How 2016 is shaping up to be the year of connected cars

Sam Dewey

2016 is shaping up to be a big year for connected, smart cars, and from the looks of it, Chicago has positioned itself as a major player in those innovations.

This week, Chicago-based parking app ParkWhizParkWhizVisit their siteView company profile+ Create Job Alert announced a partnership with Ford’s FordPass app. FordPass, which debuted this week at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show, offers a suite of transportation services as part of a larger effort to streamline the way tech-savvy consumers get from Point A to Point B.

As one of the two primary partners in the relationship, ParkWhiz helps drivers find and pay for parking in advance, overriding the parking pain point many urban drivers know all too well.

“We’re here to help drivers find and pay for parking in advance in a more frictionless way,” said ParkWhiz co-founder and CEO Aashish Dalal.

Where the partnership provides FordPass users a solution to their parking frustrations, it also lends ParkWhiz some important boons as well: credibility and exposure in an increasingly crowded parking lot.

Dalal said ParkWhiz is the first piece of what he sees as a shifting business model in the overall transportation ecosystem. As it stands, consumers have a myriad of transportation choices, from driving, ridesharing, and public transit to walking, with businesses racing to eliminate pain points and elevate overall experience at every corner, he said.

“I think Ford recognizes at a broader level that there’s convergence across all of these different modes of transportation,” Dalal said. “What’s happening around the connected car is the starting point of a massive wave in how everything is going to evolve over the next decade.”

And it’s not just ParkWhiz that’s contributing to those shifts. At CES, Chicago’s HERE announced their new HD Live Map, which could prove itself a turning point in the realization of autonomous driving. The map, prophesied as the “car industry’s most intelligent vehicle sensor” by HERE higher-ups, provides a real-time awareness of road conditions that might help prove the viability (and trustworthiness) of self-driving cars.

For ParkWhiz’s part, Dalal said 2016 represents an opportunity to continue building leadership in the parking space. But that’s only part of the bigger picture.

“Parking, ridesharing — they’re all sort of siloed categories. I think what you’re going to start to see in 2016 at a higher level is a coming together of these different ways of helping consumers get from Point A to Point B … where you’re bringing together different individual experiences into one singular type of application [like FordPass],” he said.

ParkWhiz, he added, is already part of numerous conversations of this nature — and promises some exciting announcements in the near future.

Photo via ParkWhiz.

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