German bosses urge government to stop EU proposal on connected cars

© Reuters. Tim Hoettges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom AG stands in front of an Ericsson 5 G antenna during the company’s AGM in Bonn

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The bosses of BMW and Deutsche Telekom (DE:) 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 to Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

Asked for comment, the German Transport Ministry said it was reviewing reservations raised by legal advisers to the European Council – the intergovernmental part of the EU decision process – after a working group meeting on April 5.

These would have to be examined before the government takes a final position on the issue, the ministry said.

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 (DE:) and Renault (PA:) 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.

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