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The high stakes aftermarket telematics game

Friday, December 22, 2017 - 09:00
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At AAPEX this past year, an announcement was made that changes the aftermarket telematics story in an important way. Mitchell 1 announced a program in partnership with Entricit that links as many as 8 million vehicles that are currently equipped with a plug-in telematics device with the shop of their choosing running Mitchell 1’s shop management system – Manager SE.

Entricit has partnered with many of the leading plug-in telematics device makers and provides connectivity to the Entricit Cloud. Mitchell 1 is a market-leading provider of shop management systems and connects many thousands of shops to their cloud. Through a seamless integration between Entricit and Mitchell 1, the moment a Check Engine light comes on, the vehicle identity, location, mileage and trouble code are routed to the shop that the consumer has previously chosen. With this level of connectivity, the aftermarket has a genuine chance to contact the customer, schedule an appointment and service the vehicle.

This solution adds a valuable new feature to the dongle at no added cost to the consumer. It also integrates seamlessly with the shop management system from Mitchell 1, providing the shortest and most efficient path from detection to diagnosis to scheduled appointment. The cost to the consumer (or fleet operator) is zero after the initial dongle purchase and the cost to the shop is fixed and minimal, regardless of the number of devices they are connected with.

Perhaps most important of all is the connectivity with devices from multiple suppliers through a single interface. Previously, a shop had to commit to the dongle-A plan or the dongle-B plan – and hope their partner was the winner in the marketplace. The Mitchell 1 /Entricit solution allows the consumer and the shop to remain loyal to the technology they already have. They just added more value to aftermarket telematics painlessly – and that’s very cool.

As exciting as the Mitchell 1 announcement is, it remains an aftermarket plug-in remedy to a critical automotive problem. Connectivity through a device plugged into the OBDII port is limited and could be jeopardized if future generations of vehicles make use of wireless connectivity – and the OBD port goes away.

Industry associations and all aftermarket stakeholders must redouble their efforts to compel cooperation from the vehicle manufacturers. The scale of this challenge has been called Right to Repair part 2, or the Consumers Right to Choose. The difference from Right to Repair is that we don’t have 10 years to wage a campaign with the public and lawmakers to bring the car companies to the table.

By 2020 there will be 250 million vehicles in the U.S. that communicate wirelessly only with the OE. Perhaps 10 percent of those will choose to plug-in a redundant aftermarket device. The remaining 225 million will “phone home” to the OE when trouble is detected. The time for the aftermarket to act in a bold and decisive manner is now.

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