Connected Option for Any Car

12/11/2013

Automakers are working to outdo each other in the connected services they offer in vehicles. Connected safety systems, infotainment, and communications all have a place in today’s cars. But a new solution wants to allow car dealers to offer connected-car systems directly to customers, no matter what type of car they are buying.

Deutsche Telekom, www.telekom.com, has teamed up with telematics company Un-Blinking Technologies, www.un-blinking.com, to create a system based on the iCar platform. Designed to be vendor-independent, the M2M solution is geared toward cars in the U.S. and equips vehicles with a host of connected functions.

The solution is meant to benefit both dealers and customers. Car owners could use iCar to access vehicle data such as fuel consumption and car location. Owners view the information using a mobile app or a Web portal. One feature, called Eco-Drive, evaluates driving behavior and gives the driver feedback on how to conserve fuel.


Location data enables features like geo-fencing, which can alert owners if a car leaves a preset zone. In case of theft, tracking technology can locate the vehicle. Connected safety features include roadside assistance and notifications of maintenance work that needs to be completed.

On the dealer side of the equation, iCar provides the seller with the opportunity to offer value-added services. The system provides information such as oil change reminders that create a link between the dealer and the customer. This active relationship between the two parties can prove beneficial for dealers.

Un-Blinking Technologies provides the iCar platform, while Deutsche Telekom supplies telemetry hardware for the vehicles, SIM cards, and data connectivity. iCar is available with Android and iPhone apps, and a Web portal.

According to the companies, the Barrier Motors automotive group in Bellevue, Wash., is using the iCar technology in 1,500 cars as part of the system’s initial launch. Soon, Deutsche Telekom and Un-Blinking say they plan to introduce iCar in 300 additional dealerships in the U.S.

The iCar system gives dealers a way to provide connected services without having to lean on a manufacturer. While it seems certain connected-vehicle services are here to stay, the question of who will supply them is still open.

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