Vehicle telematics: the aftermarket industry should care – a lot

Aug. 25, 2017
Big data is big business and as it stands now, the aftermarket is not in the game. Vehicle manufacturers are the only ones with access to this data and they have signaled their concerns in making it available to the car owner or the parties of their choosing.

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.

Big data is big business and as it stands right now, the aftermarket is not in the game. Vehicle manufacturers are the only ones with access to this data and they have signaled their concerns in making it available to the car owner or the parties of their choosing. A technical proposal for a secure vehicle interface (SVI) has been developed by a coalition of industry organizations including the Auto Care Association, AASA, AAA, AIA Canada, ASA and the Equipment and Tool Institute.

The position of the Telematics Task Force is “Vehicle owners own the data being generated by their vehicles and they should be able to use that data to direct the service of their vehicles to the location of their choice. The members of the Telematics Task Force believe that independent vehicle parts and service providers can work hand-in-hand with vehicle manufacturers to use telematics to benefit vehicle owners over the entire life of their vehicles.”

Safety and security concerns are often raised in the discussion of access to telematics data. Of course, no solution should allow for an independent technician to remotely slam on the brakes at 60 MPH. Nor, should customer and vehicle information be accessible by anyone other than those authorized by the vehicle owner. These important protocols can and must be addressed in coordinated efforts between the car manufacturers and other interested stakeholders.

The reality is that modern vehicles come equipped to communicate with other vehicles and with the roadside infrastructure. Federal transportation rulemaking should not ignore the need for vehicles to communicate with the shops that service them – both independent and OE-aligned shops.

For several years now, there has been industry-wide hand wringing and posturing. Earlier this year, there was a written technical proposal to SAE International, signed by all interested parties – both aftermarket and OEM – advocating the further development of the SVI. That overture was ignored and never got a reply. That’s puzzling and unacceptable.

This freight train of an issue is barreling down the tracks. In fact, it’s already here. There will be some 250 million vehicles within 36 months that the aftermarket service channel won’t know are in need of service until after it’s too late. If I am a car manufacturer, that seems like a poor way to build brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. For the independent service channel, it seems a certain path to limited consumer choice in the time and place of service. And, its’s a huge blind spot for the service requirements of a sophisticated fleet of vehicles.

Everyone reading this should care a lot about telematics and the consumer’s right to manage the flow of information from their vehicle. One way to express how much you care is to come to the Auto Care Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C. October 3-4. See for more information and to register.

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About the Author

Scott Luckett | Chief Information Officer, AAIA

Scott Luckett is vice president, industry strategy for GCommerce, Inc. where he has responsibility for industry partnerships and major account development. Previously, Luckett rose through several positions at the Auto Care Association over 17 years and as CIO had responsibility for the Technology Standards Committee, the Telematics Task Force and the National Catalog Managers Association (NCMA). Before Auto Care, Luckett was an executive at a local automotive WD and prior to that was a top sales producer for Triad Systems (now Epicor). Luckett is a recipient of the Northwood University Automotive Aftermarket Management Education Awards and the Northwood Founders Service Award for his contributions to training and education in the Auto Care Industry.

About GCommerce
GCommerce connects over 1,200 suppliers with 600 retailers and wholesalers, exchanging in excess of 2 million transactions monthly. The GCommerce Virtual Inventory Cloud (VIC) is a powerful supply chain visibility solution to support drop ship and special orders. PBEPRO is a repository of rich, PIES-compliant product content for non-application product categories. GCommerce also offers an online web commerce platform, AutosoEZ, and a robust order fulfillment and shipping management application called Fulfillment Master. GCommerce is Driving Digital Commerce. Contact GCommerce at (515) 288-5850 or write to [email protected] to learn more.

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