T-Systems, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, unveiled its vehicle diagnostic kit at CeBIT this week – a retrofit kit for cars which transmits vehicle status data to the driver’s smartphone as well as to the car dealer.
Through its plug-in dongle, T-Systems believes that dealers will be better able to offer a tailor-made service to their customers based on the precise vehicle data transmitted. T-Systems envisages that, as data is received, dealers will be able to contact individual car drivers shortly after an incident occurs, offer them a more individual service and differentiate themselves from other dealership. The retrofit kit provides connectivity in cars aged to three to eight years old.
To establish the connection between vehicle and smartphone, the car driver plugs a matchbox-size adapter into the socket of the on-board diagnostics system (OBD2) in the footwell of the vehicle. The adapter transmits data such as mileage, battery voltage and brake status via Bluetooth to the driver’s smartphone. An app then shows the driver the status of his car at any time.
The app sends the data daily per mobile line to a T-Systems server, which analyzes the information and transmits relevant results to the dealer systems. If a vehicle is due for service or if the retrofit solution reports an error, the dealer is informed immediately through the direct channel. The dealership then suggests a date for vehicle servicing or sends initial information about the error to the customer’s smartphone. “We do not plan to enter the market for diagnostics devices that monitor vehicles but are focusing on an end-to-end solution that puts dealers closer to their customers and improves the quality of service,” confirms Horst Leonberger, head of Deutsche Telekom’s Connected Car unit.
Thanks to the state-of-the-art interfaces, the retrofit pack can be seamlessly integrated into dealers’ existing customer relationship management systems (CRM), auto shop planning and process management. CustomerOne, T-Systems’ CRM software developed especially for car dealerships, is already compatible with the solution.
A test with auto dealers – Autohaus Jürgens and Autohaus Schade – is already underway, with the product scheduled for availability in several brands in the second quarter of the year.
We’ve been keeping a close eye on this during its earlier stages of development. At CeBIT 2014 we also checked out the production-ready version. It’s a well-executed solution with a nice piece of software and capable hardware. What’s more interesting, however, and lifts Telekom’s offering above the other wannabes, is the capability of T-Systems to offer more integrated solutions to the SMEs (mainly national dealer channels) who represent auto-dealerships. This may prove to be decisively compelling. Deutsche Telekom also has some of the broadest and deepest “connected car” know-how of any telco, having invested early in this space. We think they are right to invest in these kind of “retrofit” or “aftermarket” solutions too.