Automotive: FEATURE ARTICLE

Fuel for Thought: How IoT is Injecting New Life into the Auto Rental Industry 

The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to digitize our already internet-dominated business and consumer landscapes. Indeed, physical objects such as lights, gates, and even cars – can be equipped with sensors, processing chips, and other technologies that allow them to be part of the IoT.

IoT has offered numerous new opportunities across virtually all industries, allowing them to streamline and enhance the efficiency of their processes. 

Automobiles and the Internet of Things: A Long History

IoT has had a dramatic impact on the automotive industry, introducing new concepts such as smart cars, self-driving cars, and partially autonomous vehicles – all of which rely on rapid data processing.

While electronic computer units in cars were introduced in the 1970s, computer systems that store data for future retrieval became popular in the 1990s. Initially, 16-pin data ports could allow maintenance personnel to examine the history and other recorded data of a vehicle’s computer network. 

Decades later, IoT began permeating the automotive industry with the development of computer-equipped dashboards in 1995. These dashboards – which represented the first step in making cars “digital” – were initially designed to help to diagnose car trouble. Then came game-changing new concepts such as integrated and interconnected intelligent cars and self-driving cars. 

The introduction of electric cars has provided a unique opportunity for IoT for cars, with app makers developing ways for users to view the status (such as battery life) of cars remotely. In fact, this introduced the “sharing economy” concept – a society where ownership of particular objects such as vehicles is shared via peer-to-peer networks. These networks allow users to acquire, provide, or share access to goods and services via a community-based online platform. 

Mobility-as-a-service provider, Uber as well as everyday service provider, Grab, function similarly. This trend is a response to the fact that resources are growing ever more expensive, and our awareness of reducing our consumption has grown. In fact, the sharing economy is estimated to reach $300 billion by 2025.

Auto Rental Industry Speeding to Leverage IoT

With data as the centerpiece of IoT, car rental companies – which comprise a good chunk of the automotive industry’s revenue – are taking advantage of its many benefits. To be sure, automotive IoT solutions – with their ability to quickly address customer concerns – can potentially maximize profits within the auto rental industry. 

Specifically, IoT allows maintenance to be planned more efficiently as real-time data from vehicles can be sent to a single mobile application. Meanwhile, many car manufacturers have incorporated artificial intelligence (AI) into their vehicles; this dramatically improves driving safety, which, of course, the auto rental industry can take advantage of. 

While car insurance is a standard option, many small auto rental companies’ greatest fear is that reckless drivers could damage their rental vehicles. To combat this fear, AI-enabled smart cars could reduce the risks of profit-damaging accidents. 

IoT Integration Coming in Clutch in the Auto Rental Industry 

Let’s explore the other potential benefits that IoT can bring to the auto rental industry…

  • Simplification of Customer-Company Relations

In addition to making smart cars safer, IoT can transform companies’ relationships with their customers into ones that are more interactive and personal. For example, smartphone apps can facilitate easier online transactions, with customer information being securely stored in an online database. This allows for easier management with fewer risks of error, giving customers a smooth and superior experience. Gone are the days of tedious manual cross-checking of hand-written records.

  • More Efficient Car Maintenance

Tedious and menial car maintenance work can be made more efficient using IoT. Sensors, for example, allow auto rental workers to monitor in real time their fleets of cars. Additionally, vital car stats such as tire pressure, fuel level, oil status, and battery strength can be easily – and securely – monitored, thanks to a smart cloud system.

Web or mobile applications designed for auto rental industry operators can easily access this data, allowing management to make decisions based on actual data. IoT can also use data trends to predict the impending failure of car parts. Similarly, data regarding scheduled maintenance can be used to order spare parts in advance, reducing downtime and scheduling delays. 

Partnerships  between companies that are part of the general auto industry (for example, car parts manufacturers) also benefit from data being shared via IoT. For example, IoT can help with streamlining the maintenance process.

  • Effective Use of Operational Costs

With maintenance streamlined, many of the costs for operations can be used more efficiently. Profit loss during downtime (for example, car repair) can also be reduced, thanks to more efficient IoT-driven maintenance scheduling.

IoT applications – with optional embedded security features – can also make the process of deploying rental cars more manageable and more secure. These IoT apps can also manage reservations and bookings, which can effectively reduce labor costs.

Additionally, since most IoT app developers try to develop apps with a smooth user experience in mind, only a handful of employees will need to be trained in the use of them.

  • Enhanced Marketing

An IoT-equipped car rental web or mobile app can be integrated with social media websites or applications for enhanced marketing. This is crucial since younger tech-savvy generations rely on social media for information. Indeed, a solid social media presence can give a car rental business an edge over its competitors. 

Newer, smart auto designs can allow a customer’s vehicle to recognize his or her phone, which can then act as a digital “car key.” IoT apps can also guide cars to areas with light traffic. The convenience that IoT affords is endless, really.

IoT Offers the Auto Rental Industry a Big Brake

IoT is quite literally driving the auto rental industry into the future with the convenient, profitable and secure benefits it affords both businesses and end users.

 

References


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