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How Telematics Evolved to be Factory Standard

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June 17, 2020—Telematics and the underlying data are a huge topic for repairers and OEs. There's also a bit of debate (check out this ADAPT story for more) around the topic.

But how did we get to this point? An article from National Oil and Lube News illuminates the trail that's led to here.


From Consumer Product to Factory Floor

Derek Kaufman, a managing partner at Schwartz Advisors, has done a lot of research on the topic. Starting in 2012, he produced a 52-part, multi-year series on telematics for the Auto Care Association (ACA) called “Telematics Trendline.” 

Back then, telematics was just emerging, and it wasn’t entirely clear how it could be used. In some ways, it was “technology for technology’s sake,” Kaufman says. It was most often marketed by third-party companies selling subscription-type diagnostic services.

That technology has changed a lot, even in the few short years since Kaufman finished his Trendline series. 

There are still lots of third-party services. Meineke launched Revvy, for example, which was a device that plugged into an OBD-II port and linked to the owner’s mobile device for use (the system was recently phased out). In April, Bridgestone acquired a telematics service run by TomTom, the popular GPS company.

But the larger change in telematics is how it’s becoming more common in vehicles right off the factory floor. Ford has promoted its data services for fleet owners as “Ford telematics for your Ford vehicles.” General Motors, which was an early adopter of connective technology, now has a more beefed-up version of OnStar for individual car owners and a fleet offering that is similar to Ford’s.

“More and more, OEs have seen that embedding this in the vehicle is the way to go,” Kaufman says. “The interesting thing moving forward is how telematics is used from a vehicle repair standpoint.”


Digital Spaces, Past and Present

Government oversight of emissions data, particularly in California, led to the OBD-II system that all shops use today.

“The car companies originally wanted to make proprietary access,” says Aaron Lowe, senior vice president for regulatory and government affairs at ACA. “And we fought legislatively in the 1980s for a standardized access to that system.”

It became the standardized system that all shops, independent or dealer, could access. The same system isn't set up for the wireless telematics data space.

The ACA suggests another standardized system for wireless telematics data, which they call “secure vehicle interface” (SVI). It would be the platform upon which data would be accessed by all, and it would promote compatibility. Ideally, the SVI system would place a high priority on security to alleviate those breach concerns.

The ACA cited information claiming that, by 2022, 87 percent of all new cars will be equipped with OEM telematics. Kaufman says that for the consumer, some level of data analysis will be a normal part of vehicle ownership by the 2025 model year.

He says that it’s beneficial for quick lube shops to understand this change to stay ahead on their car counts, because efficiency and volume might become more important as miles increase between oil changes.

“Cars are designed better,” Kaufman says. “They’re higher quality. They have synthetic oils that have extended oil change life so that the number of touches per car per year is down.”

He added that his research points to a different landscape of car ownership in the future as well. He says that the volume of individually owned cars might wane a bit in exchange for things like low-speed, local autonomous vehicle services.

That could lead quick lube owners to focus more on serving fleets rather than individuals.

“The future is likely to be heavier on the business to business side,” he says.

And those fleets will rely on telematics data.

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