Fleet operators who want more vehicle data to look for opportunities to improve operations are happy to see that OEM telematics are becoming increasingly powerful. Factory-fitted telematics units can offer low-cost, low-hassle advantages of no hardware installations. However, they also have limitations that operators should consider before selecting them as the telematics systems for their fleets. Operators should also be aware of what they need to access the vehicle data stored in the OEM telematics systems, and what data and software advances they should expect from OEMs in the future.
Data retrieval from cars is becoming a topic of interest beyond only shared mobility, where it’s always been important. Fleet operators for car subscription companies, car rentals, and corporate fleets are now also starting to think about the many ways that data can help reduce costs, increase revenues, and improve their clients’ experience. Some of these operators begin with pulling data from the OEM telematics units now found in most new cars. While these factory-fitted solutions aren’t as capable as sharing-dedicated telematics systems, they offer no hardware installation costs. They can also make vehicles available for digital applications very quickly and easily, so let’s have a look at:
What basic vehicle data is usually available from OEM telematics?
Most OEMs will make the following car data available via API from their factory-fitted telematics:
- Vehicle GNSS/GPS position
- Odometer reading
- Ignition state
- Fuel level and/or battery charge level
- Vehicle heading in degrees
Even this basic set starts to give useful insights that save time and effort of physical checks. A glance at a computer screen for odometer readings and fuel/battery levels can help plan basic maintenance and trips to the gas or charging station, while GNSS positioning can help track down lost or stolen cars.
Which advanced data are OEMs making available via their APIs?
The variety of available data is growing quickly but inconsistently; most data points are not common across all OEMs. Some OEMs, for example, are starting to offer data that could be very useful for planning maintenance.
Operators with certain Peugots, Fiats, or Jeeps can get warnings about their cars’ brake systems needing maintenance, as brake fluid warning data is available from those OEMs via API.
BMW/MINI offers various maintenance data including brake and oil servicing data through their B2B Fleets API data package. (Our whitepaper, APIs in Carsharing: Opportunities and Challenges, explains the difference between B2B/Fleet OEM APIs and APIs for consumer applications.)
Other OEMs have begun to provide data on accidents and collisions. As discussed on our advanced data webinar, collision data gives operators more control and accuracy in accident reporting, instead of having to rely on police reports and drivers or eyewitnesses. For example, operators with cars from the Peugeot PSA group can receive various collision data, including:
- Info on collisions with pedestrians
- Info on area of the vehicle affected by the collision
- Collision type/severity
- Info on whether the car has tipped over
There are hundreds, potentially thousands of other data points that OEMs make available, ranging from info that could be very useful to fleet operators (for example: did the client turn off the electronic stability program, possibly to drive more aggressively?) to info of limited value (what postal code is the car in?). It’s therefore key for operators to define which data points they need before selecting vehicles for their fleet.
What vehicle data is usually NOT available from OEM telematics?
While retrieving data is technically relatively simple, sending commands like unlocking the car or the immobilizer can be more complicated. For this reason, as well as for security concerns, few vehicle manufacturers provide functions to send commands via OEM API. Some OEMs have only recently started working on commands to unlock doors and release the immobilizer via software. These efforts are limited for now, so use-cases like carsharing that require vehicles to be unlocked and made available remotely will still need sharing-dedicated telematics hardware most of the time.
Data outside of cellular coverage
Also, OEM telematics usually do not store data in the units themselves, so operators get gaps in data when their vehicles are not in cellular coverage. Important vehicle location, speed, or collision data then gets lost during cellular outages or trips outside of network coverage. Dedicated telematics units like CloudBoxx store this info in their flash memory so that operators can reconstruct events later.
Data availability for vehicles that are turned off
Many OEM telematics units do not offer always-on data connectivity; once ECUs are off, vehicles stop sending data. This can leave operators with several important information gaps, including vehicle location or battery state of charge. Operators then wouldn’t know when their vehicles get towed or what range they can promise to their next EV user.
High frequency of data
Finally, OEM telematics usually send data a lot less frequently than dedicated telematics units. In some use cases, it may be enough for operators to receive data only up to every two minutes or longer. But if effective tracking of driving behavior, or the ability to start and end rentals remotely and in a timely fashion are important, then more frequent data updates are needed.
What do operators need to get data out of OEM telematics?
Fleet operators who use OEM telematics need to take several steps before they can access the vehicle data.
1. Choose a B2B API, if available
Most fleet operators will likely want to pay for the professional, B2B fleet version of their vehicles’ OEM’s API. Our whitepaper explains the difference between consumer APIs and B2B APIs, but in a nutshell the B2B APIs are more powerful and secured for clients via service level agreements. They also don’t limit the number of vehicles included in an API account while consumer APIs usually only allow one.
2. Connect the API
The next stage is difficult and development-intensive: connecting to the OEM’s API. Some companies have tried to put together a few of their vehicle brands under one API, but most have not, so developers spend lots of effort connecting and maintaining the API for each new vehicle model. This is where INVERS’s OEM Integrations can be of great help since it aggregates, cleans, and standardizes telematics data to let operators communicate with all their vehicles via OneAPI.
3. Provide proof of ownership
Operators will also need to provide the OEMs proof of ownership of their vehicles. They can often do this by sending a copy of vehicle registration documents. Some OEMs only require one document per fleet, while others, like Mercedes, may want documents for 15% of the fleet. Other OEMs require fleet owners to simply confirm odometer readings.
4. Get consent to use data
Finally, operators will need to provide proof of consent to obtain and use the data. This varies depending on location; in Europe the owner of the data is the driver and owner of the vehicle. Drivers give their consent to operators via a form, operators then forward it to the OEM. Alternatively, operators can forward consent to their telematics supplier like INVERS, who then forwards it to the OEM.
The future of OEM telematics data and commands
One word can summarize what we’re seeing in terms of OEM telematics data trends: “more!”
More OEMs are rolling out B2B APIs for professional fleet operators. While data exchange for demanding sharing use cases is not a priority now, it likely will be in the future. In the meantime, OEMs will offer fleet APIs to enable vehicle communication in the widest possible range of applications.
Currently, the inability to send commands prevents shared mobility operators from relying on OEM telematics. However, as carsharing offers the potential to add great value to fleets through greater and more efficient utilization of vehicles, it can be assumed that OEMs will follow the lead of Tesla and Stellantis and offer the ability to send commands and add other sharing-specific functionality soon.
Finally, we can expect to see more and more data available via OEM telematics. This will include driving behavior data, eco-scores, and later data related to recognizing road signs and autonomous driving. OEMs are starting to invest heavily into software, perhaps after seeing the market’s reaction of Tesla doing so. To that end, Mercedes recently opened a new software center, VW has started a programming school, while Stellantis is hiring more developers and expanding its software partnerships.
OEM vehicle telematics in a nutshell
Vehicle manufacturers are providing more useful car data via their factory fitted telematics units than ever before. For now, technical limitations make OEM telematics unsuitable for carsharing that requires the ability to send key commands to cars and to get data while the ECU is off. Car rentals, car subscriptions, or corporate fleets that don’t require constant data availability or commands may find OEM telematics suitable. However, all fleet operators will need to grapple with the difficulty of integrating and maintaining different OEM APIs from different car models as there is no industry standard, or even consistency within specific manufacturers in most cases. OEM Integrations can help, contact us to learn how it can aggregate and standardize data from vehicles in your fleet.