The auto parts maker Delphi is moving into the second phase of a pilot program in which it is testing the viability of an integrated automotive diagnostic program using telematics. It is integrated in the sense that it draws in a number of interested players into a diagnostics on the fly approach to repair.
The plan was described in a recent Aftermarket Business article. A telematic device would be installed into the OBDII connector that each vehicle is equipped with from the factory. It’s the same connection that is used when you have your car inspected or scanned by a repair facility. This would enable Delphi’s server to monitor your vehicle’s performance including diagnostic codes. GPS data would be transmitted as well.
The system, which is meant to compete with GM’s On Star and Ford’s Sync devices, would enable the transmission of the data to the car owner or to a designated auto repair facility which would then contact the customer about the needed repairs.
The idea is to involve as many partners in the “value stream” as possible in order to eliminate the need for a subscription fee to the consumer. This integration of involvement potentially could include the service facility, parts distributor, as well as insurance companies and auto clubs as each player identifies the inherent value to its organization.
Chris Slesak, director of telematics business development at Delphi, told Aftermarket Business that a 2009 report issued by an OEM estimated that revenues in a mid to large sized service department could be raised by $15,000 a month by utilizing telematics. Their ability to leverage the network of dealerships has made its commitment easier to facilitate.
Slesak sees a parallel in the aftermarket. "Whether that's the vehicle owner, a fleet owner, the insurance company, a WD, parts manufacturer or a service center. You can't have one or two companies burdened with the entire cost of the system. There may have to be strategic partnerships," he said.
Some technological and marketing issues remain, like how to produce a system that is compatible with all makes and models and whether to emphasize its safety and connectivity value or its importance to the strategic partners.
As the pilot program moves into phase two, a production rollout is planned for 2011. In a perfect world, the system would be able to self diagnose, send a message to the service facility to expect its arrival where the needed parts would be would waiting to be installed.