Indego, automotive consultancy, automotive consulting, steve young Indego, automotive consultancy, automotive consulting, steve young

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Indego / IndeGo Forum / Telematics



Tuesday, 08 January 2008 00:00

The recent email I received from Flexcar on their merger implementation with Zipcar also highlighted the technology challenges in car sharing. The systems which allow the customers to gain access to and mobilise the vehicle from the car pool are completely incompatible. As a result, during an interim period whilst the technology is switched over to the Zipcar standard, customers require two different access methods to use cars from the larger combined fleet.


Whilst some of this is driven by the views of the respective companies on what would be the most appropriate method at the time they launched, it is not helped by the fact that vehicle manufacturers treat the internal workings of their vehicle electrical architecture as if it was a state secret. Some of this is understandable – a third party who started to use this knowledge to enable some aftermarket feature they were offering, might inadvertently disable a safety critical feature of the standard product. Who then holds the liability for the accident that follows? However, there is also some legacy going back to the days when every manufacturer thought they were going to make a fortune from telematics – the fusion of mobile telephony and the car to provide added value services to the driver. They wanted to own this new business opportunity, and knowledge of the electrical architecture was key to providing this in a seamless and integrated way.


Now, 5 to 10 years on from when most manufacturers abandoned their grand telematics vision, the situation has changed. At a time when environmental issues are amongst the most significant we face, is there not an argument that regulators should be forcing manufacturers to either adopt a common standard for the codes that are relevant to effective operation of a car in a shared environment, or make their own standards available to legitimate third party businesses? There are already standards for On Board Diagnostics, and regulators have already forced Microsoft to make available the internal secrets of Windows for competitive reasons. Why should we not take a similar approach to unlocking the secrets that will create an open telematics environment?

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