Testing eCall (don’t worry, we haven’t had an accident)

The eCall. An emergency solution in case of an accident. From the 31st of March 2018 all new vehicle models will be equipped of the eCall device. It will either be on the dashboard or on the ceiling of your vehicle. In reality a lot of manufacturers have already equipped their vehicles with this solution, this is the reason why we are at present talking about a “private” eCall; officially coming into effect since the 1st of April the eCall device became “public”.

bCall Button
bCall Button

 

We wanted to know a little bit more about this solution which should allow for faster and more responsive emergency services, and thus reduce the mortality rate and further injuries on the road.

This is when we decided, Bernard Tahay and myself, to carry out a full-scale test. First of all, you have to know that to trigger the call there are two possibilities: either it is automatic in case of a collision (for example: activation of an airbag or an alarm signal), or the call can be activated manually. As we wanted to find out more about this service, we, of course, triggered the call manually. To initiate the distress call, in the model we were testing (BMW 3 Series), you just need to open the SOS button overlay. This is on the car’s ceiling, and once the button is switched on, the light turns red. Before final activation and issuing the call, you have 5 seconds to cancel in case the button gets pressed by mistake. Subsequently, the car sends its own data to the emergency service platform, and about 15 seconds later, you hear a ringtone. After 20 seconds, an operator answers our call.

 

The operator received our call asking if we had an urgent problem or if we needed assistance.

 

We replied that no, we didn’t, but we took advantage of the conversation to ask the operator a few questions regarding the operation of the private eCall:

Ecall screen
bcall screen
Do you need a telephone subscription for eCall?

 

The operator confirmed that the emergency solution should be installed as from now on, but he was not well informed about the procedures applicable in April 2018. He told us that for any particular request concerning the operation of the “Connected Drive” service, we needed to contact the “Hotline/Mobile Care” service.

Once you are on the platform, is your call “dispatched” to the requested services?
The operator didn’t really know the answer to this question. We haven’t been able to find out more information on this point.
Can you see our exact position and our data?

 

The operator can locate us well, but not our exact position on the street. Regarding our contact information, he saw a name, an email address and a telephone number. They use the same information that you gave when buying the vehicle.

If the person driving the car doesn’t speak French, what happens?

 

As the vehicle is registered in France, the call transfer goes automatically to the French platform. The operator however sees the flag of the country concerned on screen. Very often operators are multilingual, they can handle the call themselves. If necessary, they can still transfer the call to the headquarters in Barcelona (Spain).

Which platform will I be directed to if I have an accident abroad?

 

As we said before, the vehicle is purchased and registered in France. As a result, it will always be the French platform that will pick up and send the call to the services concerned.

Is a concierge system, for example, included in the eCall service?

 

It is the same platform, but eCall is primarily designed for accidents that you are either involved in or witness or if you encounter an obstacle on the road, for example, the operator told us about a person who had called to indicate that a mattress was on the road. For mechanical breakdowns, the call must be transferred to the “traditional” breakdown services. If you do press the eCall button when you have broken down, the eCall platform can always direct you to breakdown services.

During the call, we can hear some background noise, can you tell us if there are many teams working on the same platform?

 

It all depends on the manufacturer and also on its market segment. We called BMW that has already tested their eCall equipment which is part of Groupe BOSCH in Barcelona.

So, what did we think about this?

 

The operator was very patient, relaxed and informal. He was not reading from a script. He made sure that we had all the information to know how eCall works. On the other hand, he was not well informed about the roll-out of the project and how it will be put in place. But then again, perhaps it isn’t really his role. At the end of the call, no matter what the situation is, the operator always hangs up. The total duration of the call was about 10 minutes.

 

Key Info:
  • Call pick-up within 30 seconds
  • Length of call about 10 minutes
  • Works properly, transmits GPS data/contacts/vehicle info and nationality of driver

 

Now you can drive with peace of mind, thanks to eCall, so take a good look, because perhaps you are already equipped with it and you just haven’t noticed!