The independent automotive service aftermarket holds a commanding share—nearly 72%—of the market, most of which is won when the vehicle warranty has expired. However, the drop in the number of car dealers during the recession, which should have given the independent a new opportunity, has been countered by OE telematics installations that establish dealer shop-to-car communication. The connectivity can deliver road service requests, send vehicle health reports, receive remote diagnostic reports, and schedule service appointments.
These are powerful weapons, enabling the dealer to create a seamless transition from the warranty period. But now the aftermarket is developing its telematics responses, and adding dealer-level service capabilities. Delphi Product and Service Solutions, in conjunction with aftermarket partners, unveiled its multipart system at the recent AAPEX Show during Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week in Las Vegas.
The overall system, called Auto IQ, features the Connected Car Telematics Solution (CCTS). This device plugs into the vehicle’s under-dash OBD II connector and, through a cellular modem or a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone, communicates through the cloud with Delphi firewall-protected servers within a virtual private network.
Although the CCTS doesn’t have access to the OE external communications systems, Delphi does have the ability to use both generic and OE-enhanced OBD II data and special algorithms to derive the equivalent data it needs. This data, which includes vehicle mileages, is sent to the servers at preprogrammed intervals or when a real-time action occurs, such as logging of a diagnostic trouble code (DTC).
The CCTS is expected to be especially appealing to those driving cars that were not factory-equipped with telematics and also to the majority of motorists who choose to switch to the independent garage, whether they have an OE telematics system or not.
Identifies VIN for diagnostics
The Delphi servers can identify the VIN (vehicle identification number) so therefore can produce make/model/year identification if a DTC is logged, decide if that indicates a specific repair part is likely to be needed, and transmit the data to servers in a designated aftermarket service network. CCTS similarly can determine from mileage and time data if maintenance is needed and also communicate that information to the servers in the aftermarket service chain. In both cases, it additionally would send out an email and/or text notification to the motorist.
Further, by integration into a part supplier’s e-catalog, CCTS can get the parts number and ensure that the servicing shop has it or ready access to it. At the garage end, integration of CCTS into the shop management system also completes the network between a customer and his chosen garage, including scheduling of appointments and even road service. The plug-in device, as a result, likely would be installed by the garage and the tie-in subscription established with Delphi. The fee structure for the service has not been announced, but Delphi said it would be tailoring packages depending on such factors as the requested level of functionality.
The plug-in device was developed by Delphi in conjunction with Aftermarket Telematics Technologies (ATT), a software firm with which a relationship was established. ATT created what Delphi described as a series of interfaces that fit well into the independent aftermarket structure, specifically the communication between motorist, independent garage, and parts supplier. CCTS was named the first winner of the Aftermarket Telematics Challenge by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association. AAIA has been moving on several fronts to spur aftermarket competitiveness, also including diagnostics, access to OE service information and reprogramming, and rapid ordering and delivery of parts, through its eShop/"Shop of Tomorrow” program. The objective is to promote a network of equipment, software, and parts suppliers that are compatible with the open standards of the AAIA initiative.
Delphi also announced its mobile e-catalog, based on the online catalog for PCs but capable of automatic optimization for smartphone/tablet formats, including Apple (iPhone and iPad), Android, and Windows phones and tablets. It does not require downloading an app, just entering go.Delphi.com. If the technician knows the part number, he enters it and the part itself is shown. Or he can enter year, make, and model and get to the part number in three “touch/clicks.”
Supports widely used protocols
Delphi’s Auto IQ uses a PC platform with a vehicle communications interface (VCI) device (plugs into the OBD II connector at one end, the PC or a tablet at the other). It supports most automotive data bus, diagnostic, and reprogramming protocols, including SAE J2534 (“Pass-Thru”), SAE J1850, CCD (Chrysler Collision Detection), ISO 9141 and 15765, Keyword Protocol (KWP) 2000/ISO 14230, and General Motors UART (Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter) and CAN.
The VCI, supplied by Blue Streak Electronics, is capable of OE-level reprogramming via the SAE J2534 protocol.
At the independent garage service level, Auto IQ and the VCI also provide such OE functionality as access to repair information, enhanced diagnostic data, and bidirectional controls, of which there are thousands for GM, Chrysler, and Ford. It also can graph up to 16 data items, in color, on a PC or tablet screen.