How telematics could shape the future of car buying

By 2030, Matthew Gold, former Chief Strategy Officer of, predicts the entire car buying journey will go online. As automotive sellers adapt to new expectations, there lies a gap between the in-person car buying experience and the digital model seen today. We hypothesize that telematics data is the key to creating an online car buying experience that more closely resembles the way cars are bought in person.

In this article, we explore how the industry has shifted in the last two years and how telematics data can ease the transition towards a future that includes buying a car 100% online.

We hypothesize that telematics data is the key to creating an online car buying experience that more closely resembles the way cars are bought in person.

The Automotive Industry in 2022

Today’s automotive industry is shaped by two major influences that took hold over the last two years: The rise of the used vehicle market and consumers’ expectations for an online buying experience.

Used Cars

According to J.D. Power, November 2021 new car inventory levels reached only 60% of what they were in 2018 in the U.S., due to supply chain disruptions and plant shutdowns. With little supply and soaring prices, 25% of U.S. buyers turned to the used car market in 2021. This figure is predicted to grow by nearly 50% in 2022 as buyers remain budget conscious.

As the demand for pre-owned vehicles rises, sellers are shifting gears to accommodate. Ford launched Ford Blue Advantage in 2021 to sell certified pre-owned Fords, while GM will launch a similar used car buying platform in spring 2022.

Buying a used vehicle online presents several challenges. Buyers can use history reports to access information about vehicle ownership, accident history, mileage and more, but these reports give insight into the history of a vehicle and not necessarily the state of the vehicle today.

Online Sales

When pandemic restrictions hit, dealers and auctions had to shift the way they sell as buyers adapted to shopping online. According to a report from ACERTUS, 80% of U.S. buyers are open to an online vehicle purchase today. While going digital offers convenience and opens markets to wider geographical regions, it also means that buyers can no longer see a car in person before buying it.

To adapt to these market changes, some dealers provide virtual walk-around technology and 360 photos among other services. But without being able to visually inspect the vehicle, listen to the engine, or take advantage of using an OBD device to detect issues, buyers must rely on history and condition reports to assess the condition of the vehicle today. Without the use of telematics data, these reports and virtual inspections have their limitations.

With today’s online car shopping experience, buyers face greater risks than they did in person because they lack an accurate picture of the vehicle’s current condition.


Vehicle Telematics Data: What’s Next?

In late February 2022, KAR Global announced the sale of their physical auction business ADESA to Carvana, a clear signal to the industry that their priorities are shifting to digital channels. We believe that these transitions taking shape across the industry will necessarily be paired with telematics data solutions that bridge the gap between an in-person and online experience.

Vehicle telematics solutions can offer access to data that will help make vehicle condition information more accurate and transactions more transparent. Telematics data can provide buyers with insight into:

Accurate Odometer Readings

Vehicle condition reports often rely on the manual reading of the odometer. This value can be inaccurate or reported incorrectly by the technician. Telematics data retrieved from the vehicle’s instrument cluster provides a greater degree of accuracy and reliability. As mileage plays a big part in measuring the value of a vehicle, getting an accurate read on the odometer allows for more transparent, fair pricing.

Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs)

A knowledgeable buyer will use an OBD tool when they inspect a vehicle to identify any DTCs. The current online car buying experience lacks a suitable alternative, limiting the buyer’s access to information to what the seller is willing to declare. This can lead to unidentified issues with a vehicle and as a result, an overvaluation of the asset.

Engine Recording

Turning on the vehicle and listening to the engine is a valuable part of the in-person car buying experience. By pairing an audio recording of the engine with telematics data related to the engine, a buyer can gain a sense of how the engine is running to better judge the condition of the vehicle.

Monitoring Tests

Readiness monitoring tests provide insight into a vehicle’s self-diagnostics, specifically the emission control systems. For buyers to access this information, a telematics data solution can retrieve the data related to the vehicle’s monitoring tests to identify any potential issues.


Final Thoughts

Vehicle telematics data can provide accurate and valuable information to help buyers and sellers transition to the online buying experience. With the rise of used-vehicle sales and a shift towards an online only model, telematics data can necessarily bridge the gap between what you can see, hear and gather from an in-person inspection and the limitations of today’s digital car buying experience.

To learn more about telematics data and the solutions we provide at VINVOX, read more on our blog or get in touch.

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