Driverless cars and telematics: challenge brings forth opportunity

Every day, more research emerges about future prospects for autonomous vehicles, also known as connected cars and driverless cars. The prospect of a world where vehicles automatically move based on what’s happening around them and requiring minimal human direction has captured the minds of many.

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal examined the impact that a Toyota wrongful death settlement could have on the development of driverless cars.

How soon autonomous vehicles will become mainstream remains to be seen. But telematics, the technology that supports driverless vehicles, is arriving faster. Carmakers are unanimously embracing telematics, which allows transferring car-generated information via telecommunications to a remote device.

Independent aftermarket shops cannot afford to ignore this development. The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) has recognized that telematics will play a big role in the automotive aftermarket, which is why the association has sponsored a “telematics challenge” for the past two years at the AAPEX Show. Last year, Delphi Product & Service Solutions won the first AAIA “telematics challenge” for its aftermarket solution. This year, Verizon Telematics won the honor for its “In Drive” system which offers consumers a choice of telematics services, including safety and security; vehicle operation data; navigation; roadside assistance; diagnostics and service reminders.

AAIA has noted that carmakers are using telematics to steer more aftermarket service to their dealerships. Hence, the technology poses an important challenge to independent shops.

But according to Harlan Siegel, vice president of diagnostics at Launch Tech USA, telematics brings a great opportunity to the independent aftermarket. After speaking with Siegel about Launch’s engagement with this new technology, it behooves every shop owner that hopes to be in business for the next 10 years to get up to speed on telematics.

Siegel claims shops will be able to monitor OBDII equipped makes and models of vehicles wirelessly. Launch’s new device, “GOLO,” can automatically alert a repair shop when their customer’s vehicle needs service or even when there is a malfunction or MIL on. Shops will be able to communicate to customers about service specials or other types of information or even clear an MIL. In addition to maintaining vehicles, telematics will bring aftermarket shops new marketing opportunities.

Hence, the telematics challenge is also an opportunity.

“It’s like a social circle, connecting the vehicle, customer and shop all together,” Siegel says on what GOLO telematics can bring to independent shops.

Launch will be introducing its independent repair shop telematics solution, GOLO, in 2014.

Telematics solutions and driverless vehicles are topics that are generating a lot of interest in not just the automotive industry, but in the consumer media. Hence, automotive shops need to be informed about the technology not just for the reasons noted above; shops need to be prepared to answer questions they are going to be getting from an increasingly informed public.