Spies Hecker

One-hundred million. That’s how many driven miles Nexar will track worldwide, and it’ll only grow from there as the year’s progress. “We can end up indexing the real world, structuring the real world the same way Google structures the web,” says Bruno Fernandez-Ruiz, co-founder and CTO of Nexar.  It’s an insane level of data to collect from drivers as the company continues to build vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) networks around the globe. For Nexar to prevent road collisions and enable autonomous mobility, all it requires from drivers is the simple download of an app and Nexar’s technology is no joke; the company has boasted a 24% reduction in collisions since its inception. The network, which is now established in New York City, San Francisco and Las Vegas, uses dashcams and cellular technology to provide real-time alerts to drivers that prevent vehicle, cyclist and pedestrian collisions.

Prepare your shop for advancing vehicle technology. The connected car market is about to explode, and every single major OEM will be sharing its data on the same network. As a shop owner, if you want to compete with dealerships and MSOs, you need to take advantage of that real-time information provided by automakers. It’s definitely going to be happening soon.

Nexar is only a small part of a gigantic, constantly evolving ecosystem where drivers and their cars are connecting with a multitude of vehicle services, including collision repair. As OEM data becomes more accessible, the better positioned a shop will be to repair vehicles equipped with advanced technology.

Unlike the smartphone world, app developers have had difficulty building apps for vehicles for years. While the process should ideally take three weeks, it usually takes up to six months for a third-party developer to create a vehicle app. Even developing an app that simply opens the trunk of your car becomes a painstakingly slow process, because you would have to build it several different ways according to each individual OEM’s application programming interface (API).

High Mobility have a developed a generic API that any app developer can access, meaning if they make the app once, it can be easily duplicated for every vehicle’s computerised dashboard. Because of that, telematics technology will be easily integratable into vehicle dash cams and become an everyday app any driver can utilise.

As vehicle technology advances and becomes more complicated for the average technician to handle, the importance of obtaining certification will only increase.

OEMs will have more control over their vehicle data and makes it easier for them to share information with outside parties. OEMS are, in turn, investing heavily in their ability to connect with one of their most crucial partners, auto body shops. “The key is independents all have to be certified. They all have to meet the same requirements. They have to have the capability to repair advanced vehicles safely. There’s no compromise anymore.”

Telematics is a technology that grants access to vehicle data at any time. And in a collision repair shop’s case, that means being alerted the moment a vehicle gets into a crash, and immediately having the information needed to plan the repair.

And this isn’t just some futuristic idea, drivers are currently fully on board. The number of subscribers to onboard diagnostics aftermarket telematics solutions is expected to reach 117 million in 2019, according to technology market intelligence firm ABI Research. Because of that, there will be a lot more notification possibilities when crashes occur. Even as advanced driver–assist systems (ADAS) reduce the crash rate, telematics will give shops utilising OEM partnerships the advantage of getting that work. And, as OEM data becomes more readily available and accessible, telematics will begin to drift away from the traditional dongle hookup and become part of the computers that will very soon house computerised ADAS systems.

As more companies, such as Mechanic Advisor get into the telematics arena, the battle for that vehicle data in the event of a crash will become more contentious between shops (who can utilise telematics technology) and insurance companies, who are looking to form partnerships with OEMs as vehicles become more and more autonomous.

Any connection you can set up between yourself and drivers right now is crucial. In fact, the potential at the moment is so huge that the Advanced Technology and Diagnostic Repair Forum thought it warranted a panel discussion.

The closing panel at that event, covered the importance of pre- and post-repair scanning as vehicle technology continues to advance. Sitting on that panel were representatives from major MSOs (Gerber Collision & Glass and LaMettry’s Auto Body in metropolitan Minneapolis), insurance companies (State Farm and Allstate) and last, but not least, the owner of a small independent, Matt Dewalt.

Dewalt had a lot to say about improving accessibility to OE repair information his shops are certified in Honda, Ford and Nissan, to name a few. While he’s well aware of the struggles shops face in obtaining that data and the mounting costs OEM certifications present, he’s also been able to thrive off those certifications and is ready for the next step of vehicle connectivity.

While Dewalt has been able to secure repair work from two hours outside his market because he is the lone certified shop in the area, connected cars have not yet reached a pinnacle that will allow his shop to practice on-demand scheduling every time a crash in his region occurs.

“We use the information we gather from AI in an instance of a collision,” he says. “And we use the camera footage, as well as the sensor fusion, so the accelerator, the GPS, and the magnetometer that are built into the smartphone to automatically create a collision report that has charts and measures what happens millisecond by millisecond. It removes a lot of the uncertainty, a lot of the claim investigation.

The ability to access that kind of collision report moments after an accident would eliminate one of the biggest issues dividing the collision repair shops and insurance companies sitting on Dewalt’s panel: the importance of scanning and following OEM procedures. As someone who has invested thousands upon thousands of dollars in getting ahead of the vehicle technology curve by investing in OEM certifications, Dewalt is ready to grasp the connection Nexar offers with its V2V network – which Fernandez- Ruiz says, in due time, will become a nationwide network.

Because accessibility to OEM information is improving as the connected car market grows, Dewalt says the average independent shops’ heyday is right around the corner.  “They said that’s the direction they’re going,” Dewalt says of telematics. “As soon as that accident happens, they know the severity of it and can direct you where to go to get it fixed properly.”