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Today’s cars come with very sophisticated technology, including live navigation with traffic and obstacle reports, collision avoidance systems, cell phone integration and wireless connectivity. Automakers are now investigating how they can leverage this technology to communicate any vehicle issues to vehicle owners. The OnStar system already reports vehicle concerns. These are collected from the vehicle itself and relayed via e-mail to both the owner and the dealership. These reports serve as a warning device to vehicle owners that their vehicle needs attention. Typically, these notifications revolve around regular maintenance, triggered by odometer readings, tire inflation pressures and other common indicators. But what if these connected cars could actually serve as notification centers? Or, better yet, receive actual updates to correct problems? The answer is -- they can. Tesla already does this.
One of the biggest challenges in implementing a recall is identifying and notifying vehicle owners. Manufacturers and dealers do send notifications. However, the sad fact is that frequently these are delivered to a previous owner; thrown in the trash unopened; or are viewed with skepticism by consumers. Some even believe the recall notice is simply a trick to get them into the dealership just to be upsold on additional services.
Just as a vehicle’s “check engine” light notifies consumers that there is an issue which needs addressing, the vehicles of today could apparently be equipped with some sort of integrated notification method that manufacturers could push to the vehicle when a recall is issued. Since the message is actually pushed to the vehicle itself, it should then reach the current owner. We all know how irritating it is to constantly see warning lights on the vehicle console. One would think that consumers would take note and, at the very least, visit the dealership to diagnose the problem.
A recent article in Digital Trends states that this is in fact possible. Automakers are actively investigating how to implement this technology while ensuring that data security measures are in place. According to Colin Bird, a Senior Analyst for IHS Automotive, the ability for manufacturers to notify and/or push updates to vehicles could have significant benefits for automakers including reduced warranty costs, an increase in overall completion rates and improved customer satisfaction. The article states that this could in fact add up to an estimated $2.7 billion savings, and up to $35 billion by 2022, using estimates of over 152 million connected cars sold globally.
It’s all but certain that this feature will roll out as vehicles get more connected. While it’s one thing for a vehicle’s computer system to report tire pressure and trigger regular maintenance notifications, it’s quite another for that computer to detect a cracked hose, or a problem with the braking system. That being said, in time, it seems that all of a vehicle’s components will be monitored and we will have the ability to detect issues before they become major concerns. Of course, data privacy concerns and data encryption to prevent vehicle hacking are topics that will have to be addressed before this type of system is rolled out on a large scale. However, it would seem that this notification system integration could help ensure that all owners of vehicles affected by recalls are notified and would perhaps be more likely to take heed. It’s not quite so easy to throw your vehicle technology into the trash as it is a mail piece, or to ignore warning lights. So, consumers could well be more motivated to visit their dealer to correct whatever issues are present.