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Vehicle telematics: the aftermarket industry should care – a lot

Friday, August 25, 2017 - 07:00
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A late model vehicle produces a tremendous stream of information about the location, driving behavior and detailed performance metrics of the car itself. Every second, sensors are gathering pressures, temperatures and position information that tell the savvy listener everything they could want to know about the health of the vehicle systems.

This information is called telematics and in new vehicles it is available to be pulled or pushed to the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) wirelessly, without any action on the part of the vehicle owner.

The fact is that most vehicle owners have no idea that their car or light truck is beaming telematics data back to the OEM. There is no disclosure form at the settlement table informing me that my vehicle will broadcast my location, speed, driving behavior and vehicle health back to the company that built it. When pressed on this privacy matter, most OEMs respond that the data belongs to the vehicle owner. But, the fact is that, there is no agreed upon protocol for sharing the telematics data with the vehicle owner or their chosen aftermarket service provider – even if they knew enough to ask for it.

Why should you care? If your livelihood is in any way associated with the sales of aftermarket parts and services, you should care – a lot! It is projected that by 2020 – that’s three model years from now – 90 percent of the vehicles sold in the U.S. will be equipped with the technology to gather and communicate wireless telematics data. In that year, the population of telematics-equipped vehicles will stand at 250 million. They are rolling off the assembly lines today and have been for years. The capacity of these vehicles to disrupt the auto care industry is immense – and not enough is being done to respond.

Here’s the threat. The vehicle owner, the consumer, has no choice in where their telematics data goes, or even if it goes anywhere at all. An enormous amount of data is already being horded by the OEMs. And that data has tremendous economic value. The car companies know this and they are seeking to monetize the value that can be derived from big telematics data.

Just imagine the impact if the car companies know that a component is worn or a system is failing and notifies the consumer before a breakdown occurs. If that predictive analytics, or proactive diagnostics, can be done at scale, replacement parts could be forward deployed and service bays scheduled more efficiently. Avoiding a breakdown and scheduling service at the convenience of the consumer would be a powerful customer relationship management strategy.

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