Through the years, we have seen it’s been a common practice for the fleet to implement the telematics system as an aftermarket option through the installation on vehicle’s onboard diagnostics (OBD-II) port but recently a new path is gaining momentum. A new trend which has been observed is where vehicle manufacturers are signing for telematics services through factory-installed options: either with the telematics service provider hardware or through the manufacturers own embedded hardware. Vehicle manufacturers such as General Motors or Ford are using both options to offer the web-based fleet management solution for their customers.
Since with the adoption of the OBD-II protocol, the complexity of data has been ever-increasing with the installation of each new sensor. However, the on-board diagnostics port was not designed as a gateway for complex telematics devices. The initial objective of the OBD-II port was to use it for diagnostics purpose and to better troubleshoot the powertrain and emissions control systems. Originally OBD-II port only has the ability to pull data from simple computers; it wasn’t designed to operate with firewalls, data encryption features, or anti-virus software. To tackle the aforementioned concerns, vehicle manufacturers are heavily investing in cyber-security and data management. Despite the pre-installation of devices, there are few concerns about telematics systems that are not addressed today:
- Can they be made compatible with solutions offered by multiple telematics service providers?
- What happens when the vehicle is eventually sold?
- Will the system still work for the vehicle’s next owners?
- When should these systems be replaced or reprogrammed?
Even though a large majority of vehicles being manufactured and sold today have some form of factory-installed onboard telematics, the advantages of OEM data come with a number of potential technical hurdles. According to the industry experts, OEM will be not the only contender in the long term. In this scenario where telematics service providers need to innovate to extend their ecosystem beyond the vehicle itself, new entrants with the compelling technology and a ‘data-first’ mindset such as computer vision, artificial intelligence (AI), and Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities can stand out in the longer term.