In-Car Connected Services
What Are ‘In-Car Connected Services’?
In-car connectivity defines a range of technologies that allow devices and systems within a vehicle to connect with one another, as well as with other external or remote systems. Basic examples of In-car connectivity include Bluetooth, audio streaming and DAB digital radio. In recent years, manufacturers have began to introduce more complex functionality through the use of connected applications. Such applications allow drivers to ‘connect’ with their vehicles through computers and smartphone apps, and can provide services such as breakdown/roadside, service reminders and service booking, diagnostic information and vehicle tracking. The range of services available varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, and whilst some manufacturers may offer certain connected services for free, others may charge a fee from the outset or following an initial introductory period.
The Finance Companies Approach
In order to provide the very best service possible, finance companies have decided to opt out of any connected technologies which may conflict with the services they offer. This may include services such as breakdown/roadside assistance, accident services and the arrangement of any servicing or repairs. Our finance companies have been liaising with each manufacturer to understand their individual connected technology systems and to advise them that they will not be utilising such systems. Feedback has been extremely positive with one manufacturer confirming that almost all leasing companies have adopted the same approach in order for them to manage their customers’ driver experience in line with their contracted responsibilities. In terms of the wider industry and the implications of connected technology systems, we have engaged in ongoing dialogue with both the BVRLA (British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association) and the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) to highlight our concerns.
How Do In-Car Connected Services Conflict With The Services We Offer?
Breakdown/roadside assistance: The service provides customers with a single point of contact throughout the life of their agreement, ensuring they receive the quickest recovery possible and a relief vehicle for 48hrs if required. Whilst this is included as standard, it is doubtful that the same level of service can always be supported by manufacturers directly via connected technologies or in some cases could be a chargeable service. Furthermore, some manufacturer-led offerings may require sight of a driving licence or payment of a deposit – neither of which is a pre-requisite with the finance houses. Additionally, should a vehicle fault not be remedied quickly, they have a dedicated Vehicle Downtime Management team who will work directly with the relevant manufacturer to expedite parts and/or repair, minimising the amount of time a customer’s vehicle is off the road.
Maintenance/servicing: For ad-hoc or routine maintenance we choose our service partners strategically, placing our vehicles on a case-by-case basis. Not only does this help to minimise vehicle downtime for our customers, but also allows us to manage our costs as effectively as possible and thereby pass on those benefits to our customers through competitive SMR rentals. By leveraging the economies of scale that come with being the largest vehicle leasing company in the UK, we are able to pass on those financial and logistical benefits to our customers.