Dealers Voice: Telematics one of next big trends in auto industry
With telematics technology, motorists can also receive notifications about service reminders or when problems arise;
In 1996, General Motors introduced an innovative technology into its passenger vehicles.
The product was OnStar, a GPS navigation system that allowed for long-distance transmission of information between a vehicle and OnStar representatives. This was the first form of driver-assistance technology embedded into cars.
This move pioneered a new era of technology and automobiles, which has evolved into a field known as “telematics.”
Telematics encompasses a wide range of information relating to a single vehicle or a fleet of vehicles. Telematics systems track and gather information such as vehicle location, driver behaviour, engine performance and vehicle activity.
Most passenger vehicles manufactured today have some form of telematics technology built into them. “Connected cars” are expected to become one of the biggest trends in the auto industry over the next decade.
The benefits of telematics technology in automobiles are enormous. Motorists can use this technology to improve how they drive, reduce fuel and maintenance costs, schedule maintenance and reminders, and stay connected with their vehicles at all times.
Automotive telematics breaks down into four areas: convenience, security and safety, voice and internet, and smartphone integration. The availability of these services varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.
• Convenience. Telematics systems can unlock a vehicle using a key fob or a mobile app. Plus, they can be used to honk a horn or turn on headlights if you lose your vehicle.
Another convenience feature is concierge services, which provide turn-by-turn directions through an on-board navigation system. The navigation system can assist with locating gas stations, stores and other places of interest.
One popular use of telematics technology in automobiles is the collection and transmission of driving information for insurance providers. In 2013, an insurance telematics device was installed on a vehicle for the first time in Canada, and since then most major insurance providers offer them.
Braking, cornering speed, acceleration and distance are some of the driving functions gathered from a device installed inside a vehicle or from a smartphone app.
The installation of a telematics device for insurance purposes is voluntary; car owners consent to have their driving habits recorded in the hope of reducing their auto insurance premiums. Good driving habits can reduce a driver’s insurance premiums by as much as 25 per cent.
With telematics technology, motorists can also receive notifications about service reminders or when problems arise; these notifications are conveyed to their dealership and the manufacturer as well.
• Security and safety. This involves some type of automatic collision notification system, which will automatically connect with an operator if certain collision-related criteria are met.
Some telematics systems offer integrated theft-recovery features. A theft-recovery feature won’t necessarily deter a criminal from stealing a vehicle, but it will assist police in tracking a stolen vehicle and reuniting it with its owner.
• Voice and internet. Some telematics systems allow drivers to make hands-free calling without having to use a mobile phone, while other systems can utilize the built-in cellular modem to perform internet searches to locate gas stations, restaurants and places of interest, and to retrieve navigation traffic data to help drivers plan their routes.
• Smartphone app integration. In addition to concierge type set-ups and infotainment touch screens, some telematics systems rely on smartphone apps to perform a variety of functions. These functions include starting your engine remotely (without a key fob), flashing your lights to help locate a car or adjusting climate controls before you enter a vehicle.
In the past 23 years, telematics technology has had a positive impact on the safety, performance and monitoring of passenger and fleet vehicles. I suspect the use of this technology in automobiles will increase in the years ahead.
Once again, the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association is proud to support Prostate Cancer Canada. This year, our association has donated two 2020 Toyota GR Supras — one in Nocturnal black and one in Renaissance red (valued at $152,000 together). The Rock the Road Raffle draw will take place at the 2020 Canadian International AutoShow. For ticket information, visit rocktheroadraffle.ca.
This column represents the views and values of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to tada.ca. Cliff Lafreniere is president of the TADA and is president of Pinewood Park Motors (Ford) in Kirkland Lake. For information about automotive trends and careers, visit carsandjobs.com.