Why MQTT Has Become the De Facto Standard for the Connected Car

Written by Ian Skerrett

Category: HiveMQ

Published: October 29, 2020


The automotive industry is seeing increasing demands to offer connectivity solutions to consumers. Digitalization and connectivity have been top priorities for automotive executives for the last several years. In fact, connected car market size is projected to grow to US$ 225.16 billion by 2027, an average growth rate of 17.1% from 2019.

The growth of this demand is being driven by:

  • consumers expecting a more connected experience while driving in their car
  • increased efficiencies in fleet management solutions
  • new mobility services, like car and ride sharing
  • and in the near future, vehicle to infrastructure (V2X) initiatives that improve the safety and convenience through smarter road infrastructure and also advanced driving infrastructure and autonomous driving.

To offer an integrated connectivity solution, most OEMs and tier 1 suppliers have launched or are developing their next generation connected car platforms. At HiveMQ, we have had the privilege of working with many of these leading companies since they are using MQTT and HiveMQ at the core of their connected car platform. In fact, we have noticed a trend that MQTT is fast becoming the de facto standard for connecting vehicles with the cloud.

It is interesting to understand why MQTT has risen to dominance in the automotive industry. Some OEM and suppliers have had connectivity solutions available in their automobiles for many years. First generation connectivity solutions were often based on SMS and HTTP. Unfortunately, these technologies were not built for the connected car use case. HTTP depends on consistent network connectivity, while connected cars operate over mobile networks which are notoriously unreliable. SMS does not provide the real-time messaging experience that is required for a connected car service. For one company, unlocking a car door from a mobile phone took upwards of 30 seconds using SMS and HTTP. Clearly not acceptable for consumers that expect immediate responsiveness in their digital experiences. Finally, SMS and HTTP were prohibitively expensive due to their high requirements for network bandwidth.

It turns out that MQTT is ideally suited for the connected car use case. Unlike HTTP, MQTT can keep a persistent session between an MQTT client and MQTT broker. So when a car moves through a dead zone in a cellular network, the session still exists once the network has reconnected. This means there is no requirement for the costly HTTP handshake to re-establish a connection. MQTTs publish/subscribe protocol is ideally suited for broadcasting messages out to a fleet of cars. HTTP is able to handle sending vehicle telemetry data to the cloud but cloud to vehicle messaging is very complicated. With MQTT, a connected car platform can broadcast a message to a single vehicle or a fleet of vehicles. Finally, MQTT is much more efficient in network bandwidth. Some of our customers report a 30% reduction in network traffic due to the smaller MQTT payload size and the decrease in the request/response pattern of HTTP.

MQTT is so widely adopted in the connected car industry that we predict by the end of 2022, over 50% of new vehicles produced will be connected using MQTT. HiveMQ customers are leading the way. Some examples:

  • Today if you buy a BMW or Audi, your car is likely connected using MQTT. BMW car sharing service DriveNow also uses MQTT for connecting their mobile app with the car.
  • eCarx is a subsidiary of Chinese OEM Geely, who have over 2 million cars connected with MQTT and HiveMQ.
  • Rimac Automobili, famed for their electric sports cars, is also using MQTT and HiveMQ.
  • HiveMQ also works with the leading connected car platform providers, such as SiriusXM, Autonomic, a subsidiary of Ford, and other providers. Autonomic is building a Transportation Mobility Cloud to enable connected cars. They have millions of cars connecting with MQTT and HiveMQ.
  • Finally, tier 1 suppliers, such as ZF, are developing new connectivity solutions for their customers using HiveMQ and MQTT.

HiveMQ is actively involved in proof of concepts with other OEM and tier 1 suppliers so we are confident more of the automotive industry is embracing MQTT as their standard.

The connected car use case is the perfect success story for MQTT. An entire industry is able to embrace an open standard that solves key technical challenges for everyone in the industry. HiveMQ has been a proud partner with many of these companies who are adopting MQTT. We look forward to helping more companies build connected car platforms.

About Ian Skerrett

Ian is Head of Marketing for HiveMQ.
Contact Ian

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