’ letter was addressed. Copies were sent to other German government departments and leading lawmakers in the European Parliament. (Reporting by Douglas Busvine and Foo-Yun Chee; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)