The telling future

Telematics isn’t really nothing all that new, GM has had their ONSTAR
for quite some time, and now with everyone else in the automotive
manufacturing arena stepping in with their own version it was a natural
progression to create a system that would connect the vehicles back
to the manufacturer, dealer, or independent shop.

Large trucking firms have been using a form of telematics for several
years now.  They can not only track the location of their vehicles but
can also determine their average speed, length of driving time, and
overall condition of the vehicles mechanicals and electrical systems. 
Any time there is a service issue not only will it notify the driver with a
service light but the information is passed onto the dispatch office. 
The repair process is already well underway by the time the truck
pulls into the service bay.  The trucking company has already notified
their repair facility (One of their own choice) of the condition of the
truck. Typically parts or needed fluids have been located and are waiting for the trucks arrival, and in a lot of cases any diagnostics that can be done while the truck is in route to the service facility has already been done. It’s not only a time saver, but a way to keep trucks and their loads heading to their destinations in a timely manner.

The average consumer’s advantages to telematics

For the average consumer out there telematics will (in my opinion) be a good thing, as well as a bad one. It really depends on which side of the steering wheel you’re on, and what usefulness you get from this new technology.  Let’s start by looking at the good side of things.

The Good

Instant knowledge of their cars condition.
This is by far the best thing to keep in mind.  Now, when a problem arises, whether it is a maintenance issue that is scheduled or programmed to be taken care by the on board software the driver has that information right at hand. The driver will know instantly, and as with the large semi’s the process could include notifying their independent (or dealer) service center.

If your car is stolen it’s easy find. 
Of course, with all this GPS tracking, how could you possibly misplace your car?  (Probably, not a good time to be a car thief...that’s for sure.)

Driving habits can be checked. 
You’ve got that teenager or elderly parent you’d like to check up on as to where and they’re going.  (Easily accomplished with the telematic systems.)

Yes, there will be apps developed to allow all of this information to flow from the telematic system to your smart phone.  Every aspect of your car can be monitored and with these apps. You’ll be able to see for yourself what the overall performance and condition is of your car, let alone where Grandma took the car for her latest Bingo game.

The Bad

Big brother is watching. 
Yes, if you can see it on your phone app. so can big brother.  Things like highway speed control could be monitored and or adjusted for road conditions. Which could mean some sort of “control” or limit to your speed in certain situations. No more trying to make up that 10 minutes on the highway because you’re running late for work.

Insurance companies
Your insurance company will have access to your car’s history.  This could be a bad or a good thing.  It may even mean lower insurance rates, but it could just as easily mean a much higher one as well.

Maintenance reminders
Now, when your car says it’s time for an oil change it’s not only going to be that annoying little symbol on the dash or the occasional ding, but your choice of repair shops has also been notified, and they might be sending you notices to remind to get it in the shop.  So, if you’re one of those procrastinators when it comes to your regular car maintenance, it might just get a bit annoying.  In some cases, if the system feels your car is in a condition that would be detrimental to its operation it may not be just a limp home mode or a power loss condition but a complete no start condition. Safety first you know.

Right to Repair
Right to Repair has to be considered when talking about telematics.  This could mean access to repairs for those DIY’rs that are out somewhere that is not accessible to a service station.  Direct access to information on repairs, components, and programming issues.   Or, it could mean that any new software updates for your car could be sent directly to the car and not through a manufacturers website which then is downloaded onto a scanner at a repair shop. (This would eliminate that middle man step.)

Automatic updates
In some respects, these “auto updates” would be more important to the car, the owner, and to the manufacturer.  For instance, these days a vehicle that comes in for nothing more than an oil change, it’s not likely that anyone is going to check and see if that particular car has any software updates that need to be installed.  So, in this instance telematics would greatly improve those issues for the consumer.

Telematics Task Force

A task force has been established (www.aftermarkettelematics.org) to ensure access to the technology and to allow service information for both owners and aftermarket service providers.  The relationship between the customer and service shop is definitely going to change with the advent of the telematics systems in the near future.  One place to check out some of the latest information is at www.airbiquity.com, www.connexis.com, www.verizontelematics.com, www.wirelesscar, and www.aftermarkettelematics.org. There are several others as well, these are just some of the companies I’ve researched in regards to this article.

Let’s face it; cars that are connected to the Internet and back to their original manufacturers are here to stay.  The future of automotive repair is going to take on a whole new direction as far as how a shop and a consumer interact and make the repairs.  That’s not only the dealerships, but the independent market as well.  Don’t pass up getting involved with the after-market telematics systems because if you pass it up, it most certainly will pass you up.

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