Tag Archive | "telematics"

Autotrader: 48% of Car Buyers Choose In-Vehicle Tech Over Brand, Body Style


ATLANTA — Nearly half of consumers (48%) prioritize in-vehicle technology over brand and body style, according to the 2017 Autotrader Car Tech Impact Study.

Released on Sunday at the 2017 North American International Auto Show, the report showed a growing number of consumers believe certain safety technologies, including blind-spot detection and forward collision warning, should come standard on all vehicles in the United States. Convenience and entertainment options also ranked high on consumers’ preferred list of technology features.

“Technology has become the deciding factor for car buyers selecting a vehicle,” said Michelle Krebs, Autotrader senior analyst. “Automakers must deliver innovative features or risk consumers looking elsewhere.”

The study also shows that 56% of car shoppers have done their research and know exactly what in-vehicle technology they are interested in before they visit a dealership. Younger car buyers, 18- to 34-year-olds in particular, are generally more tech savvy and are less willing to compromise on the features they want.

Additionally, 70% of respondents noted they would consider paying more for driver-assist technology such as blind-spot monitoring or adaptive cruise control in their next vehicle purchase. However, 65% still have concerns over system failures with self-driving cars, roughly the same number as in 2016. In general, nearly two-thirds of respondents believe new technology has improved the way they drive.

The study also indicated experience with advanced, self-driving technologies will likely lead to quicker adoption: three out of four drivers who own a vehicle with these advanced technologies (adaptive cruise, collision warning, etc.) say it helps make them a better driver and feel safer.

“And yet, despite the appeal of advanced driver-assist and technology features, the study found that convenience and entertainment features such as voice commands and Wi-Fi are still more desired,” the company stated in its press release. “Connectivity systems such as a General Motors’ OnStar, Ford’s Sync and Toyota’s EnTune; advanced, adaptive navigation systems and technology that provides wireless device charging are all high on consumer’s want list. Regardless of age or comfort with technology, 53% of consumers expect vehicle technology to be every bit as robust as smartphone technology.”

Here are additional findings from the study:

  • Millennials Drive Demand: Millennial drivers are willing to pay more for the technology they want, with 55% of them expecting to spend an additional $2,600 to get desired tech features.
  • Parents Adopt Technology: Parents are twice as likely to purchase advanced safety features than non-parents (51% vs. 22%) and three times more likely to own a vehicle with autonomous features.
  • Trust in Autonomous Vehicle Technology Growing: Compared to 2016, consumers are growing more comfortable with the idea of giving up control to a self-driving vehicle. In fact, 49% of respondents indicated they’d give up control in exchange for some free time not driving or watching the road (up from 35% in 2016); 17% of respondents said they would use the time to catch up on work while 16% said they would play games, both up significantly from last year.
  • Autonomous Technology in Unexpected Situations: Consumers are also becoming more comfortable with how a self-driving vehicle would react in unexpected situations, such as encountering a deer in the road (42% of respondents are not concerned); interacting with non-self-driving vehicles (57%) and interacting with pedestrians or bicycles (56%), all up from 2016.

The study was conducted by KS&R Inc. in partnership with Research Now on behalf of Autotrader. The online survey includes responses from 1,020 U.S. vehicle owners aged 18 or older.

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Spireon’s Kahu Provides New Revenue Stream for Dealers


IRVINE, Calif. — Spireon Inc., an aftermarket telematics company with more than 2.5 million connected vehicles on the road, announced the release of Kahu, a new service sold exclusively through used-car dealers that allows customers to link their vehicles to their smartphones.

The Kahu service includes a device that connects with the car’s location and trip data once installed. It then relays all of that information to a user’s smartphone app. The Kahu app then displays real-time vehicle information, providing users with access to theft recovery services, driving alerts and more.

“Kahu is the first aftermarket connected vehicle service available exclusively from car dealers,” said Shawn Hansen, Spireon’s CMO. “The thousands of car dealers that use GoldStar GPS for collateral and lot management can easily add Kahu to increase profits, as well as help any car buyer connect their car to the Internet.”

While most connected car services offered today rely on the user connecting a device into a car’s onboard diagnostics port (OBD-II), which can be easily removed by a thief and sometimes voids car manufacturer warranties, the Kahu device is professionally installed by the car dealer, streamlining the setup process so consumers can simply download the app and connect their smartphone to their car.

They service can also be used by dealers to track and manage inventory. They simply partner with Spireon on a one-time install of the GPS tracking device. Dealers can then sell the Kahu mobile app service as an add-on feature, which company officials said would more than cover the installation of the GPS tracking device.

For consumers, the mobile app offers the following services:

  • 24/7 Vehicle Location: The Kahu service is always on, providing quick access to vehicle location through the mobile app.
  • Theft Recovery: Kahu will immediately locate a customer’s vehicle if its stolen. It can also alert local law enforcement authorities. According to company officials, the average recovery time of a stolen vehicle is 26 minutes.
  • Smart Alerts: Kahu offers a geofencing feature that allows users to enter their vehicle’s location, create a geographic boundary around the vehicle and then receive alerts if the car crosses that boundary. Alerts can also be set for specific speed limits or vehicle issues such as low battery.
  • Insurance Discounts: Users can save up to 25% on insurance premiums that offer discounts for cars equipped with theft-recovery devices, according to officials.

For more information, visit www.spireon.com.

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The Best of the Rest


Traditional F&I products or “legacy” products like service contracts, GAP and credit insurance form the backbone of a dealership’s F&I offerings, but are arguably the most difficult conquest products for an independent agent. How does an agent distinguish himself from his competitors when everyone essentially sells a slightly different version of the same thing?

Enter the ancillary products that complement the dealer’s legacy products on a menu. There are so many different types of ancillaries: chemical/appearance, theft, tire & wheel, pre-paid maintenance, key replacement, paintless dent repair, lease wear and tear, identity theft protection and more. These low-cost, often non-cancellable products offer huge benefits to the dealer and the consumer while offering the agent a useful door-breaker to gain a foothold in conquest accounts.

If we look at a dealer’s menu as a piece of commercial real estate, the total size of the property is limited. We must maximize the income producing potential of each section of the property. Service contracts and GAP are our anchor properties, with the outparcels consisting or our ancillary offerings.

What number of ancillary products is too few or too many on a menu? Is there an optimum number? A good rule of thumb would be each ancillary product should achieve at least 20 percent penetration per retail or you have too many. An indication of too few ancillary products would be a menu for a cash deal that did not have enough products to make a four-column menu with a decreasing number of products in each column.

Has anyone else noticed that there has not been a really “new” or exciting F&I product in quite some time? LoJack’s RF (radio frequency) theft recovery product was interesting when it originally came out but was generally sold directly to dealerships, thus bypassing most general agents. LoJack was extremely successful, so much so that the company went public. Today, however, technology has left them in the dust. Could there be a way to capture some of that marketing magic and provide opportunity for the general agent?

GPS-based telematics solutions just might be the next great F&I product offering and assume the position on the menu as the “best of the rest.” The ubiquity of smart phones and the build out of the digital cellular network has made this technology possible at a price point too low to ignore any longer. With OEM’s like GM and now Chrysler offering telematics solutions as standard equipment on 2011 models, there is a big gaping hole to fill offering a telematics solution to the dealers of other makes.

A quick telematics primer for those unfamiliar with this technology:

  • A “device” the size of a small cellular phone is “stealthily” installed in the vehicle. A technician with a modest skill level can install the device in just a few minutes in any vehicle.
  • There are no antennas or anything identifying that the vehicle is equipped with the device, unlike OnStar which is easily defeatable by simply breaking off the external antenna.
  • The device contains a GPS chip and a digital cellular telephone with internal antennas.
  • The GPS chip uses the same satellites as a navigation system to determine its location, speed and direction. The vehicle can then be located on a map.
  • By simply querying the vehicle through the digital cell phone, effectively asking the device “Where are you?” it is possible to provide a host of LBS (location-based services) accessible on the web by the consumer or a call center operator.
  • A partial list of LBS features include on-demand live vehicle tracking, historical location, ignition on/off, speed monitoring, geo fencing (notification is provided if the vehicle enters or leaves a user defined radius) and early theft detection.

As sexy, high-tech, practical and inexpensive as today’s telematics services are, no provider has achieved even a modest success when compared to what LoJack has accomplished over the last 10 years. Perhaps this is a function of the product’s simplicity? LoJack only purports to do one thing and they do it well, at least in the very limited area they provide coverage: recover a stolen vehicle.

Full-blown telematics solutions available today have not had a significant impact in the market, in spite of the fact that they offer a plethora of valuable LBS to the consumer accessible via the web plus an RF-killing stolen vehicle recovery solution that offers nationwide coverage with none of RF’s limitations.

The reason for the lack of success in finance of a full-blown telematics solution is that it is simply beyond the ability of a finance manager, constrained as they are to secure financing and sell service contracts, GAP and other ancillaries within a short time period, to have an additional 15 minutes to sell all of the features and benefits of a full featured telematics product. Perhaps a different approach could bring this exciting technology within reach of the average consumer?

The main focus of a development agent is assisting his dealer clients in increasing finance gross. A noble cause, surely, but every agent out there is trying to do the same thing. Suppose your agency could present a scenario to a dealer in which he not only increased finance gross but sales gross and fixed operations gross as well. Let’s call it a “holistic” approach to income development in which the entire dealership is affected positively all at the same time. Could you get a dealer’s attention with such a scenario if it worked? Would it distinguish your agency in the marketplace?

These opportunities exist today for the savvy agent who is clever enough to recognize the implications, limitations and potential of melding a tangible product (the device) with an intangible product (non-recovered stolen vehicle guarantee, much like the cash benefit of an etch product)and combining everything into a solution where everybody wins: the agent, the dealership and the consumer.

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