Aussie firm makes world first US car tech

Like Fitbit for cars, Australian tech will let US car owners check information including fuel consumption, speed and driver behaviour on their smartphones.

Australian innovation means US giant General Motors has become the first car maker in the world to offer vehicles embedded with tech allowing owners to track real-time performance on an app.

Melbourne-based Connexion Media developed the Commercial Link service for the world's second largest auto maker, which is pitching it as a way for small and medium businesses to keep track of vehicles with a view to boosting efficiency.

Similar to the way in which Fitbit collates personal fitness data, Commercial Link allows car owners to check information including fuel consumption, speed and driver behaviour on their smartphones or a browser.

Connexion Media chief executive George Parthimos said companies like his were performing a valuable role as cars are integrated into the internet of things.

"Manufacturers are coming to us and saying `what do you have for us?' because they don't really know what they want," Mr Parthimos said.

"There's some basics like radio and parking, but they're also looking for what else is out there and what's next."

Connexion announced the deal last year but the client was only unveiled as GM, which owns Holden and Chevrolet, on Thursday (Australian time) at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

"Companies in Australia don't typically get to win these sort of international deals through a competitive tender process, so the fact we managed to get through it and beat some Nasdaq-listed competitors to win the deal is testament to Australian innovation," Mr Parthimos said.

GM will market the service and split the $US10 ($A14) monthly subscription fee with Connexion, which generated just over $100,000 of revenue in the 12 months to June 30, 2015, but forecasts $3 million this year and $35 million by 2018.

Mr Parthimos said his company's software is being trialled by three more car makers in the US and five in Europe, adding that Connexion expects to have so-called innovation centres running in Melbourne and Detroit in the second half of 2016.

They will allow local startups lacking in scale to pitch ideas through Connexion to major manufacturers.

"The car makers aren't technology experts, but they don't want to give up control of that eight-inch screen in the centre console," Mr Parthimos said.

"That little screen there is going to become very, very valuable real estate. They want to own it and control it. They also don't want to lose the data that's flowing out of that car, they want to control the data as well."

At 1517 AEDT, Connexion Media's shares were up by three cents, or 12 per cent, at 28 cents.

Source: AAP

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