Why Brands Need To Be Cautious With In-Car Telematics

The Future Of In-Car Telematics, Car Manufacturers Must Tread Carefully

Telematics is making great strides in the in-car infotainment field and the largest car manufacturers in the world are now devising strategies to lead this lucrative market.  In fact Mercedes have already included telematics in a recent advert. It is not however without risk and it is this risk which will determine how car manufacturers adapt telematics usage in their newly manufactured cars.

Automotive telematics will allow much greater interactivity between the driver and his/her car. It will be possible for the car’s telematics system to gather data about the driver and to then use this data to make suggestions that are designed to save that driver time, money or both.

Take the following useful examples of in-car telematics data usage:-

1)      Rodney likes pizza and frequently stops off at Pizza Express and Dominos when he is away at work. His car knows this and when Rodney asks it where he can eat today, the car responds by suggesting the most local pizza houses to Rodney’s location.


2)      Mildred runs a tight ship at home, always on top of her weekly shop.  Her telematics system that is connected via the cloud to her FRIDGE sends Mildred a message on her way home to say that she has run out of milk. It then tells her where the nearest place is that she can buy this milk. Mildred shall get the omelette tonight she so longed for!


3)      Jimmy drives his new sports car a little too fast one day and has an unfortunate accident. Telematics data sent from his car directly to his roadside assistance company says that there is some superficial damage to his right bumper as well as his precise location. Other diagnostic data tells his roadside assistance company that he has a puncture. Not only can the company get to him much more quickly, it will also be most equipped to deal with his problem there and then. They could also notify emergency services, should the accident damage suggest it is necessary.


Now let’s look at other possible uses of in car infotainment that could damage a cars brand that was directly associated with it:-

  • Audrey is a 60 year old lady who has just bought a nice new Mercedes. Her Mercedes is equipped with all kinds of telematics functionality such as social media, suggested outlets, voice controls and more. This is completely baffling to Audrey who is not even that comfortable on the Internet. She does not know how to turn off certain services or how to access the few that she might find useful. She tells her friends and anyone who will listen that she will not be buying another “complicated” Mercedes again. Multiply this by millions and you have a lot of brand damage for a car company that is known to be favoured amongst older drivers.


  • Tony, a 17 year old stuent, has a fatal accident one day while driving his BMW. It turns out that he was using Facebook and Twitter while driving and lost his concentration. A law suit continues and questions are asked about why BMW allowed this kind of functionality for people whilst they are driving. What was once a brand renowned for safety now has to answer some difficult questions This social media functionality also exists in 30 million cars it has out on the roads, what would it do about that?


  • Toyota decided to add a robust telematics system to their cars. It captures detailed data about it’s drivers such as where they go, how they drive, what they listen to and how much they spend on various things. They decide to use this data to market to them and suggest services. This is after all tucked away in their telematics terms and conditions. The customer feels he is being over sold to and resents that his car is effectively a spy on him, there to make money out of him. He does not however know how to switch the facility off and is heard to say “that is the last time I buy one of those intrusive Toyotas.”


The above scenarios are all hypothetical ones. They do however show the power of automotive telematics systems but also how leading brands will have to tread very carefully when they decide how to apply these to their car and the possible effects this could have on their image. It is very possible that your car manufacturer will also become your insurer, your confidant and your social media platform. The extent of how many of these things car manufacturers choose to become will largely depend on their target demographic and their attitude to risk. One thing is certain though and that is that car manufacturers will have to tread very carefully when adding telematics functionality to their newly manufactured cars and will have to ensure that the customer fully understands what they are getting themselves into when they use it.

    Robert Prime

    Robert Prime launched telematics.com in early 2013 and has over 10 years experience in the financial sector. He specialises in business startups and online marketing with a passion for new technology.

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