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The missing piece in the connected car era — consent management

Winona Rajamohan

5 min read

June 17, 2024
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

Automotive innovations add imminent value to the consumer experience when they’re intuitive, personalized, and built to solve tangible user problems.

For example, usage-based insurance solutions became more prevalent during the pandemic. Americans drove 14% less in 2020 than the year prior but only saved about 6% on their car insurance. Access to accurate mileage data through vehicle telematics expedited the roll-out of pay-per-mile policies that can save drivers up to 9% in insurance costs. 

The same can be said with the accelerated emphasis on EVs as a distributed energy resource, especially after millions of residents were forced to deal with power outages during extreme weather events because of heightened grid dependency. 

From using vehicle data to reduce the cost of unnecessary repairs to unlocking more shared mobility options for those who can’t opt for personal vehicle ownership, the possibilities for more safe and accessible mobility are endless when consumer needs come first. 

Putting consumers in control

We believe it takes a collective effort to effectively share automotive data while prioritizing driver needs and maintaining vehicle manufacturers' brand integrity. 

About five to ten years ago, the automotive industry viewed selling anonymized vehicle data as adequate in preserving driver privacy while being the path to value and monetization. However, it soon became clear that true anonymization is impossible. Challenges in establishing transparency when selling and sharing data have resulted in unintended consequences for consumers — like involvement in data breaches, or higher insurance rates caused by inaccurate data collection and risk assessments. These negative impacts affect overall trust in an automaker’s connected services, angering drivers who did not have a choice over how and when this data was retrieved.

It’s clear that having connected car data is only part of the solution to building a more agile and forward-looking mobility ecosystem. To effectively use this data, we need to move beyond unrestricted access to driver data.

Implementing consent management is crucial for using connected car data responsibly. This approach is already a standard across industries like healthcare and financial services.

Consent management is fundamental to the open banking ecosystem. Regulations by the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the European Union require financial institutions to open up data to third parties by implementing consent management mechanisms. With this in place, consumers can opt out of data sharing at any time and clearly identify how their financial data is being used. 

More US states are also including consent collection and management as part of their privacy laws for healthcare providers and HealthTech solutions. More recently, the state of Washington passed the  ‘My Health, My Data’ bill that requires companies to get explicit consent before collecting, sharing, or selling health data. 

Since 2015, Smartcar has focused on user-consent and user-permission-based models, providing transparency and enabling informed consumer decisions about privacy in mobility. By protecting high-quality data with a robust consent management infrastructure, automakers and mobility service providers can build a mutually beneficial ecosystem of solutions that put drivers first. 

A consent management system enables trust 

Drivers are at the forefront of policies around connected car data. As vehicles become more connected, there is increasing scrutiny on the levels of ownership and control vehicle owners should have over the sensitive data generated while they move around. 

Consent management requires drivers to provide explicit permissions to use this data for any purpose. For a driver to give these permissions to an automotive application or service, they must be able to see what data they’re sharing, what service or application has access to this data, and how the data will be used

Automakers and automotive applications need a neutral platform that facilitates effective consent management with the following requirements

  • Industry-standard authorization protocol (like OAuth 2.0) which establishes requirements for granting access to user data on another platform. 
  • API tokens management systems that enable secure data transfers without drivers having to share their connected services login information with another party. 
  • A permissions screen that clearly defines the specific data points for specific purposes — not a blanket "agree to all" option or text buried within pages of terms and conditions. 
  • Easy opt-out for users to withdraw consent at any given time.

Let drivers choose the value they get from connected car data

Consumers see the value of connected car data when it’s aligned with how consumers want to use it. In our 2023 State of Connected Car Apps report, we found that 57% of respondents wanted automakers to collaborate with external developers and solution providers to build new software services. In fact, 51% said they would even switch to a new vehicle brand if it would give them access to a bigger ecosystem of mobility apps and services. 

Source: Smartcar's 2023 State of Connected Car Apps Report

Every day, thousands of drivers onboard their vehicles to connected car applications via the Smartcar API. These are vehicle owners who consent to share their data with specific applications that impact the cost, safety, comfort, and sustainability of their mobility choices. 

What does that look like in real life? Here are a few examples.

Consent management addresses key concerns policymakers and consumers have with the state of vehicle data sharing today: 

  • Consumers not knowing that they are sharing information with third parties.
  • Consumers who are negatively affected by the data they did not know they were sharing. 
  • Consumers not being able to opt out of data sharing because they don’t know that third parties have their data. 

A consent-driven approach to connected car services allows automakers to enable consumer choice by prioritizing transparency and control. 

Collaboration in the automotive industry helps everybody win

New policies in North America and Europe reflect the heightened scrutiny on data privacy and consent management. For example, the American Privacy Rights Act (APRA) will require companies to give consumers rights over their data, enable visible opt-out processes, and ensure data access is restricted only to specific use cases. 

Automakers and automobility service providers will have to respond to these developments by shifting their data-sharing processes toward a user permission model. It’s not impossible, but it is difficult to tackle a comprehensive consent management system alone. 

Smartcar bridges existing gaps in the user permission model by acting as a consent management platform bridging consumers to telematics data in a way that provides value to all parties. We help automakers stay compliant with regulatory requirements by enabling them with technology that gives consumers easy, safe, and transparent access to their vehicle data. 

By adopting consent management through Smartcar, everybody wins: 

  • Vehicle owners will gain control and transparency over their vehicle data
  • Mobility businesses will successfully innovate and grow their business with secure access to vehicle telematics data across automotive brands. 
  • Automakers will tap into the value of an extensive ecosystem of mobility applications, boosting connected services utilization and brand loyalty.

Maximize data control and transparency with consent management

Easily manage vehicle data consent with our industry-leading consent management platform, Smartcar Connect. With Smartcar Connect automakers can seamlessly integrate this pre-built consent management functionality into their own consumer apps and services. This ensures that consent remains explicit, easy to view, and easy to update – enhancing user trust and compliance across the board. Contact us to learn how you can add consent management to your solution.

The App Garage: How to enable EV plug-and-charge payment with Smartcar

Matt Aspinwall

5 min read

June 7, 2024
EV charging
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

Learn how to use the Smartcar API to build a better EV charging app experience for users with charger-agnostic billing. Using an EV's battery capacity, state of charge, and charge status, develop an application or feature that bills drivers based on their EV energy consumption and allows for prepaid charging.

The problem: Payment processing diminishes charger reliability 

According to a 2023 study by J.D. Power, one-fifth of public charging attempts in the US are unsuccessful because of factors like payment failures and poor communication between charging hardware and vehicles. 

An analysis of user reviews for EV charging apps in the UK also surfaced similar criticism across almost all the 19 solutions included. Problems reported for each application often include difficulties adding credit cards, a lack of contactless payment options, and limited alternatives if an initial credit card payment fails. 

What exactly are the causes of payment difficulties at charging stations? Here are a few, according to research from the ChargeX Consortium:

  • Weak network connectivity: The reliance on network strength for charging station payment systems and card readers impacts electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) located outside urban areas or in underground garages. 
  • Poor software integrations with payment systems: Incomplete or incompatible integrations between EVSEs and credit card systems prevent drivers from successfully using available payment methods or completing transactions without errors. 
  • Impacted card reader hardware: Chip readers installed on EVSEs located outside can be affected by dirt, dust, and outside weather conditions like rain, snow, and high temperatures. 

The solution: Enabling plug-and-charge capabilities with direct EV integrations

In this guide, we dive into how charge point operators can use the Smartcar EV charging API to integrate EVs directly with charging stations for plug-and-charge convenience.

Plug-and-charge capabilities refer to the process of automatically pulling charging session details for billing purposes. Drivers won’t have to worry about using an application or card reader to start a charging session. Instead, charging costs will be automatically billed to a driver’s linked account once the charger retrieves a vehicle’s VIN and calculates the cost based on the energy consumed during the charging session. 

The Smartcar EV charging API gives charge point operators access to EV telemetry data across 200+ EV models and 34 compatible brands. Keep reading for a technical walkthrough and best practices on how to retrieve EV battery and charging data via Smartcar to enable plug-and-charge ease in two ways:

  • Charger-agnostic billing based on energy consumption
  • Pre-paid charging sessions based on energy consumption

The app experience

Creating your application 

To create an app with Smartcar, first set up a Smartcar account. Once your account is established, you'll need to register your application to obtain your client ID and secret. Smartcar offers a few paths to help developers start right away including a Postman test guide and our Starter Apps.

Next, you can implement the Smartcar Connect flow in your application, which is an essential component for authenticating and authorizing users.

After you've successfully integrated the Connect flow, you'll be able to make requests to the Smartcar API!

How to use Smartcar to enable billing based on energy consumption 

We’ll walk you through how to use the following endpoints to enable charger-agnostic billing and pre-paid charging sessions:

  • GET /battery/capacity
  • GET /battery
  • GET /charge
  • POST /charge/limit
  • POST /charge

Once a vehicle is onboarded via Smartcar Connect, check the vehicle’s rated capacity in kWh with GET /battery/capacity

When a charging session begins, use GET /battery to return the vehicle’s state of charge as a percentage value. Store this initial value for later.

You’ll then monitor the entire charging session with GET /charge, which lets you know if the vehicle is plugged in and actively charging by returning its charge status. As the charging session ends, pull the vehicle’s state of charge once more using GET /battery

To track the volume of kWh added during this charging session, you’ll calculate the difference between the initial and final SoC percentage value. 

Total volume of kWh added during the charging session =  Rated Capacity (kWh) x (Final State of Charge % - Initial State of Charge %)

By calculating total volume of kWh delivered during the charging session, you can provide accurate payments for each charging session without having to integrate with a specific charger. EV charging operators can calculate the cost of each charging session based on factors like: 

  • Flat rate per kWh: You can multiply the total kWh added during the charging session with your fixed rate. 
  • Tiered rates: If your cost per kWh differs depending on the total amount of energy consumed during a charging session, you’ll then multiply the total kWh added to the corresponding rate.

Prepaid charging sessions can also be managed directly with Smartcar leveraging POST /charge, which tells the vehicle to start and stop charging on demand. You can also set a charge limit with POST /charge/limit, which allows you to set a maximum charge amount as a percentage of the battery’s rated capacity.

FAQs and best practices

Would this use case require regular polling or scheduled polling? 

Scheduled polling is ideal for passive monitoring, but we  recommend tracking charging activity on the fly and raising these requests as needed.

What other data sources do I need besides the data retrieved via the Smartcar API? 

Beyond information to help you match drivers to their corresponding vehicle, you will also need a breakdown of energy costs for your charging stations. 

Does Smartcar store any data? 

Smartcar does not store data responses on our platform and does not maintain any data centers of our own. We remain a pipe that facilitates the movement of data from vehicles to applications upon receiving customer consent, but we are not an automotive data marketplace that stores, buys, or sells personal or anonymized data. 

Under GDPR, Smartcar is considered a data processor with regard to vehicle data. This means that we process personal data on behalf of each data controller, in this case being the individual vehicle owners. You can find more details in Smartcar’s Data Processing Addendum

Will using Smartcar infringe on driver privacy? 

Smartcar operates on a permissions-based model that gives drivers clear visibility into the data points they’re sharing with the applications of their choice. Our consent-based OAuth2.0 flow, Smartcar Connect, lets vehicle owners review data permissions (e.g. state of charge, battery level, location) before linking their EV, allowing you to clearly build trust with customers on how that data is used by your application.

Our platform also adheres strictly to industry-grade best practices and compliance standards, including SOC 2 Type II compliance, ISO 27001 and 27701, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA),and an API tokens management system. When a driver connects their car to your application via Smartcar, you receive a token that grants it the ability to access only the permissions that drivers consent to share — you are not able to see or store their credentials. Drivers can also disconnect their car at any time. 

What else do I need to know about integrating with Smartcar for EV data? 

Take a look at this vendor assessment checklist for a full of capabilities to look for in an EV API platform. 

Why integrate with an EV to simplify charging payments? 

Network issues and integration challenges with payment systems can happen all the time, and they’re hard to predict. You don’t have to eliminate these payment methods completely, but you can give your customers frictionless options that they can turn to for a reliable charging experience. 

Smartcar gives charge point operators EV data that helps them: 

  • Increase payment reliability at your charging station: Help EV owners spend less time waiting at a charging station for payments to authorize. Plug-and-charge capabilities allow you to immediately capture enough information directly from EVs via a secure API to accurately bill customers, saving them the hassle of fumbling around with broken payment systems or faulty hardware connections between a charging station and EV. 
  • Boost customer satisfaction and loyalty: Build a seamless user experience that motivates customers to keep coming back to your charging station. Increase registration and engagement with your app by enabling plug-and-charge or prepaid payment options. Incetivitize customers to use these payment methods by offering tailored rewards, gamification, and personalized charging recommendations based on utility rates, customer charging behavior, and an EV’s average energy consumption. 
  • Reduce the cost of managing fragmented integrations between charging stations, EVs, and payment systems: Use a standardized API to communicate across 200+ EV models without testing and implementing new integrations with every vehicle. Scale utilization with a predictable pricing structure and a team of API experts focused solely on building and maintaining EV integrations. 

If you’re interested in building a charger-agnostic billing experience for your EV charging application, book a demo today!

How to transform autocare with predictive maintenance

Winona Rajamohan

4 min read

May 22, 2024
Maintenance
Events
Live SiteStaging Site

Zach Olson, CEO and founder of Treads, joins Smartcar’s Laura Huddle and Chris Coppe for a discussion on how connected cars are changing consumers' perceptions of automotive maintenance. Watch the full webinar replay here

Treads is an AI-powered car maintenance subscription packed into an intuitive mobile application. Vehicle owners connect and onboard their car to Treads via the Smartcar API and are then given the option to select a maintenance subscription — options include subscriptions specifically for tire alignment services, oil changes, wiper blades, and more. 

“The key aspect behind this new technology is that it allows us as a business to rethink how consumers can pay for these [maintenance] services instead of the traditional way of getting a quote,” says Zach. “What we really focus on for consumers is smoothing out car ownership as a whole. So, a simple monthly fee. You pick the plan that fits your budget.” 

Treads is just one example of how the automotive maintenance industry is adapting its delivery model to attract and build trust with customers. The insights discussed in this webinar highlight how all maintenance businesses — from mobile apps to small businesses and national franchises — can benefit from secure, direct access to telematics data from customer vehicles. 

Connected car apps reflect changing consumer behavior

The average age of a car on the road increased to 12.5 years in 2023, heightening the need for regular vehicle maintenance. However, the average repair bill also increased due to more expensive aftermarket and OEM parts. 

Not all vehicle owners have the time or interest to invest in a proper vehicle upkeep schedule. However, there is building urgency for vehicle maintenance to become a more accessible component of the mobility experience. Shifting consumer behavior is a response to drivers having to take better care of their vehicles while navigating price increases, maintenance options, or a lack of knowledge on best practices on vehicle servicing. 


Consumers have had expectations reset through a lot of on-demand conveniences in life — whether that be Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, the way we consume everything from transportation to cash, fashion, entertainment. It’s the moment in time for the automotive industry to catch up and start delivering what consumers already expect.

— Zach Olson, CEO and founder at Treads


Mobility applications powered by vehicle connectivity help drivers tailor their maintenance experience to their preferences and daily habits. In our 2023 State of Connected Car Apps report, we discovered that  63% of respondents would pay for a connected car application.

Of these respondents, 35% of drivers wanted connected car applications to empower them with personalized vehicle recommendations and services. The exact number of respondents specifically called out vehicle maintenance alerts and reports as their most wanted application feature. 

What does the driver experience look like with connected cars? 

Vehicle connectivity allows customers to shift from reactive maintenance to proactive predictive maintenance

“In the autocare space, you have a lot of reactionary events,” says Chris Coppe, Enterprise Sales Director at Smartcar. “You usually don't realize it until you get in the car and drive somewhere that a light goes off on your dash, or your car breaks down because you needed an oil change a year, and you didn't do it.” 

These unexpected, reactionary events make maintenance costly and inconvenient. In the US, unexpected repairs can cost anywhere from $10 for a flat tire to $5000 for a transmission issue. Connected cars give vehicle owners and auto repair services timely visibility into vehicle performance so warning signs and irregularities can be detected before they become larger issues. 

With proactive maintenance, repair businesses can leverage more customer touchpoints to build a seamless experience drivers are willing to invest in and trust. Whether you’re a maintenance application like Treads or a repair shop, you can use vehicle connectivity to: 

  • Power a virtual glovebox experience: Engage customers with personalized offers, products, and educational content that best match their maintenance priorities. 
  • Lower customer acquisition costs for targeted marketing: Display targeted advertising and promotions to the right customers at the right time — like when a vehicle hits a specific milestone or encounters a particular event. 
  • Improve on-the-ground efficiency: Streamline appointment scheduling and inventory management by having early visibility into the state of a customer’s vehicle. 

🧰 Guide: The Smartcar API for repair and maintenance

Learn how you can use Smartcar endpoints for predictive maintenance, what you get our of integrating with our platform, and real examples of maintenance solutions that use Smartcar.

👉 Get your copy

How Treads uses the Smartcar API to enable predictive maintenance 

Treads is on a mission to democratize data for vehicle owners with a reliable, easy-to-implement, simple, and secure solution. OBD-II dongles were out of the question for Treads because of the friction associated with ordering and shipping the hardware and educating customers on how to use it properly and avoid inaccurate data readings. 

 Building vehicle integrations from scratch would take a lot of work for a small company, especially at scale.


Without Smartcar in the equation, we would have to look at some pretty old technology and piecemeal it together to even get a fraction of the information from the vehicle.

— Zach Olson, CEO and founder at Treads


The Smartcar API gave Treads the agility to integrate vehicle integrations into their mobile application infrastructure. Smartcar helps Treads monitor tire pressure, fuel range, and more to track tire wear and tear and send timely notifications to customers. 

With these notifications, customers can easily view the condition of their tires as their mileage increases. They can also schedule their necessary maintenance services directly from the notification they receive. 

Empower customers with secure, consent-driven, connected car solutions 

Smartcar is a platform that helps automotive businesses put drivers first. From applications like Treads to local repair shops and autocare software, our API allows businesses to adapt their business model to better reflect consumer needs. 

Smartcar equips your application or service with a thorough consent management system, giving drivers access to an ecosystem of applications that enhance the vehicle ownership experience. No data is collected or used without a driver’s knowledge. Instead, Smartcar requires consumers to give explicit permissions after they’re made aware of what data they’re sharing, what application has access to it, and how that application will use the data. 

If you want to add driver-centric features to your maintenance application and service while adhering to privacy standards and requirements, book a demo with us today

The App Garage: How to increase EV charging station utilization with Smartcar

Matt Aspinwall

4 min read

May 10, 2024
EV charging
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

Learn how to use the Smartcar API to increase the utilization of EV charging stations. Using a vehicle’s state of charge and last known location, build an application or feature that helps customers discover nearby charging stations and plan routes effectively.

The problem: Underutilized chargers

We know that getting the green light to build charging stations in the right locations isn’t easy. According to WattLogic, building a commercial charging station could cost up to $5000 for four to eight hours of AC charging and up to $75,000 for 15 to 30 minutes of DC charging.  

But the challenge doesn’t end there. A properly placed EV charging station makes a profit in an average of four years — and that’s if utilization hits around 15%, with a 20% utilization rate being a recommended baseline. 

Data from Stable Auto discovered that around 70% of EV charging stations in the US market are underutilized. With charger accessibility also being a major concern in Europe, it’s safe to say that utilization is on the radar of every charge point operator who wants to capture the necessary revenue to pay for fixed costs like electricity rates, maintenance, site leasing, network management and more.

The solution: Using EV data to nudge customers toward available chargers

In this guide, we dive into how charge point operators can use the Smartcar API to increase charging station utilization. 

The Smartcar EV charging API gives charge point operators access to a vehicle’s location and state of charge — both crucial in helping you build an intuitive experience for finding chargers,  getting pricing transparency, and effectively planning routes. 

Keep reading for a technical walkthrough and best practices on increasing charger utilization with a customer vehicle’s location, state of charge, and third-party charging station information.

The app experience: Optimizing charging station discoverability

Creating your application 

To create an app with Smartcar, first set up a Smartcar account. Once your account is established, you'll need to register your application to obtain your client ID and secret. Smartcar offers a few paths to help developers start right away including a Postman test guide and our Starter Apps.

Next, you can implement the Smartcar Connect flow in your application, which is an essential component for authenticating and authorizing users.

After you've successfully integrated the Connect flow, you'll be able to make requests to the Smartcar API!

Using Smartcar endpoints for charging station discoverability

We’ll walk you through how to use our location and state of charge endpoints to determine: 

  1. Determine how far an EV can travel before it needs recharging
  2. Surface nearby chargers along a driver’s route. 

Once a vehicle is consented through Smartcar’s Connect flow, use the vehicle’s access token to determine current range. The GET /battery endpoint will return the current EV battery’s charge as both a percentage as well as a projected range provided by the automaker in kilometers.

{ "percentRemaining": 0.3, "range": 40.5 }

If your driver needs to know the nearest available charging station location, use the GET /location endpoint for the latest known location by latitude and longitude. Compare the current location to those of nearby charging locations to suggest a charger.

Should the distance calculation prove challenging, services such as Google’s Distance Matrix API can help calculate distance based on travel mode and even consider travel time with current traffic conditions!

{ "latitude": 37.4292, "longitude": 122.1381 }

Finally, for supported vehicles you can deliver the destination directly to the vehicle’s navigation system using POST /navigation/destination

Here's an example of what this application experience could look like!

💡Tip

You can also streamline your requests into a single batch request that returns a list of responses from multiple endpoints.
View this doc to learn how.

FAQs and best practices

Would this use case require regular polling or scheduled polling?

Scheduled polling is ideal for passive monitoring, but to find the best charging station at any given moment, raising these requests as needed is ideal.

Once a charging need is identified, pull the vehicle’s current battery level to determine the maximum range and location to compare to nearby charging stations.

What other data sources do I need besides the data retrieved via the Smartcar API? 

To find nearby charging stations, we suggest leveraging 3rd party data sets such as Google’s Places API or the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's API.

Does Smartcar store any data? 

Smartcar does not store data responses on our platform and does not maintain data centers of our own. We remain a pipe that facilitates the movement of data from vehicles to applications upon receiving customer consent, but we are not an automotive data marketplace that stores, buys, or sells personal or anonymized data. 

Under GDPR, Smartcar is considered a data processor with regard to vehicle data. This means that we process personal data on behalf of each data controller, in this case being the individual vehicle owners. You can find more details in Smartcar’s Data Processing Addendum

How does Smartcar protect driver privacy?

Smartcar operates on a permissions-based model that gives drivers clear visibility into the data points they’re sharing with the applications of their choice. Our consent-based OAuth2.0 flow, Smartcar Connect, lets vehicle owners review data permissions (e.g. state of charge, battery level, location) before linking their EV, allowing you to clearly build trust with customers on how that data is used by your application.

Our platform also adheres strictly to industry-grade best practices and compliance standards, including SOC 2 Type II compliance, ISO 27001 and 27701, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and an API tokens management system. When a driver connects their car to your application via Smartcar, you receive a token that grants it the ability to access only the permissions that drivers consent to share — you are not able to see or store their credentials. Drivers can also disconnect their car at any time. 

What else do I need to know about integrating with Smartcar for EV data? 

Take a look at this vendor assessment checklist for a full list of capabilities to evaluate in an EV API platform. 

Why integrate with an EV to increase charger utilization?

Drivers want convenience, personalization, and reliability. 

Charging station data isn’t enough because it doesn’t accurately reflect the driver’s experience within their vehicle. Customers want peace of mind in knowing they can travel without worrying about finding chargers on their remaining battery level, managing unexpected charging costs, or shifting plans to accommodate long wait times and charge times. 

Smartcar gives charge point operators EV data that helps them: 

  • Increase customer satisfaction: Pinpoint nearby charging stations seamlessly to reduce frustration and range anxiety. Strengthen your reliability as a charging network operator by introducing predictability into your customer’s route planning and unlocking more data-driven features like charge time estimates, price estimates, and charge session management. 
  • Increase revenue while optimizing overhead development costs: Use a standardized API to communicate across 200+ EV models without testing and implementing new integrations with every vehicle. Scale utilization with predictable integration costs and less spend on developer resources. 
  • Boost customer engagement and loyalty: Use vehicle data to understand customer charging behavior better. Build a personalized user experience that motivates customers to keep coming back, whether through tailored rewards, dynamic incentives, or gamification. 

If you’re building an application, solution, or product experience around increasing charging station discoverability and utilization, book a demo today!

Automotive predictive maintenance: 4 ways to use vehicle telematics

Winona Rajamohan

5 min read

April 17, 2024
Maintenance
Live SiteStaging Site

A study by AAA found that one in three drivers in the United States cannot pay for an unexpected car bill. Unexpected repairs can cost anywhere from $10 for a flat tire to $5000 for a transmission issue. 

The reality is that many  drivers only turn to repair shops when a costly breakdown has occurred. This amplifies the inconvenience and frustration associated with maintenance visits. 

But the average age of a car on the road in the U.S. has reached a record level of 12.5 years in 2023 amidst rising vehicle costs. The benefit of vehicle maintenance is even more apparent now to customers who want to preserve their vehicle’s longevity and value. 

So how can the automotive maintenance industry use telematics to rise to the occasion and boost customer satisfaction while navigating pricer market conditions? 

Preventive vs predictive automotive maintenance

If you want to build trust and loyalty within your customer base, you’ll want to help them maximize savings while enhancing their vehicle performance. 

Preventive maintenance reminders typically operate around set schedules. Perhaps you have email checklists and automated text messages set up on a monthly or quarterly basis. But despite the immense value this provides, there are shortcomings. 

  • Customers might be pointed toward unnecessary services based on generic schedules instead of specific vehicle conditions. 
  • Customers could end up replacing parts that are not worn out yet. 
  • Customers remain unaware of potential warning signs that might arise in between scheduled reminders. 

Your businesses can build on the solid foundation of preventive maintenance schedules with predictive maintenance capabilities that help customers act on vehicle-specific recommendations. 

But here’s a common misconception: You don’t need to build your own software or purchase complex hardware to put this into action. 

With a secure car API platform, you can enable predictive maintenance across your customer base without having to invest heavily in new hardware, technician training programs, or managing multiple partnerships across vehicle brands. 

What can your automotive business do with predictive maintenance?

Whether you’re an autocare retailer, auto dealership, or vehicle servicing solution, businesses can use Smartcar to engage customers with predictive maintenance in the following ways: 

  1. Direct customers to nearby shops: Set up automated triggers that detect a potential vehicle issue based on certain data conditions — like tire pressure falling below a certain value. When this trigger occurs, use the vehicle’s location data to recommend nearby repair shops and services.

  2. Send seasonal reminders: Monitor vehicle data periodically to begin building a historical data set of your customer’s vehicle performance. Use these data sets to predict customer needs during seasonal maintenance. For example, you can personalize seasonal reminders for EV battery checks and tire rotation based on your customer’s vehicle data.

  3. Targeted upsells and promotions: Use predictive maintenance data to help customers identify services and products they need to resolve those issues. You’ll be able to build trust in the sales process by giving customers the exact impact of the services and products you’re recommending to them. On top of that, you can customize promotions and upsells based on their vehicle data.
  4. Targeted educational content: Gather insight into your customer’s vehicle performance and maintenance history to engage customers with helpful tips and resources to navigate the servicing process. For example, you can supplement a predictive maintenance alert regarding a vehicle’s engine oil life with content on how to select the right oil type or video tutorials on the oil change process. This approach establishes your business trusted resource for all their vehicle servicing needs or questions. 

Why use telematics for automotive predictive maintenance

At the very minimum, integrating automotive predictive maintenance into a software application requires two components: 

  • Reliable and regular access to vehicle metrics.
  • Automated data collection triggered by specific vehicle events. 

Vehicle telematics allows businesses to monitor vehicle data points on demand without having to purchase hardware like OBD-II dongles. 

For example, Bumper is a vehicle history report solution that evaluated using OBD-II dongles to enable vehicle service reminders in their web-based application. However, they found that it would be too difficult of a user experience to have their customers wait for a hardware device and install it themselves. 

They then opted to use the Smartcar API  to scale data collection across a wide range of vehicle brands and models with purely software.

With vehicle telematics, businesses can monitor vehicle mileage, tire pressure, fuel tank levels, and more on a recurring basis—whether in-store to speed up shop operations or to gain visibility into a customer’s vehicle performance in between shop visits. 

Remote vehicle analytics and troubleshooting

Build credibility with customers by using vehicle telematics to help drivers identify potential warning signs of vehicle issues before they come in for service. This helps them better prepare their schedules, budgets, and expectations for upcoming maintenance appointments. Proactively addressing these issues not only prevents costly breakdowns but also saves time during the actual appointment so that it’s more convenient more customers and resource-efficient for you as a business. 

Scalability and adaptability

Telematics gives businesses more flexibility to expand the scope of their service offerings or completely redefine them. For example, Smartcar customers use our API to ensure that a majority of customers already have the means to onboard their vehicle to a maintenance solution — all they need to do to tap into their own vehicle data is use their automaker’s connected services capabilities. These businesses don’t have to deal with the friction of purchasing hardware and always have the option to integrate new vehicles and data streams into their solution. 

Software-based onboarding will become a lot easier to manage as your customer base grows, especially if you want your business to keep up with vehicle modernization and new EV models emerging in the market. 

Consistent access to timely vehicle data

With just a few clicks, auto businesses and their customers can retrieve the exact vehicle data points they need. The Smartcar API returns standardized data across vehicle brands, giving customers a seamless way to act on vehicle information for various maintenance use cases — whether it’s to bring customers back to an application, deliver notifications and alerts, or enable roadside assistance. Telematics allows businesses to give drivers a maintenance experience that’s more transparent, on-demand, and easy to understand. 

Software-driven innovation

The repair and maintenance experience is changing dramatically. Mobility solutions like Bumper and Treads are using telematics to demystify vehicle information and make maintenance more accessible for everyone. On the other hand, nationwide networks of autocare retailers engage with partners like Revvo to use predictive maintenance to drive shop visits, sales, and customer loyalty. Depending on your business priorities, you can use telematics to maximize vehicle data and predictive maintenance to strengthen existing service offerings, develop new ones, or establish more digital channels for customers to communicate and engage with you. 

How to get started with Smartcar for predictive maintenance 

Here are a few resources to help you explore what Smartcar can do for you! Schedule a meeting with our team of experts to run through our platform and what it can look for your business. 

  • Review our buyer's guide to connected car platforms with your team (includes a free checklist and sample questions to ask potential data vendors)
  • Should you build or buy vehicle integrations? Learn about the cost and benefits of developing telematics integrations in-house versus working with Smartcar. 

Check out our customer stories to see how solutions like Treads and Bumper use the Smartcar API to deliver predictive maintenance alerts to drivers.

Introducing Teams: Elevated developer collaboration

Winona Rajamohan

2 min read

April 2, 2024
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

We’re excited to introduce new and improved collaboration capabilities! Smartcar users can now collaborate faster and better across internal teams and with external stakeholders like customers and partners. 

At Smartcar, we're committed to making it easier for developers to build exciting new mobility solutions. That’s why our platform offers more than just API integrations, but a robust set of tools that help developers simplify manual tasks like identifying error codes, setting up vehicle logs, and building custom dashboards to monitor API call performance.

We know that our users are more than just coders; they’re product leaders, analysts, operations managers, and the driving force behind innovative connected vehicle solutions. That's why we're thrilled to launch Teams, designed to help businesses streamline cross-functional collaboration and optimize vehicle connections for long-term growth. 

Teams elevates your development experience by enabling: 

  • Collaborative development: Work together on integrations and API management. Share credentials securely and debug collaboratively, streamlining development cycles.

  • Role-based access control: Grant different levels of access to team members. Ensure sensitive data is only accessible to authorized personnel.

  • Shared insights and analytics: View and analyze usage data collectively, identifying opportunities to optimize your API integration.

Streamlined collaboration for your connected vehicle projects

Juggling multiple Smartcar accounts and sharing credentials can be a pain. With Teams, Smartcar account owners no longer have to create multiple accounts to view our developer dashboards or share logins with different stakeholders in the organization. 

Now, you can easily add multiple users to your Smartcar developer dashboard

Beyond facilitating seamless product development and decision-making, this feature helps you personalize dashboard experiences across your team so you can measure and act on API usage data with the right people. 

Introducing Team Roles

Smartcar Teams enables your organization to support multiple user types, each with specific permissions to access dashboard information. Here’s a brief description of each role and its access levels:

  • Owner: Full control and access to add and remove members, create and modify applications, manage billing, and more.
  • Admin: Similar access to Owner, excluding billing information.
  • Editor: Admin access to specific applications.
  • Viewer: Read-only access to specific applications.

Work effortlessly with partners and customers

If you’re building a Smartcar-powered application with partners and customers, Teams also allows you to switch effortlessly between different organizations within the Smartcar dashboard. 

This allows you to specify the context for your applications. Are you a DERMS software provider working on an EV program with utility customers? Are you a developer shop collaborating with clients in the automobility space? Or perhaps you’re using your Smartcar account to work on both company projects and personal passion projects?

Organization-level collaboration on Teams helps you adapt your Smartcar dashboard experience accordingly. 

A powerful dashboard to help you take charge of your Smartcar integration 

Why the urgency to invite team members to your dashboard? 

The Smartcar Dashboard helps mobility businesses streamline integration management, identify usage trends, customize driver onboarding, and make better decisions with data. 

Watch our New at Smartcar '24 product showcase to learn about our developer features!

Elevate your developer workflow and user experience with capabilities like: 

  • Smartcar Connect customizations: Enhance your Smartcar Connect flow and create a seamless experience with your application by updating your application name, adding your branding, and modifying display themes. 
  • Vehicle test simulator: Simulate live trips and receive real-time API data without the cost or logistics of physical test vehicles. 
  • Vehicle management: Get a centralized view of all vehicles connected to your application so you can quickly manage small fleets, remove inactive vehicles, and analyze API usage. 
  • Aggregated views of vehicles and API request logs: Get more context on vehicle requests with log data that you can immediately refer to for monitoring the types of requests, total number of requests, and error rates of each vehicle.

Log in to your Smartcar dashboard today to start inviting team members! We’re excited to help you move faster and with more intention in this growing ecosystem of mobility applications. 

Beyond the plug: How EV Charging apps facilitate seamless electrification

Winona Rajamohan

5 min read

March 28, 2024
EV charging
Live SiteStaging Site

The EV charging landscape is changing fast. Infrastructure is evolving, gaps are becoming more apparent, and driver expectations are changing as they become increasingly aware of the lifestyle adjustments needed to accommodate EVs. We’re excited to work with EV charging businesses building purpose-driven solutions that make EV ownership more convenient and reliable — like the peer-to-peer charging app, Buzze

In this blog, we explore how EV charging apps are shaping charging accessibility and EV charging experiences. Let's dive into what apps like Buzze are doing with Smartcar to streamline fragmented solutions across charging networks!

Let’s dive in! 

What problems can EV charging apps solve? 

EV charging infrastructure is being added rapidly worldwide. In the United States, about 1,100 new public, fast-charging stations were introduced in the second half of 2023. But Q4 data also showed that 18% of public charging attempts failed, with overall infrastructure leaving much to be desired. 

Europe’s EV charging infrastructure is far ahead in availability. Countries like the UK added a record-breaking 16,000 public chargers in 2023, a 43% increase from the previous year. However, this progress comes with a caveat — over half of Europe's charging infrastructure as of the end of 2023 was concentrated in the Netherlands, Germany, and France.

Across regions, potential and existing EV buyers are stumbling across the same problems. We’ve highlighted a few data points to back these trends up.

  • It’s hard to find nearby EV chargers: 42% of car buyers surveyed by McKinsey say they would only move forward with an EV purchase if there are just as many public chargers as there are gas stations.  
  • Payment methods across charging stations are difficult to navigate: 30% of EV drivers surveyed by Chargelab would share billing data with charging stations to make payment more convenient.
  • Public stations are often unreliable or unavailable for use: Over 71% of failed public charging station visits are caused by station malfunctions and outages. 
  • Drivers can’t always install EV chargers at home: McKinsey found that over 42% of respondents who don’t own EVs will not be able to charge at home because they live in multi-unit dwellings or don’t have sufficient power or space to install a charger. 

EV drivers turn to EV software applications to help them navigate these challenges, with many businesses stepping into the market with innovative solutions that fill specific driver gaps. 

📖 5 electric vehicle stats you need to know:

What percentage of all worldwide car sales are now EVs? Why are EV purchasing decisions less driven by brand loyalty? We round up the stats you need to know in 2024.

Read more

EV charging apps at work: What is peer-to-peer EV charging? 

In Smartcar’s 2023 State of Connected Car Apps report, we learned that 35% of drivers we surveyed download external applications to personalize vehicle services and experiences. 28% of respondents use apps to access diverse features that they can’t access in their automaker or charging network applications.

One emerging EV charging feature is peer-to-peer charging. 

Peer-to-peer EV charging enables EV owners with home chargers to share their charging hardware with other EV drivers.

When Aaron Lieberman, former Arizona State Representative, bought his first EV in 2022, he quickly discovered that it wasn’t that simple to find reliable public EV charging spots. He had no choice but to buy and install his own Level 2 charger, even though he was only going to use it a few times a week. 

He then had a lightbulb moment. If his EV charger was going to be left unused for most of the week, why not share it with his neighbors? 

That was how Buzze was born. 

The app is like Airbnb for EV charging. EV owners with Level 2 chargers can list their chargers on Buzze as a host, customize their availability, connect their bank account, and make money when drivers charge. 

EV owners can then reserve chargers from hosts near them by selecting a charger pick-up and drop-off time and paying for their anticipated power consumption. Buzze has a simple, yet ambitious mission: To double public charging infrastructure over the next 2 years without actually having to build new stations from the ground up.

Buzze is an EV charging app pushing accessibility forward

EV charging apps like Buzze exist in the market to help EV drivers overcome roadblocks inhibiting them from adopting EVs. 

“Many EV owners can’t install a level 2 charger because of their living arrangements, so they have to use commercial chargers,” says Lieberman. “We are hoping to connect drivers with hosts nearby their home or work to then charge regularly, conveniently and reliably, making EV ownership that much easier. 

Case in point, one 2022 survey discovered that 40% of consumers did not buy an EV because they had no garage to support EV charging needs. 

In the United States, for instance, nine states have right-to-charge laws that call for landlords and home-owner associations to allow EV charger installations for residents. But these laws differ across states and may enforce requirements that don’t necessarily make charger installations easy. In fact, five of these nine states use policy language that emphasizes the protection of unit owners rather than EV drivers. 

Apps like Buzze can unlock more charging options within an EV owner’s geographic footprint. It also gives drivers the flexibility to accommodate their schedules instead of waiting at commercial chargers or looking for stations with the necessary amenities. 

How does an EV charging app like Buzze use the Smartcar API? 

EV telematics plays a big role in helping Buzze monitor charging sessions for accurate billing without limiting connections to specific charging network partnerships. 

The Smartcar EV API helps Buzze remain a charger-agnostic platform, allowing the app to collect user consent from EV drivers and retrieve up-to-date charging data across 200 compatible EV models. 

By maximizing EV reach with Smartcar, Buzze can better support a diverse EV market — like the 10 best-selling EV models of 2023, all Smartcar-compatible — without having to compromise driver privacy and speed-to-market. 

The best EV charging apps to improve EV ownership 

  1. Buzze
  2. Optiwatt
  3. Carge
  4. CAFU

So, can apps really solve the problems we’ve discussed in this article? We’re confident that big changes are already being made by this growing app ecosystem. 

The same Chargelab survey that we referenced earlier found that over two-thirds of respondents used apps to find public chargers, surfacing an interesting trend that even Tesla EV drivers within their respondent group were using charging apps and stations outside the Tesla network. 

Although charging network apps play a big role in making it easier for EV drivers to find and pay for public charging, there are other kinds of out-of-car applications that drivers can use to enhance their EV charging experience. 

Here are a few examples of EV charging apps that drivers can use to optimize both the public and home charging experience: 

  • Peer-to-peer EV charging: The Buzze app allows EV drivers to become EV charger hosts and renters, enabling users to share chargers when not in use and unlock more charging options for those who can’t install their own at home. 
  • Smart charging: EV owners use apps like Optiwatt to optimize and schedule their EV charging sessions according to factors like electricity rates, the carbon intensity of the grid, or specific hours of the day. 
  • EV route planning: Apps like Carge help drivers inform route planning by using accurate EV data to locate chargers based on the vehicle location, remaining battery levels, required charging amenities, and more.
  • Mobile EV charging: Solutions like CAFU provide on-demand mobile EV charging in residential neighborhoods, public parking lots, and community events or gatherings.

Advancing accessible, electrified transportation with EV charging apps

After a successful launch in Southern California, Buzze is excited to help drivers make the shift to electric vehicles by eliminating anxiety around charger installations and costs. Buzze host, Brian Gallagher, tells 10 News San Diego that he’s looking forward to the growth of peer-to-peer EV charging so he can use the money he makes to offset his utility bills. You can learn more about Buzze by visiting their website

Looking to build and scale an EV charging app that puts drivers first? Here are a few helpful resources to get started with the Smartcar API: 

Building smart grids with Uplight’s AI-driven DERMS solution and Smartcar

Erica Bickel

3 min read

March 19, 2024
Customer story
Energy
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Predictive analytics, AI-powered modeling, personalized customer engagement, and powerful flexibility management – these are the founding principles of Uplight, which enables utilities’ transition to the modern smart grid. 

At a glance

🚧 Problem: In order to keep up with the needs of its customers, Uplight wanted an API platform that could deliver comprehensive coverage across the EV charging landscape.

💡 Solution: Smartcar’s API solution expanded EV telematics access, allowing for better personalization of Uplight’s product offerings.

📈 Results: Uplight can now reach EV drivers outside of its direct EVSE manufacturer partners, including Tesla vehicle owners.


With a dedicated mission to accelerate the sustainable energy revolution, Uplight brings together cleantech solutions across organizations — including AutoGrid, which was acquired in February 2024. The company’s standout product, AutoGrid Flex™, is an AI-driven distributed energy resource management system (DERMS) that makes it possible to harness, orchestrate, and optimize energy assets across all classes, device types, and use cases.

As one of the first large-scale DERMS solutions to use artificial intelligence, AutoGrid Flex™ utilizes its proprietary algorithm to assess available energy flexibility at the site level and scale operations for efficient distributed energy resource (DER) management and grid optimization. 

By balancing supply and demand with predictive load control, Uplight can monitor, run, and maximize DERs in real time. 

But to broaden brand coverage for utility customers, Uplight needed an API solution like Smartcar to help strengthen its solution with powerful EV integrations and developer features.


Uplight’s end-to-end flexibility management and prosumer engagement platform requires connectivity with a broad network of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and technology partners. Smartcar fits into our solution ecosystem seamlessly and enables deployment models that help us unlock EV flexibility at an unprecedented scale.

— Olaf Lohr, Business Development Manager at Uplight


An API-powered solution that scales in a growing DERMS market

In 2013, AutoGrid (now Uplight) became the first company to control a smart EV charger in a utility project, successfully completing simulated demand response events using a demand response optimization and management system (DROMs) for Austin Energy. 

Since then, the organization has partnered with over 20 electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) manufacturers, utilizing them in a growing number of utility programs. Uplight’s expanded capabilities today provide a platform for energy providers globally to integrate, orchestrate, and monetize distributed energy resources (DERs) at scale.

Through this experience, Uplight discovered an emerging need to reach EV drivers outside of partner EVSE manufacturers – including those using legacy chargers and drivers with L1 and L2 EVSE equipment using 120V or 240V outlets. Most notably, this comprised all Tesla models, which make up over 50% of the EV market. A best-in-class EV telematics solution unlocked new opportunities and additional program impact for Uplights DERMS customers.

“We saw the need for EV and EVSE telematics coming over a decade ago, but utility requests, new projects in the pipeline, and joint offerings with Schneider Electric prompted us to explore partner solutions to augment our direct EVSE OEM connections and reach an even wider base of customers,” said Olaf Lohr, Business Development Manager at Uplight.

Ultimately, they chose Smartcar because of our ability to securely connect to a broad range of EVs, detailed API documentation, and extensive experience working with utility partners and programs. 

How Uplight evaluated Smartcar as their EV API platform

🔋 EV brand coverage

Smartcar is compatible with over 200 different EV models across 34 brands in North America and Europe, making it simple to scale and grow Uplight’s tailored solutions.

🧰 Comprehensive API platform

Smartcar provides a clear and detailed set of developer resources, including easy-to-use APIs, SDKs, and a powerful self-service dashboard.

✅ Reliability of the platform

Smartcar’s wide collection of standardized EV endpoints allows Uplight to easily retrieve vehicle data at regular intervals.

How utilities use AutoGrid Flex™ & Smartcar

Today, Uplight offers superior energy flexibility for millions of DERs spanning multiple use cases. Enabled by Smartcar, the Uplight platform provides EV and EVSE telematics to power  efficient managed charging for utility clients. 

These use cases include:

🔌 Virtual power plants: for aggregation of energy assets into dispatchable flexibility.

📈 Demand response: for optimizing energy usage during peak demand.

☀ Microgrid management: for managing and optimizing onsite commercial and industrial energy assets.

🚗 EV & EVSE grid services: for increasing grid resilience via flexible charging.

The clean energy revolution

By providing a single platform to integrate, orchestrate, and monetize a wide range of DERs, Uplight is making the vision of a decentralized, decarbonized, and democratized new energy world a reality. And using the Smartcar API, Uplight can now proactively anticipate and mitigate grid instability or congestion issues, optimizing charging for utility clients and EV owners alike.

As a trusted EV API partner of Uplight, we’re proud to represent a fresh step forward in the clean energy movement.

Smartcar is ISO27001 and ISO27701 certified!

Winona Rajamohan

3 min read

March 19, 2024
News
Live SiteStaging Site

Vehicle connectivity is at the heart of automotive innovation across all kinds of use cases today — whether that’s balancing the grid, powering predictive maintenance, scaling EV charging infrastructure, and more. Connected car data allows drivers, mobility businesses, and automakers to collectively work toward engaging and accessible transportation solutions. By achieving ISO 27001 and ISO 27701, Smartcar continues to prioritize providing a secure, audited environment to build the future of connected mobility. 

Our 2023 State of Connected Car Apps report uncovered that drivers are eager to personalize their automobility experiences with telematics-powered apps and services. But this openness is rooted in consumer demands for data transparency. 

Source: Smartcar's 2023 State of Connected Car Apps report

Since the early days of Smartcar, we’ve been clear about our stance as an automotive developer platform—not a data marketplace. We summarized some common questions about the matter in a blog post from five years ago: 

"Can you send us a car's location or odometer if we provide a VIN?" - No.

"Does Smartcar sell bulk vehicle data sets?" - No.

"How about anonymous data sets, are those for sale?" - No.

Nothing about this has changed. In fact, we’ve only become more committed to helping the automotive industry implement vehicle data consent management and confidently champion drivers. 

With Smartcar’s ISO 27001 and ISO 27701 certifications, we’re proud to give our customers a platform with internationally recognized standards for organizational security and privacy protection. 

What is  ISO 27001 and ISO 27701?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) brings together experts from over 160 countries to develop international standards for a range of services and processes. ISO 27001 and ISO 27701 are data security and privacy standards certifying that Smartcar operates with established best practices for handling customer data and complying with data regulations. 

ISO/IEC 27001

ISO/IEC 27001 is the best-known international standard for information security management systems (ISMS), defining requirements that our platform’s ISMS must meet. This certification ensures that Smartcar has implemented and maintained a system that effectively manages information security risk in accordance with ISO principles. This standard also equips the organization with best practices that enable the continuous improvement of our ISMS.  

ISO/IEC 27701 

ISO/IEC 27701 builds on the standards defined in ISO/IEC 27001 with an emphasis on data privacy. This standard strengthens Smartcar’s ISMS with additional requirements to establish, implement, maintain, and continually improve our Privacy Information Management System (PIMS). With ISO/IEC 27701 compliance, Smartcar demonstrates a commitment to protecting personally identifiable information (PII) and complying with international privacy regulations like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

Why does ISO compliance matter to Smartcar customers? 

To achieve our ISO certifications, Smartcar’s information security management system (ISMS) was thoroughly evaluated by an independent auditing firm, Prescient Security. 

Smartcar customers can have peace of mind building secure API integrations with a trusted and credible software partner. We empower businesses to build and scale solutions that give vehicle owners data transparency and choice, providing customers a developer platform with: 

  • A systematic approach to collecting user consent, managing API tokens, and implementing security measures at every level of the network stack. 
  • A proactive commitment to strengthening data handling practices and meeting industry-standard regulations across North America and Europe. 
  • A standardized framework to monitor and implement data security improvements consistently and efficiently as our platform scales. 

Beyond ISO compliance: Our data privacy measures 

Smartcar is a trusted partner of choice for mobility businesses across sectors, including utilities, state government departments, and enterprises with strict security and reliability requirements. We’re committed to going above and beyond simply building connected car integration by empowering customers with tools to prevent security risks and network vulnerabilities. 

As the connected car ecosystem continues to evolve, we’re prepared to help mobility businesses uphold the highest standard of data security and privacy. With Smartcar’s ISO compliance and the measures listed below, we’re excited to unlock more value from connected car data through transparent and consent-driven policies. 

🔖 Read more about Smartcar’s security and compliance measures:

  • SOC 2 Type 2 certification: Our SOC 2 Type 2 examination was conducted by an independent, third-party accounting and auditing firm to evaluate our processes, procedures, and controls for security and availability.
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): Smartcar is fully GDPR compliant, successfully demonstrating adherence to GDPR’s substantial standards for data protection, privacy, and security for our customers, employees, and partners. 
  • Annual Penetration Testing: Smartcar has partnered with independent security firms to conduct an annual penetration test to stimulate cyberattacks performed by verified cybersecurity professionals. 
  • Vulnerability Disclosure Policy (VDP): Smartcar operates a Vulnerability Disclosure Program to allow good-faith security researchers to easily and safely disclose findings.

How EV APIs accelerate mobility app development

Winona Rajamohan

8 min read

March 17, 2024
EV charging
Energy
Live SiteStaging Site

EV businesses use the Smartcar electric vehicle API to accelerate the production and distribution of EV apps and services. But what exactly is the value of using an external API platform instead of integrating solely with charging stations and automakers? Explore real examples of EV applications that successfully built and scaled their audience reach with a secure, standardized integration across the leading EV providers. 

📝 Here's a summary of what's ahead:

  • An EV API makes it easier for apps and services to communicate with vehicles without hardware. You can use EV APIs to retrieve an electric vehicle’s state of charge and battery levels, automatically start and stop charging, and more.
  • Examples of use cases for EV APIs include apps for route planning, building EV analytics software, helping utilities manage EV charging, and helping owners schedule EV charging.
  • Do you build or buy for your app? Well, that ultimately depends on your core priorities, available developer resources, product-market fit, and competition.

In ten years, what might the state of mobility look like?

The average driver can afford an electric vehicle. They aren’t worried about charging their vehicle on any kind of trip, whether its to the grocery store or on a family vacation. They can easily locate and reserve stations, make payments, and manage charging. They’re connected to utility providers and help electrical grids depend on renewable energy.

Now imagine doing all of this with a few clicks.

This ideal landscape requires seamless communication between EV manufacturers, solution providers, utilities, policymakers, and consumers. That’s why businesses are finding opportunities in EV APIs to develop integrated software that can meet policy goals and consumer demand at scale.

What is an EV API?

An EV API helps electric vehicles communicate with software applications using vehicle telematics. Retrieve data and send commands via the vehicle’s 4G or 5G internet connectivity to get data like charging status, state of charge (SoC), mileage, location, and more. 

As of today, 97% of electric vehicles are connected cars — which means they are shipped with an embedded cellular modem that equips them with 4G or 5G internet connectivity. This means businesses can communicate with electric vehicles without hardware devices like OBD-II dongles or smartphone telematics. 
What are the benefits of this?

  • Reducing the cost of ordering and shipping hardware
  • Accelerating vehicle owner onboarding with a software-only user authorization flow (that only takes a few clicks)
  • Flexibility to connect with EVs across different makes and models — even those without built-in onboard diagnostics ports
  • More data accuracy, transparency, and security

An EV API is your application's most reliable source of vehicle data. Electric vehicles use car APIs to send information to automakers regularly. This information is visible to vehicle owners in their connected services account.

For example, Tesla owners can download the Tesla mobile app to see information related to their charging status and charging levels.

If you want to build an app that uses EV APIs to retrieve data from and send commands to EVs, you need a secure integration that your developers can manage at scale (Hint: Asking vehicle owners for their connected services log-in details is not going to fly).

But first, let’s get into the types of EV data you can access with an EV API.

What data can your app access with an EV API?

EV APIs give your app a lot of data to work with – enough to help you do this like identifying the charging status of an EV, retrieving an EV’s state of charge (SoC), and controlling charging remotely.

In fact, a car API can return so many different kinds of data that you might not know where to even begin. As a developer platform for connected cars, Smartcar focuses on standardizing EV API data and errors across 200+ EV models so you can work with the most relevant data sets.

You can use the Smartcar EV API to access the following endpoints:

  1. EV battery levels: Retrieve the state of charge (SoC) and remaining range from an EV.
  2. EV charging status: Know whether an electric vehicle is currently plugged in and charging.
  3. EV start and stop charge: Remotely start and stop charging an EV.
  4. EV battery capacity: Read the capacity of an electric car battery.
  5. Location: Find an electric vehicle’s last know location by geographic coordinates
  6. Vehicle attributes: Retrieve an electric vehicle’s make, model, and model year.

For brands like Tesla, Chevrolet, and Cadillac, Smartcar offers brand-specific endpoints that give you access to:

  1. EV charging completion time: Retrieve the date and time a vehicle expects to complete a charging session.
  2. EV charging voltage: Retrieve the charger's voltage measured by a vehicle when it’s plugged in.
  3. EV charge limit: Retrieve or set the charge limit configuration of a vehicle.

💡 You can take a look at all endpoints by heading over to our docs!

Real examples from apps using EV APIs

Alright. That was a lot of endpoints.

But I’m sure you’re thinking, “Now what do I do with all that data anyway”

Instead of explaining, let me show you what apps can build with the Smartcar API.

EV route planning

Apps can access a vehicle’s charging status, battery capacity, battery levels, and location to find an optimal route with EV charging stations along the way.

EV Navigation lets EV owners spend less time planning their driving time by identifying routes suitable for their car’s battery range and calculating how long charging will take if they stop at a station.

Before using theSmartcar EV API, drivers manually entered their EV SoC for each trip. Now EV Navigation can automatically pull this information from users to save them time and effort while producing more accurate results.

Road usage charge

Road usage charge (RUC) programs — also known as road charge or the vehicle mileage tax — are being piloted in US states as an alternative to the gas tax. With the eventual phase-out of gas-powered vehicles, these programs will help states continue to generate revenue for road and highway maintenance.

Emovis is a toll-based mobility service provider that helps states enroll EVs into local RUC pilot programs. They use our odometer API so EV drivers can be onboarded without having to purchase and install OBD-II dongles or upload a photo of their odometer reading.

Beyond EV APIs being more secure and transparent than OBD-II dongles, it also allows Emovis to accommodate EV models like the Tesla Model 3s that don’t have OBD ports.

EV battery reports

Businesses connect with electric vehicles using a EV API to access real-time data for building software applications, research databases, and vehicle maintenance reports.

With permission to access car data like mileage, battery levels, and charging statuses, Recurrent provides drivers with battery performance reports for used electric vehicles. Data accessed through the Smartcar EV API is transparent and accurate, enabling Recurrent to build a cross-manufacturer EV battery data set.

Distributed energy resource management (DERMS)

Supporting an uptick in charging stations calls for collaboration between EV charging companies and utility providers to lower electricity infrastructure costs, prevent blackouts for residents, and reduce emissions from an uncontrolled increase in electricity generation. DERMS software and virtual power plant software use EV APIs to get consistent insight into an EV’s state of charge for more accurate load forecasts, incentivizing customer behavior, and shifting electricity loads accordingly.

EV grid management will help reduce emissions by electricity transporation as EV charging becomes more common

Rolling Energy Networks accesses this vehicle data to help utilities build load management programs and conduct EV research for grid integration.

Another way to reduce the load on grids is through battery energy storage systems. Emulate uses an EV API to manage EV charging between electric vehicles and virtual batteries to increase the efficiency of energy usage from retail electricity providers.

EV charging software

EV charging software give EV owners, charging station operators, and service providers the features they need to optimize and manage all aspects of the EV charging experience. You can build EV charging software to improve EV accessibility, charging station utilization, driver satisfaction, range anxiety and more. Here are a EV charging use cases built on an EV API: 

🔌 Smart EV charging

With a cloud solution, peak-load demand on the grid can be reduced through managed charging — when software or utility remotely schedules charging when the electricity demand is lower.

Apps like Optiwatt and FlexCharging use EV APIs to facilitate communication between EV drivers and utilities to reduce the impact on grids. Smartcar’s endpoints for battery levels and SoC allow solution providers to monitor a vehicle’s battery accurately and immediately start and stop charging in rhythm with electricity fluctuations seen on the grid. This also reduces consumer friction by taking the onus off existing and potential EV drivers manually monitoring their charging schedules.

 

📍 Mobile EV charging

Mobile EV chargers are portable EV charging stations that come to where drivers are, reducing the dependency on new infrastructure installation for EV convernience. These solutions are especially useful in locations where charging stations are difficult to build — like dense urban cities — or neighborhoods that are less accessible to new transportation infrastructure.

CAFU is an example of a solution that provides on-demand EV charging in areas like residential neighborhoods, public parking lots, and community events. The app uses the Smartcar EV API to get an EV’s approximate location and measure theamount of energy required to charge the battery. With this data on hand, drivers can conveniently order a charge and get billed for it just as simply as one would order food delivery or hail a rideshare.

Build vs Buy: How to get started with an EV API?

If you’re looking into a build or buy strategy for your app’s EV APIs, let’s compare and evaluate the best choice for your business:

Building your own integration

Going this route is definitely possible, but there are a few caveats.

First, you’ll need a good amount of developer bandwidth dedicated solely to managing EV APIs across different vehicle brands and models.

For some apps, this can take four to five engineers to build the integrations, maintain them as OEM APIs change, and troubleshoot random brand-specific errors. You’ll also want to

This can easily push your product roadmap back six months, a year, or even more, depending on the number of EV brands you want your app to serve. Of course, you can get this done quicker if you already have EV API experts on your team who have experience dealing with each brand's unique edge cases and error states.

Working with an EV API platform

With more electric vehicle brands coming into the market, many apps find it difficult to build integrations quickly enough without slowing production.

Source: Automotive News

That’s why many apps work with EV API providers like Smartcar to increase speed-to-market and lower engineering costs.

The Smartcar EV API lets apps use a single integration to communicate with over 20 EV brands. Our developers have standardized all returned data so you can easily use our SDKs to access the endpoints most relevant to your business. Your team can also use our extensive error guides to debug issues that your vehicle owners may run into.

Another significant value-add to your business is that our platform comes with a pre-built OAuth2.0 flow that lets vehicle owners securely review and consent to data being shared with your app.

Let’s do a quick recap — here are a few questions you can use to help you think about your strategy.

  1. Will you be integrating with more than one EV brand?
  2. Will an extra 6 to 12 months take away your competitive advantage in the market?
  3. Do you have enough developer resources to prioritize EV integrations on top of your core product?
  4. How will you protect user privacy and give them transparency over shared data?

Innovating the future of transportation

Electric vehicles are a new generation of mobility where cars are more integrated with software than ever. It signals a future of transportation where connectivity removes barriers holding traditional auto industries back — like insurance and tolling — and scale services for digitally adept drivers on the go.

APIs for electric vehicles empower businesses with an easier way to disrupt traditional methods of vehicle data collection for more resource-efficient production, stable integrations, and user adoption.

Learn more about the Smartcar EV API endpoints by signing up for a demo or create your free account today to take our platform for a spin.

 


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar.

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3 ways to improve auto dealership software CX with Smartcar

Winona Rajamohan

6 min read

March 12, 2024
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Almost all new cars shipped today have embedded telematics functionalities. These connected cars are often described as smartphones on wheels, but they’re more than that. 

Beyond supporting in-vehicle applications like the ones we typically see in infotainment systems, connected cars give vehicle and fleet owners visibility into their own vehicle data. 

Cars are no longer a black box of information that calls for an OBD-II device and a service technician to gain insight into. With vehicle connectivity, drivers have the opportunity to take charge of their vehicle ownership experience as soon as they make a purchase. 

That’s where auto dealership software comes in.

With secure and seamless vehicle communication, auto dealerships today can completely redefine engagement with potential and existing customers.

No more blindly spending money on generic one-to-many relationship-building tactics that yield low conversion rates. 

A connected car API platform like Smartcar enables auto dealerships to scale personalized marketing, boost transactions, and build customer loyalty. 

Why use the Smartcar API? 

The Smartcar API gives auto dealership software a standardized platform to access important vehicle diagnostics data across vehicle makes and models. Our platform streamlines these integrations so developers don’t have to manage fragmented OEM partnerships, developer documentation, and developer APIs. 

Beyond standardizing data returned by endpoints across brands, the Smartcar API also gives auto dealerships pre-built user consent management, API tokens management, and security infrastructure to power an application or dealer management system that’s optimized for industry-grade compliance.

💡 We’ve added a free API vendor assessment checklist that you can save at the bottom of this article. 

What do these API benefits do for you? 

Generate more revenue

Connected car data gives an auto dealer the opportunity to turn their software application or dealership management system into a long-term channel for conversion and growth. Increase the number of transactions you make with each customer by showing up in your marketing outreach with personalized messaging that gives drivers the “Aha!” moment they need. The trick is to engage with drivers at the right time so your offer is capturing their attention when it's top of mind — or to put it bluntly, when your customer has a tangible reason to care about what a car dealership has to say. 

Instead of mass marketing incentives for car services to a huge email list, consider sending service reminders based on a vehicle’s tire pressure and adding a time-sensitive tire discount to the mix. Or imagine getting personalized ads on your dealership app on how to start the process of selling your car just as your car reaches a high mileage.

With a connected car API, you can adopt data-driven marketing strategies without having to worry about the complexities of standardizing vehicle data with an in-house developer team. 

Show customers you care

Who do drivers trust to have with them throughout the vehicle ownership experience? 

A survey by Deloitte says it's a close call between the dealerships where drivers service their vehicles, where they purchase their vehicles, and their car manufacturers. It all boils down to who drivers feel they can trust. 

Connected car data helps an auto dealer develop tools and strategies that help customers better navigate the process of buying, maintaining, and selling their cars. Inventory levels are a big cause of concern for new and existing customers, inflating interest rates and the cost of vehicles themselves. On top of streamlining inventory management, vehicle telematics gives dealerships live vehicle data that can influence driver-specific decision-making and promotions.

You can appeal to a customer’s most urgent concerns with tailored incentives for regular vehicle maintenance, personalized offers for warranties, or holistic vehicle health information to inform drivers of their car’s potential trade-in value. 

3 ways to use Smartcar for auto dealership software

With the Smartcar API, auto dealerships can use scheduled webhooks to enhance the customer-facing application experience with a ‘set it and forget it’ approach to vehicle alerts and notifications. Scheduled webhooks fetch recurring data from vehicles connected to an app based on a set schedule, powering a more integrated and consistent dealership management system.

Auto dealerships can use webhooks to optimize the customer experience by automatically retrieving data like a vehicle’s location, odometer, fuel tank level, and tire pressure daily or weekly.

There are a few important use cases an auto dealer can unlock by automatically retrieving data from customer vehicles daily or weekly: 

  1. Predictive maintenance alerts

Research by Cox Automotive found that 48% of vehicle owners were unsatisfied with their service at an auto dealership because of factors like difficulty scheduling an appointment and servicing taking longer than expected. 

Smartcar enables predictive maintenance notifications, allowing customers more time to schedule service appointments in advance instead of waiting until an issue snowballs into frustrating and time-consuming breakdowns. Not only does this increase customer satisfaction, it helps your service department boost productivity and operational efficiency.

Monitor vehicle mileage, tire pressure, fuel tank levels, and EV battery capacity on a recurring basis to get up-to-date visibility into vehicle health and performance. With Smartcar’s scheduled webhooks, you can then prompt an alert when these data points drop below a ‘healthy’ value. 

Add a clear call-to-action to these predictive maintenance notifications and you’ll have a frictionless workflow directing customers to an appointment scheduler with minimal intervention from customer service representatives.

  1. Targeted warranty upsells

Consumers are becoming more mindful about what they’re spending on, and that means they’re becoming more receptive to shopping around for options they feel better represent their needs. Connected car data helps dealerships personalize warranty offers and drive targeted upsells. 

The Smartcar API provides insight into customer information, like how a driver utilizes their vehicle, allowing dealerships to determine which warranty extension would benefit a customer most. Warranty providers do this today with our endpoints for a car’s mileage, fuel tank or state of charge, tire pressure, and engine oil life. 

For example, a customer that onboards their vehicle to a dealership app via Smartcar can receive notifications of upcoming warranty expirations based on the number of miles driven. As this notification is triggered, dealerships can automate marketing communication that shows the customer potential upgrades based on their driving patterns or vehicle health.

  1.  Increase car sales and trade-ins 

Dealerships can use connected car data to equip customers with detailed insights into the used car they’re buying or selling. Businesses today use the Smartcar API to get accurate live metrics on a customer’s existing vehicle such as mileage, range estimates, and state of charge. Equipped with this visibility, you can engage customers who might be interested in trading their vehicles for new ones and adopt a proactive strategy for inventory management.

Based on a vehicle's connected car data, a dealership can suggest new car models for sale that align with a customer’s driving habits. You can also supplement this suggestion with an accurate trade-in valuation for an existing vehicle that customers can see immediately on the dealership app.

Setting up predictive alerts with scheduled webhooks

How can you get Smartcar’s scheduled webhooks ready for a dealership management solution?

To subscribe a customer vehicle to data retrieved by Smartcar’s scheduled webhooks, you’ll want to navigate to the ‘Webhooks’ section of the Smartcar dashboard to add your webhook. Set up the webhook by: 

  • Selecting the webhook type to “Scheduled” 
  • Setting how often you want to receive data
  • Selecting which endpoints you want to receive data from
  • Selecting the units you want to receive data

For the purpose of this article, we’ll assume that you already have a callback URI set up on your server and customer vehicles that are already onboarded via Smartcar Connect. If not, read our step-by-step tutorial on how to set up and verify Smartcar webhooks in your Smartcar dashboard!

After verifying your webhook, you can use the following code to subscribe to a vehicle. 



const response = await vehicle.subscribe("{webhook_id}");

The data will then be sent to the vehicle at the cadence that you've configured.

# ./main.py

@app.route('/vehicle', methods=['GET'])
def get_vehicle():
    ...
    vehicle = smartcar.Vehicle(vehicle_ids[0], access.access_token)

		# subscribe a vehicle to your webhook
		vehicle.subscribe(<your_webhook_id>)
		
    ...

Once you’ve successfully subscribed a vehicle to your scheduled webhook, the payload response you get will look like this depending on the endpoints you selected. 



{
  "version": "2.0",
  "webhookId": "6f9c7e43-2278-4a9b-b273-cdacab9ed83c",
  "eventName": "schedule",
  "mode": "test",
  "payload": {
    "vehicles": [
      {
        "vehicleId": "1a9fdd59-b65e-4bf1-8264-5448812eac83",
        "requestId": "6c22cd5c-34df-48ae-ad90-b324170629be",
        "data": [
          {
            "path": "/",
            "code": 200,
            "body": {
              "id": "1a9fdd59-b65e-4bf1-8264-5448812eac83",
              "make": "BMW",
              "model": "i3 94 (+ REX)",
              "year": 2017
            },
            "headers": {}
          },
          {
            "path": "/fuel",
            "code": 200,
            "body": {
              "range": 44.12,
              "percentRemaining": 0.57,
              "amountRemaining": 1.32
            },
            "headers": {
              "sc-data-age": "2020-05-11T23:44:31.000Z",
              "sc-unit-system": "imperial"
            }
          },
          {
            "path": "/vin",
            "code": 200,
            "body": {
              "vin": "WBY1Z8C54HV550878"
            },
            "headers": {}
          }
        ],
        "timestamp": "2020-05-13T22:00:01.288Z"
      }
    ]
  }
  

Beyond the app: Expanding your customer experience

The data you retrieve via the Smartcar API doesn’t just translate into a better experience on a mobile application. You can integrate this data into existing customer communication channels and dealer management tools:

  1. Boosting your web experience:

You can integrate the Smartcar API into a customer-facing website to create a seamless online experience. Tap into the same data points that a mobile application would, driving traffic to your website with dealer management features like service reminders, appointment scheduling, warranty recommendations, and targeted promotions. You can use the Smartcar JavaScript SDK to collect user consent from a browser pop-up user window and authorize data sharing with customer vehicles. 

  1. Powering text message marketing:

SMS marketing has big potential for dealerships, with considerably higher open rates on average than email marketing. If your dealership is currently or has plans to use a text messaging solution to engage with customers, you can still use the Smartcar API to collect data from customer vehicles upon getting their consent. Integration tools like Zapier can help you funnel Smartcar data into a customer relationship management system so you can use your SMS service to engage with a targeted cohort of customers, like sending maintenance scheduling reminders or special offers triggered by vehicle events.

  1. Personalizing email campaigns:

Like text messaging, the Smartcar API does not provide a direct integration with email services. However, dealerships can use the API to gather information or receive notifications on a customer’s vehicle periodically or after a specific event is triggered.  You can then use tools like Zapier and an email API or service of your choice to set up campaign workflow conditions based on the vehicle triggers you’ve defined with the Smartcar API. This is a great way to integrate telematics-driven personalization into any of your existing email marketing or dealership operations efforts, whether it’s for seasonal new car promotions, trade-in offers, tailored warranty upsells, and more.

Power your auto dealership experience with a connected car API

Here are a few extra resources to help you evaluate a connected car API provider👇 You can also schedule a meeting with our team to explore incorporating Smartcar into your dealer management software and customer engagement solution!

  • Our Build vs Buy guide for automotive businesses and developers
  • Smartcar’s State of Connected Car Apps report exploring driver interest in independent automotive services and applications (Sneak peek: 64% of drivers we surveyed think that external applications provide better telematics features than their automaker’s applications.)
  • A vendor selection checklist that you can use in discussions with connected car API vendors — more on this in our buyer's guide to connected car platforms.

New at Smartcar '24: A new era of connected cars

Winona Rajamohan

4 min read

February 21, 2024
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At this year’s New at Smartcar product keynote, we explore the latest Smartcar platform enhancements — including new compatible vehicle brands, API endpoints, and developer experience features. 📺 Watch the event replay to learn more about the mobility ecosystem that Smartcar and our customers are powering. 🚀

From managing EV charging to booking a ride-hailing trip or setting up predictive maintenance alerts with your favorite autocare retailer, our transportation experiences are created by an ecosystem of applications that exist beyond your vehicle. 

Car owners are no longer just buying vehicles — they’re investing in an entire ecosystem of smart mobility features and applications, all of which play a role in bridging the gaps between transportation infrastructure and the consumer experience. 

As vehicle connectivity continues to drive innovation, vehicle owners are telling us what they value most: Privacy, environmental impact, and choice. At Smartcar, we’re excited to equip mobility businesses with the tools to meet these expectations and excite their customers. 

New compatible brands

Last year, Smartcar added 11 new brands to our list of compatible vehicles while expanding the geographic coverage of many existing brands. 

As of our New at Smartcar event, we’re at 40 compatible brands across North America, Canada, and Europe! That means mobility businesses can use our API to get the benefits of a single integration to communicate with over 175 million compatible vehicles. 🤯

Smartcar in Europe

We’ve expanded our vehicle coverage in Europe after introducing these great brands to our compatibility list over the last year: Porsche, Mazda, Hyundai, Cupra, Alfa Romeo, and Fiat! 

Whether you’re a mobility business based in Europe or expanding to reach customers there, you can now use Smartcar to communicate with some of the most popular vehicles on the road in the region — like the Fiat 500, Peugeot 208, Renault Clio, and Volkswagen T-Roc. 

Better organization and customization for developers 

At Smartcar, we pride ourselves in catapulting mobility innovation through better developer experiences. Developers don’t just our API docs to manage their integration. They have access to a suite of tools in our Developer Dashboard to manage connected vehicles, view API requests, set up webhooks, test with our vehicle simulator, and more. 

Here are some new features in the dashboard: 

Customize your app’s Smartcar Connect Flow 

We’ve created the Appearance section in the dashboard so you can add these customizations to your application’s Smartcar Connect flow: 

  • Update your application name
  • Display your logo next to Smartcar’s logo
  • Choose one of the following display theme options: Light Mode, Dark Mode, and User’s System Setting

With these customization features, you can bring users through a flow that makes them feel like they’ve never left your app. This seamless and cohesive user experience builds trust and security when users connect their cars. 

Manage vehicle connections in one place

Smartcar’s Vehicle Management feature provides a centralized view of all cars connected to an application, giving teams a faster workflow to manage fleets, remove inactive vehicles, and identify usage patterns. Developers can use our robust filtering options to analyze vehicles by connection date, vehicle ID, mode, make, or year. 

With our Request Logs, teams can dive deeper into all the API requests a vehicle has made. This feature is a powerful tool to help developers debug errors and solve user issues. 

Our AI-powered documentation center

Smartcar’s comprehensive and user-friendly documentation sets us apart. 

Last year, we redesigned the documentation center to give developers an even better experience, especially when navigating through all the new content we’ve introduced as our platform has grown. 

With our documentation center’s AI-powered search, developers can quickly answer questions about Smartcar, grab code snippets to get you started, and summarize documents to highlight specific information. You can try it out for yourself here!

More powerful API endpoints 

We’re constantly inspired by the many ways mobility businesses use our API endpoints to solve problems for vehicle owners and everyday consumers. 

Uber uses our EV battery level endpoint to help drivers filter out rides that exceed their remaining range. 

Threads uses our tire pressure endpoint to integrate predictive maintenance into its subscription service for vehicle maintenance. 

And the list of exciting use cases doesn’t end there. 

What can mobility businesses build and optimize with our new API endpoints? 

Tesla’s Telemetry API

In case you missed the big announcement: Smartcar now supports Tesla’s latest official API! You can read more about this upgraded integration to learn about the benefits of integrating with Tesla via Smartcar. 

With this latest integration, Smartcar can use Tesla’s Telemetry API system to receive events from customer cars as the vehicle state changes. 

Cars get overloaded if they receive too many information requests from apps at one time, which becomes a bigger challenge as your application scales. 

This API enables apps to be automatically notified of vehicle changes when they occur instead of pushing frequent data requests to a user’s car — so you don’t have to worry about overloading vehicles. 

Send Destination

With this endpoint, applications can send a destination directly to a driver’s built-in navigation screen and route them to a desired location. Destinations can be sent to a user’s car at a predetermined time, by a customer representative, or by a detectable event — like low tire pressure or needing an oil change.

Here are a few examples of how you can use this new API: 

  • A car sharing provider can send the address where a vehicle needs to be returned
  • A repair & maintenance shop can detect a car's low tire pressure and route the customer to their nearest location
  • A charging station can route a customer to a nearby charger when the vehicle’s battery is low

Let’s build a better mobility ecosystem 

We’re excited to keep the momentum going in 2024, so stay tuned for more brands, platform improvements, and customer success stories. Don't forget to watch a replay of New at Smartcar for a deeper look at these updates or contact our team to learn how you can integrate them into your solution!   📺

How to maximize vehicle connectivity for autocare software

Winona Rajamohan

4 min read

February 14, 2024
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Vehicle connectivity is the future of autocare software

Scratch that. 

Vehicle connectivity is the reality of effective autocare software. 

In 1994, on-board diagnostics (OBD II) became mandated technology for the auto repair industry to standardize vehicle diagnostics data and get as close as possible to real-time visibility into vehicle performance and issues. 

But 1994 is close to 20 years ago. 

Today, 9 out of 10 cars are shipped with built-in internet connectivity. Departments of transportation use vehicle connectivity to collect mileage-based user fees. Energy retailers use vehicle connectivity to manage EV charging loads without spending millions on infrastructure upgrades. Car rental providers use vehicle connectivity to unlock more instant bookings. 

Auto care retailers and auto repair shops are no exception.

Vehicle connectivity gives shops more opportunities to act on vehicle data without purchasing and installing after-market hardware devices or relying on historical averages from data aggregators — which isn’t the best source of truth to engage customers with service recommendations, anyway. 

Connected cars give autocare retailers access to live data obtained directly from a vehicle's telemetry software. So instead of ever having to ship specialized OBD dongles or manually inspect the device in-store after an issue has occurred, retailers can use vehicle connectivity to proactively alert drivers about upcoming services based on day-to-day vehicle reporting. 

Why use a connected car API for your autocare software

In 2017, an article surfaced with a glaring headline. 

The connected car of the future could kill off the local auto repair shop.” 

Quartz reported that connected cars equipped automakers with a direct way to expand business opportunities with local dealerships and restrict independent auto care and auto repair shops from accessing that data. 

But the connected car ecosystem is changing. For example, automakers like Tesla encourage innovation beyond their native application ecosystem with API integrations that unlock more out-of-car capabilities for the brand.

Fueled by legislation like Right to Repair and consumer pressure surrounding the lack of transparency in how automakers handle vehicle data, the automotive industry is embracing a more open data ecosystem. 

To meet evolving expectations, automakers must give vehicle owners the right to own their data, grant specific access to data, and choose who gets access to data. Smartcar's connected car API gives automakers and autocare and repair shops a secure, standardized data integration spearheaded by consumer choice.

How does Smartcar improve the autocare software experience? 

A standardized platform for connected car data is essential here for autocare retailers and automakers to securely engage in mutually beneficial data-sharing.  

With a Smartcar standardized data platform for independent retailers and after-market service providers, the connected car can fulfill its potential to reduce the cost of vehicle ownership and improve driver safety. 

Smartcar’s API helps autocare service providers use vehicle connectivity without the hassle of building and maintaining fragmented partnerships with automakers. Our platform is built on a secure infrastructure designed to help consumers make sense of their data and grant access to the retailers of their choice. 

With a single integration that taps into a majority of the connected cars on the road today, autocare retailers can use software to provide:

🎯 Personalized service recommendations

Retailers can use Smartcar’s API to monitor vehicle performance and retrieve data at set time intervals for the most accurate, up-to-date diagnostics. With this data on hand, retailers can engage customers in between shop visits with features like:

  • Tailored resources and reminders based on a customer’s vehicle condition and service history tracking. 
  • Mileage-based triggers or event-based alerts notifying customers about service recommendations.
  • Targeted marketing and customer nurture activities to upsell specific products and services based on historical and existing vehicle data.
  • Recommendations for nearby shops and available services based on the customer’s vehicle location and condition.

📱Digitized customer service 

Software-based access to vehicle data helps autocare retailers build a digitized experience for customers. With APIs, businesses can build applications that centralize customer reports, reminders, resources, and communication with customer service. Retailers can use this digital experience to engage customers regularly, build brand loyalty, and increase referrals. Businesses can use connected car APIs to power features like: 

  • Adding online appointment bookings as a call-to-action for service reminders and recommendations.
  • Automated forecast reports based on a vehicle’s existing and historical diagnostics data, service history, and service suggestions. 
  • Customer service portals or tools to promptly communicate with technicians and consultants about vehicle issues and service recommendations. 

⏳ Streamlined on-the-ground operations 

Connected car data equips autocare retailers with accurate and consistent visibility into a customer’s biggest autocare priorities and concerns. Businesses can anticipate and determine customer needs before they call or visit physical shops, freeing up bandwidth that would otherwise be spent reactively checking customers in, diagnosing issues in-store, searching for parts, and managing team availability. Retailers can use telematics to improve productivity and boost shop profits with capabilities like: 

  • Inventory management workflows based on a customer’s predicted needs for parts. 
  • Faster contactless check-ins based on a vehicle’s VIN. 
  • Optimizing schedules and resource availability with more pre-booked appointments and up-to-date visibility into issues before vehicles arrive. 

🧰 Roadside assistance integrations 

Autocare retailers can build customer loyalty and increase revenue from on-site repairs by integrating roadside assistance into their application experience. Access to live vehicle data allows retailers to implement trigger-based alerts notifying them if a customer encounters issues like a flat tire, dead battery, or overheated engine. Retailers can then swiftly dispatch roadside assistance equipped with basic vehicle diagnostic data for them to address issues correctly as soon as they arrive. 

Beyond powering proactive actions, businesses today use Smartcar’s API to help them track down where a customer’s car is and to enable remote lock and unlock capabilities if a driver doesn’t want to wait around for a tow truck. 

An example of connected autocare software

Revvo uses Smartcar to helps tire retailers onboard vehicle owners onto their connected tire solution.

Revvo uses the connected car ecosystem to streamline interactions between vehicle owners, tire service retailers, and technicians within an AI-powered platform. 

Smartcar’s API allows Revvo to securely pull connected vehicle data like odometer readings, fuel tank and battery levels, and tire pressure. This helps tire retailers and vendors do a few things: 

  1. Reduce overall operating costs: In addition to reducing spending on ordering and shipping OBD-II dongles, retailers can use live vehicle data to proactively manage technician schedules and optimize inventory. 
  2. Drive more shop visits and revenue: Use up-to-date vehicle reporting to help fleets and vehicle owners stay on top of service schedules with tailored event-based reminders — like alerts when tire pressure drops below a certain level. 
  3. Increase customer engagement and satisfaction: Provide vehicle owners with an easy-to-use system for setting up push alerts, scheduling appointments, and receiving service recommendations based on their vehicle’s current and forecasted performance. In the onboarding flow below, you can see how tire retailers use Smartcar’s API to access Revvo’s TireIQ platform. With a seamless API integration across 40 vehicle brands, retailers can promptly engage their customer base with predictive maintenance alerts and nudge them toward nearby shop locations. 

Looking for a connected car API for your autocare software?

Here are a few resources to help you make that decision! You can also schedule a meeting with our team to explore incorporating Smartcar into your autocare software. 

  • Our buyer's guide to connected car platforms (includes a free checklist and sample questions to ask potential data vendors) 
  • Our Build vs Buy guide for automotive businesses and developers 
  • Smartcar’s State of Connected Car Apps report exploring driver interest in independent automotive services and applications (Sneak peek: 64% of drivers we surveyed think that external applications provide better telematics features than their automaker’s applications.) 

How to scale EV integrations for DERMS software

Winona Rajamohan

9 min read

February 1, 2024
Energy
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Distributed energy resource management systems (DERMS) vendors play a critical role in helping utilities achieve energy security and mitigate climate risks.  A 2020 study found that proactively managing distributed energy resources (DERs) like EVs can reduce the curtailment of renewable energy by up to 40%.

Supply chain disruptions are impacting the rollout of large-scale renewable energy projects. Still, leading utilities are investing in automating individual and aggregated DERs to increase clean energy supply. DERMS and virtual power plant software play a critical role in empowering energy providers with tools to forecast energy needs and deploy the right assets at the right time.

With transportation electrification policies set to make electric vehicles the new norm, communicating with EVs is and will continue to be an important component for DERMS providers to integrate into their programs.

According to SEPA’s 2023 Utility Transformation Profile, 52% of respondents are engaging with external partners to increase EV charging deployment to manage demand in their service area.

Last summer, Rolling Energy Resources (RER), helped utilities across 16 states in the US run 30 demand response events. Powered by Smartcar’s API, they can efficiently communicate with EVs to detect when and where vehicles charge and how much energy is consumed while charging. They can also automatically start and stop charging select EV brands and models.

In this guide, we explore how a connected car API platform can help the best DERMS vendors:

  • Retrieve up-to-date information from EVs during home and away charging
  • Remotely control EV charging to balance demand and supply on the grid
  • Accommodate a majority of EVs in a service territory
  • Provide easy opt-in for residents

What is a Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS)?

A distributed energy resource management system is a platform that manages distributed energy resources, which are small energy-generating appliances that customers can use to reduce dependency on central power grids. These DERs include wind turbines, solar panels, battery storage systems, and customer-owned devices like solar inverters, smart thermostats, smart heaters, and more.

DERMS software centralizes these distributed energy resources into a power source that utilities can tap into to balance power supply and demand. Regulators are working to maximize distributed energy resources to scale grid capacity and build grid resilience in the coming decade. For example, Order 2222 in the United States requires regional transmission organizations and independent system operators to allow DERs to participate in wholesale energy markets. 

DERMS software plays a crucial role in helping utilities bridge the gap between distributed energy resource assets, DER device owners, and energy markets. 

Leveraging DERMS software as a powerful smart grid solution 

In the United States, the Department of Energy announced in October 2023 a $3.5 billion grant to expand renewable energy capacity, integrate batteries and electric vehicles into power infrastructure, and build microgrids. DERMS software gives energy providers a smart grid solution they can use to:

  • Lower the cost of upgrading grid infrastructure: Building a carbon-free grid could cost between $330 billion to $740 billion without optimizations. Flexible integrations with renewable energy resources and DER assets help grids manage power supply and demand without rehauling existing power infrastructure.

  • Improve grid resilience and efficiency: DERMS software can optimize DER deployment based on market prices and energy demand, maximizing how DERs can contribute to the grid and become an attractive incentive for end-users to use these assets.

  • Increase the usage of renewable energy sources: The duck curve is a prevalent problem that holds grids back from fully maximizing available energy resources. Grids can use DERMS software to forecast loads, get real-time visibility into renewable energy generation, and automate workflows that control how and when customers can tap into these energy sources. 

As we’ve discussed above, electric vehicles are an important asset for distributed energy resource management that utilities are prioritizing. We see this in conversations with DERMS and virtual power plant software that helps utilities optimize customer enrollment for EV programs. Let’s explore how connected car APIs help DERMS software boost grid stability and reduce friction.

Why integrate DERMS software with an EV API platform?

Utilities can communicate with EVs using Level 2 chargers, but only 35% of households with EVs have these chargers installed. This introduces some points of friction:

  • Limits control over EVs and the quality of data to when the car is plugged in
  • Complex installations and longer wait times on the customer’s end
  • Inaccessibility for renters and residents of multi-unit housing

97% of EVs are connected vehicles, giving utilities the perfect opportunity to leverage software-based integrations.

Hardware-agnostic connectivity is more agile, cost-effective, and user-friendly at scale. But the time and headcount investment for building and maintaining this data infrastructure is comparable to establishing an entirely separate team or organization.  

This is because the reliability of your EV integrations depends on your ability to manage fragmented proprietary APIs, standardize large volumes of vehicle data, and meet enterprise-grade security compliance standards.

This is what it takes to build a single vehicle integration from scratch:

Resources needed to build DERMS software integrations from scratch

🔋 Thinking about building EV integrations for your DERM system?

If you’re deciding between building EV integrations or working with an EV API provider, read our guide to learn:

  • How to know if your app will benefit from a “buy” decision
  • The average resource expenditure for building vehicle integrations from scratch
  • A checklist for vetting potential integration vendors

👉 Get your copy

Here are four reasons why working with a connected car API platform — directly or through a partner — can equip your DERMS software with stable EV API integrations and expertise.

Scalable data collection across EV makes and models

EV industry statistics signal heavy investment and rapid growth in the production of EV models across brands with varying price points and capabilities — with researchers expecting 400 new EV models from 2018 through the end of 2023.

Each brand has unique data that has to be standardized to be actionable and useful. Doing this at scale is impossible without a team of developers solely focused on sorting this data out. A connected car API platform takes this off your plate so you can use a single integration to communicate with a majority of EVs without being held back by brand-specific nuances.

How DERMS software integrate with EVs using a car API platform


“If we had not partnered with Smartcar, we would have had to invest fully in a development team,” said RER’s CEO and co-founder, Scott Dimetrosky. “With Smartcar, we have immediate, reliable access to nearly every EV on the road today.”

Actionable integrations for load management

Beyond collecting EV data like battery capacity and state of charge, car APIs also power event-based action. Utilities can automate active load management across EV brands that support the capability to remotely start and stop charging.

Optiwatt, an EV charging mobile app, uses this API functionality to give customers a “set it and forget it” charging schedule that automatically kicks in when energy is less in demand and costs are lower.

Smartcar also gives utilities and utility partners standardized resources to leverage brand-specific capabilities to actively manage EV charging. For brands like Tesla, Chevrolet, and Cadillac, you can use our SDKs and APIs to set a vehicle’s charge limit during charging sessions.

Easier opt-in and onboarding for customers

EV telematics reduces friction in customer enrollment by omitting the need to install compatible smart charging hardware. Residents simply need to connect their vehicle to DERMS software by logging in to their connected services account — which most EV drivers access regularly.

This shorter onboarding and learning curve means fewer roadblocks for expansion and more opportunities for utilities to scale marketing efforts and provide better customer education on the benefits of new offerings.

RER has seen success with this software-driven onboarding process (you can also watch Scott walk through this in the video below):

  1. Utility partners invite residents to join the program
  2. Residents enter their email and first name
  3. Residents are brought through Smartcar Connect to log in to their connected services account
  4. Residents view a list of EV data requested by RER
  5. Residents click “Allow” to consent to that data being shared

 

Real-time visibility into API errors and service interruptions

To give residents a reliable EV integration, you need a dedicated team to monitor and address API irregularities immediately to avoid downtime. It’s important to note that OEM APIs are also continuously evolving. The integration you’ve built today will look different in the next six months because of API changes made by automakers every month or so.

“Our team was challenged with the task of managing, standardizing, and maintaining 3rd party APIs. If any of our supported vehicles had a change in API or authentication, our team had to switch focus to patch the issues,” said Casey Donahue, founder at Optiwatt.

The Optiwatt team wanted an established EV API provider to take this workload off their plate. By working with Smartcar, they get the additional support of an engineering team that focuses solely on keeping track of unannounced API changes. Our engineering cycles include dedicated blocks of time to identify and debug API irregularities as soon as they happen.

5 leading DERMS and energy management software

The following top DERMS vendors are committed to enhancing grid reliability with software-based EV integrations.

🔋 Leading examples of DERMS software:

  1. Rolling Energy Resources
  2. Bidgely
  3. Amp X
  4. AutoGrid
  5. EnergyHub

Rolling Energy Resources

Rolling Energy Resources is an energy efficiency and demand response consulting firm that partners with utilities across 16 states in the US. This allows them to serve one of the largest geographic footprints of any load management company in the country. RER provides demand response, time-of-use assistance, and EV monitoring services to utilities in the United States. Using Smartcar’s API, their software-based solution can connect to 95% of EVs on the road today.

Bidgely 

Bidgely is an energy intelligence platform that uses AI to turn smart meter data into actionable utility strategies for better customer engagement and optimal grid outcomes. It uses smart meter disaggregation to accurately identify and detect which of their customers have EVs, eliminating customer self-reporting and additional hardware installations are required. Bidgely uses Smartcar EV API endpoints to allow drivers to automate charging proactively during recommended times.

Amp X

Amp X, the technology arm of Amp Energy, is a grid-edge technology platform created to address energy transition challenges like voltage instability, infrastructure costs, and grid resilience. Amp X’s solutions include smart transformers, asset management for front-of-the-meter and back-of-the-meter assets, and an energy management system with smart charging capabilities. The platform uses Smartcar’s API to view an EV’s battery status and capacity, charge status, location, and to remotely start and stop charging.

Want to learn more about working with customers like Rolling Energy Resources, FlexCharging, and Amp X? Let us know!

AutoGrid  

AutoGrid’s DERMS software helps utilities connect to and manage DERs like smart inverters, storage, combined heat and power units (CHPs), electric vehicles, and more. The vendor-neutral platform gives energy organizations the flexibility to integrate new and third-party DERs while avoiding vendor lock-in. AutoGrid also has more than a decade’s worth of experience in EV management, giving utilities a seamless experience onboarding drivers, optimizing EV services, and incorporating consumer preferences.

EnergyHub

EnergyHub is known to be one of the largest ecosystems for DER partners. This DERMS software pioneered the bring-your-own-device model for DERs, allowing utilities to easily manage customer-owned devices like electric vehicles, smart thermostats, and battery storage systems. EnergyHub’s EV solution connects utilities to all leading EV brands and EVSEs. Utilities can also leverage various marketing channels — like OEM apps, email, and their ChargingRewards app — to enroll more customers and forecast EV loads accurately.

How do DERMS software communicate with EVs using a car API?

Smartcar’s platform for EV APIs gives utilities and utility partners a centralized set of integrations that allow applications to talk to over 100 EV models. Here’s a quick breakdown of what that looks like:

Step 1: Standardization

Smartcar’s platform does the heavy lifting of standardizing the APIs of over 30 brands so developers can work with consistent error codes, SDKs, documentation, and data quality validation. For more granular data on select brands, we also provide an extended list of brand-specific endpoints.

Step 2: Authorization

All requests made to Smartcar require an access token. The access token gives apps a secure way to make the API request, authorize connectivity to a vehicle, and then interact with that vehicle. Token management is another area apps don’t have to worry about, as it’s built into our API platform.

Step 3: Authentication

Before vehicle owners share data, they’re brought through our OAuth2 authentication flow, Smartcar Connect.

Smartcar Connect is the only touchpoint a vehicle owner has with Smartcar — but it’s an incredibly important one. A customer may drop off a managed charging program’s onboarding process if they are unsure about their vehicle’s connectivity, are concerned about data privacy, or if onboarding instructions are difficult to understand.

Smartcar’s user authentication flow was designed to mitigate this with three simple steps:

  1. Select a car brand
  2. Sign in to a connected services account
  3. View and consent data
How Amp X uses Smartcar Connect in its smart charging app, ALICE.

Step 4: Collection

A vehicle owner only needs to sign in once, and they’re good to go!

Apps can automate data retrieval at regular intervals through our event webhooks, giving utilities and program participants peace of mind to optimize charging with less manual work.

What to look for in an EV API platform

Kristin White, Chief Operating Officer at Intelligent Transportation Society of America, says in an episode of The Mobility Podcast that there’s a “huge disconnect between design thinking, Silicon Valley innovators, researchers, and implementers on the vehicle and infrastructure side.”

Vehicle-to-grid communication for DERMS or virtual power plant software is only one part of the grid modernization conversation. Still, even so, utilities and their partners face challenges in designing programs that are cost-efficient, accessible, and include both home and away charging.

In a webinar on smart charging hosted by Smartcar, we found that more than 40% of our attendees were monetizing smart charging programs. When asked about the biggest challenge to implementing a smart charging program, integrating with electric vehicles and finding a reliable technology partner came out on top.

If you’re a utility or DERMS provider evaluating a car API platform for your EV program, download our vendor assessment checklist to see how Smartcar stacks up. 

Get the vendor assessment checklist for utilities and energy retailers ⚡️

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How to empower utilities with secure EV telematics programs

Winona Rajamohan

4 min read

January 29, 2024
Energy
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Maria Kretzing, GM of Electric Vehicles and Analytics at Bidgely, joined Smartcar CEO Sahas Katta, to discuss why EV telematics boosts managed charging enrollment and how utilities can ensure data privacy and security when deploying this software-led strategy. Watch the event recording here or keep reading for key takeaways and a telematics vendor assessment checklist.

Why aren’t some demand response programs successful? 

According to Maria, customer enrollment and engagement are the biggest barriers to a successful demand response program. 

Studies show that although regulators expect 80% of eligible customers to enroll in a managed EV charging program, only 20 to 30% actually do. Comfort plays a big role here. EV drivers are not comfortable participating in a program that isn’t transparent about data collection and management and the overall impact managed charging would have on their vehicles or day-to-day habits. 

“Some traditional methods have complex enrollment [processes] — like needing WiFi for electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) where you can suddenly lose connection to the device,” Maria says, touting the benefits of EV telematics in overcoming hardware-related pitfalls. 

“The thing I would note about Smartcar that really should be the guidance for how we implement [managed charging] programs is it’s a matter of a few clicks to connect the device, it’s fully transparent to the customer, but doesn’t require the customer to jump from application to application to confirm enrollment,” she adds. 

A report by SEPA concludes that customers are unlikely to drop out of a managed charging program once they find a program that gives them that optimum level of value and comfort. With an easier enrollment process and EV telematics providing more robust data than EVSEs, Bidgely has seen higher enrollment rates, fewer drop-offs, and most importantly, high continuation rates for existing participants. 

Interoperability is the new clean energy standard 

Proactive managed charging is largely a ‘set it and forget it’ play. But this approach requires utilities to better understand their customers. For example, a driver’s familiarity with EVs, charging habits, average travel mileage, and household energy consumption will influence the kind of value they want to receive from both their vehicle and their demand response program. 

But with EVSE charging hardware, utilities don’t can’t see if customers charging their car elsewhere or what their battery level is — which makes it hard to optimize  programs for these value drivers. 

Utilities need access to EV telematics data across as many EV brands of possible to get that level of visibility and impact. But it’s uneralistic for energy providers to reach carbonization goals while engaging in the slow and resource-intensive process of managing over 30 individual partnerships with automakers. 

Overcoming this challenge calls for automakers to open up their data to third-party developers who can accelerate the clean energy transition with user-centric programs and solutions. 


It's in the best interest of the broader [energy] space as a whole to go in that direction and to support the policies that [enable] ownership or customer availability of [EV] data.

— Maria Kretzing, GM of Electric Vehicles and Analytics at Bidgely


Bidgely believes that automakers, utilities, and clean energy vendors must encourage interoperability between different devices and brands to solve the huge problem that is grid resilience and decarbonization. 

Access to standardized EV data helps customers visualize their electric vehicle as both a transportation and energy asset. Automakers can build excitement for electric vehicles by enabling drivers to apply for suitable energy preferences that reduce energy costs and transmissions. 

On the other hand, utilities can increase participation for managed charging programs, shift load demand from peak hours, and save billions of dollars in infrastructure upgrades. 

Telematics security best practices for utilities

If interoperability is the new standard, how can utilities ensure that they have the right mechanisms in place to keep customer data safe and secure? 

Maria recommends utility IT teams get a walkthrough of how vendors like Bidgely collect data from customers to power managed EV charging programs, including how they work with vendors like Smartcar to access accurate live data. 

Utilities can also access SOC 2 certifications, penetration testing reports, and GDPR compliance documentation ahead of time. 

API interoperability and security is an emerging concept in the automotive world despite it being well adapted and executed by financial institutions, social media platforms, and more. A lack of clarity surrounding vehicle API safety is apparent, and often leads to misconceptions. 

“What [Smartcar] offering is not just a firehose where you can pick any car and get anyone's charging status or control their charging, but rather that it's user consent opt in explicitly through OAuth2.0 that the vehicle owner has to choose what application or utility they're connecting their car to and see what specific permissions they'll be sharing,” says Sahas. 

Bidgely has seen more success when it gives customers the ability to opt in to managed charging programs by assessing its data sharing requirements and giving utilities permission to retrieve those particular data points.


We've been able to achieve a lot in terms of giving customers full control and full choice so that they can decide how when they participate in demand response events.

— Maria Kretzing, GM of Electric Vehicles and Analytics at Bidgely


Get an EV telematics vendor assessment checklist

Smartcar works with partners like Bidgely to help utilities evaluate EV telematics security and compatibility for managed charging programs. We help utilities answer questions like…

“Will this connected car platform equip your EV program with enterprise-grade security compliance that meets industry standards?”

“How does your connected car API platform monitor integration performance and communicate with you about technical inconsistencies?”

“What qualifications does your connected car API platform have for issuing and managing commands with electric and connected vehicles?” 

If you’re a utility evaluating Smartcar as a vendor for your DERMS and VPP partners, download this guide see how Smartcar stacks up. 

Get the vendor assessment checklist for utilities and energy retailers ⚡️

EVs and Virtual Power Plant Software: Enabling 100% clean energy for consumers

Winona Rajamohan

6 min read

January 23, 2024
Energy
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The Biden administration set an ambitious target for power grids in the United States: Operating on 100% clean energy by the year 2035. 

Reaching this target is no easy feat. The distribution systems we have today are not optimized for distributed energy resources (DERs) — like electric vehicles, heat pumps, solar panels, and smart thermostat — or electricity spikes due to unprecedented weather. Implemented over a century ago, 70% of transmission and distribution lines in the US are in the second half of their lifespans.

The biggest obstacle boils down to utilities having enough resources to upgrade grid infrastructure to support the integration of renewable energy resources and proactively control loads during peak demand. Without measures to optimize these costs, a carbon-free grid by 2035 could cost between $330 billion to $740 billion.  

One of these cost-saving measures is deploying virtual power plants to manage DERS. The Department of Energy is capitalizing on this opportunity with its recent announcement on plans to triple the capacity of VPPs by 2030 — a move that could reduce grid costs by $10 billion annually. 

Why the emphasis on virtual power plants? 

Virtual power plants (VPPs) are not a new energy initiative — but the immense urgency for flexible sources of renewable energy definitely is.

The COP28 climate summit ended with nations approving a roadmap for “transitioning away from fossil fuels.” Negotiations were made to triple the capacity of renewable energy and double energy efficiency by 2030. The impact of decentralized customer-owned renewable energy sources is a no-brainer for accelerating efforts toward this goal. 

The idea of aggregating DERs into ‘virtual utilities’ was first introduced in 1997. Over the past 20 years, virtual power plant programs have undergone large shifts thanks to learnings from early experiments and pilot projects, more diverse DER portfolios, and the maturity of software interoperability between DERs and energy infrastructure.

 An analysis of virtual power plants from 2000 to June 2022 maps out this progression into a few phases, each with distinct goals: 

Analysis of virtual power plants from 2000 to June 2022.

There are a few notable trends we can see in these developments. 

  1. Electric vehicles are a core energy resource driving investment into new programs. 
  2. Proactive and coordinated load control are seen as necessary initiatives for grid resilience.
  3. Cloud software sits at the center of efforts to simplify the management of diverse DERs, elevating the importance of virtual power plant software.

With strict targets on the line, the energy transmission system would need to expand by 50-90% to support a transition to 100% clean energy. VPPs can significantly reduce these costs by tapping into aggregated pools of power from DERs, replacing the need for physical power plants and large system upgrades. 

EVs are necessary to expand virtual power plant programs

EV charging is a big asset for VPPs because of its flexibility as an energy source.

But the ideal VPP program can look very different for each consumer depending on their driving habits, budget, location, household energy usage, and more. Virtual power plant software benefit from using a standardized EV API platform because of its agility to support different charging preferences while catering to a growing market of EV makes and models.

The need to personalize energy programs for maximum customer engagement is why we believe the Department of Energy should mandate automakers to let drivers enroll in third-party virtual power plant solutions.

It’s unrealistic to pigeonhole drivers to a specific demand response or VPP program. Giving consumers a choice on how they use their EV charging data helps them tap into the benefits of financial rewards, grid reliability and resilience, and environmental health.

EV APIs accelerate virtual power plant software deployment

How does an EV API lead to more comprehensive, EV-friendly virtual power plant software?

Streamline EV data access and management

In the US, EV sales were up almost 50% in Q3 2023 compared to that of 2022. However, Tesla’s market share fell 50% last year while brands like Volvo, Mercedes, and Hyundai saw a 200% increase in sales. The same trends are expected in Europe despite Tesla strongly leading the pack. An EV API platform helps future-proof VPP programs against these market changes. A ‘build’ strategy that requires developers to develop one integration at a time limits the number of EV brands the program can support.

This may suffice for short-term goals, but programs will be forced to reevaluate their offerings as EV market share fluctuates and continues to diversify with new models. Having a single point of accountability for EV integration management was critical in helping Rolling Energy Resources connect their customers to 95% of EVs on the road in the US. 


Smartcar does the heavy lifting of connecting to the vehicles themselves in a reliable and consistent manner. This is difficult work, especially since the EV market changes quickly. 

— Bill LeBlanc, Chief Catalyst at Rolling Energy Resources


Reduce dependency on EV charging hardware

Without EV API integrations, drivers typically require a Level 2 charger to support communication between EVs and the grid. But many drivers can get by without the charging speed of a Level 2 charger — research shows that only 35% of households with EVs have these chargers installed. Reliance on EV chargers introduces more limitations by forcing drivers to opt for a more costly, complex, and time-consuming process that is also inaccessible for renters and residents of multi-unit housing. Software-based integrations through APIs allow virtual power plant software to maximize customer enrollment by emphasizing a frictionless user experience.

We see this in how grid optimization platforms like Amp X use EV APIs to minimize drop-offs during the onboarding process. With secure access to an EV’s telematics unit, Amp X can eliminate any concerns about hardware installation and increase customer engagement from their very first interaction with their program’s mobile application.

Gain consistent insight into an EV’s state of charge

Level 2 chargers also don’t provide enough data for virtual power plant software to understand a vehicle’s state of charge. This visibility is critical for all DERMS and VPP providers to optimize EV charging demand and supply.

With up-to-date visibility into an EV’s state of charge, VPP software providers can accurately shift charging schedules and incentivize customer behavior without requiring vehicle owners to stop what they’re doing and take action themselves. These small changes to the customer experience go a long way in helping VPP programs increase EV participation, aggregate more stored energy, and adjust charging patterns in real-time.

Automate proactive load control

EV APIs help VPP programs easily coordinate and automate EV charging actions such as remotely starting or stopping charging sessions and setting EV charge limits. These hardware-agnostic integrations are also better suited for programs to collect accurate battery data from enrolled EVs at specific times, even if they’re not plugged into a charger. These automated actions power real-time load shifts, introduce more convenience for drivers, and provide consistent data for load forecasting and modeling efforts.

Evolve programs with a flexible data infrastructure

Energy retailers and consumers are still figuring out what the future of distributed energy will look like as EV adoption continues to climb. Driver incentives will have to change, reflecting new energy infrastructure and legislation. The capabilities of vehicles themselves will also evolve as EV manufacturing matures and more EV applications emerge in the market.

EV API platforms like Smartcar will serve as an agile foundation for developers to upgrade existing programs with new offerings without having to uproot customer hardware or dedicate hundreds of developer hours to backend EV integrations. 

Today's virtual power plants challenges

Despite virtually all EVs being shipped with the technology to communicate with grid software, virtual power plant programs are held back by challenges that ripple across the entire energy industry. EV APIs aim to help VPP providers avoid common pitfalls by: 

  • Keeping costs low for distributed energy resource adoption and VPP deployment: Scaling VPPs is feasible and realistic only if governments, utilities, and non-profit organizations can effectively access the necessary resources required by their distribution system planning efforts. DERMS providers optimize resources for EV deployment by minimizing hardware installation to access data, implementing driver-friendly acquisition and adoption processes, and minimizing people resources for managing EV integrations and supporting customers on-site.
  • Strengthening DER adoption with the right incentives: VPPs are dependent on customer-owned devices, hence putting customer adoption strategies at the forefront of the conversation. Building suitable incentive structures and engagement tactics is imperative to the success of a VPP. Operators can personalize programs with rewards that align with EV charging behavior and customer preferences, such as electricity bill savings, emissions savings, and power reliability.
  • Simplifying VPP enrollment: Friction in VPP enrollment will significantly limit the number of customer-owned devices in a VPP. Customers should be able to easily opt their devices into the VPP programs of their choice and have the flexibility to configure their experience to suit their daily behavior. VPPs must encourage OEMs to enable VPP functionalities for customers across a wider range of DERs. Not only does this mean equipping EVs with VPP support, but it should also encompass giving consumers the freedom to choose the types of VPP programs they want to enroll in. 
  • Standardizing EV data for efficient VPP operations: EV battery and charging data differ greatly across EV makes and models. Standardized EV data, user authorization workflows, and integration management practices can help organizations spend less time designing VPP pilots and programs. These guidelines also allow VPPs to efficiently expand support across more EV makes and models without compromising data privacy and the user experience. 

What to look for in a virtual power plant software

If you’re looking for an EV API platform to scale your VPP program, you’ll want to find a partner that can help you maintain EV data privacy and security, tackle resource-intensive projects on your roadmap, and visualize long-term success at scale. 

How do these qualities add up in terms of platform features and capabilities? Use this vendor selection checklist to help you evaluate and select the right EV API vendor. Book a demo with Smartcar today to review this checklist and discover what an EV API platform can look like for your program.

Unlocking growth: 5 key electric vehicle stats for 2024

Erica Bickel

5 min read

January 10, 2024
EV charging
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2023 was an amazing year for EV growth, surpassing 14 million units sold globally. Whether due to public policy, regulatory changes, or lower cost of ownership, consumers are embracing EVs, BEVs, PHEVs, and FCEVs at a steady pace. So what should we expect in 2024? In this response to last year’s article, we round up the best and brightest electric vehicle statistics from 2023, as we look forward to the year ahead.

⏰ Short on time? Jump to the most relevant 2024 EV statistic to you.

  1. 15% of worldwide car sales are EVs
  2. Almost 50% of new car registrations in the EU were electric
  3. The automotive retail journey is changing
  4. Introducing the immediate $7,500 vehicle tax credit
  5. BYD overtakes Tesla models in Q4 EV sales

15% of worldwide car sales are EVs

(Source: Bloomberg NEF)

Clean energy proponents, rejoice! In an exciting update to last year’s report, electric car sales now make up more than 15% of the global passenger vehicle market, up from 14% in 2022, and 8.9% in 2021.

Global passenger vehicle sales by drivetrain

In tandem, traditional gas-powered vehicle sales (or those with an internal combustion engine, or ICE) dropped to 64.2 million units, a decrease of 2.4 million units since 2021.

Leading this charge is China, with 27% of all cars sold in the first six months of 2023 classified as electric. Europe follows closely behind with 22% of total vehicle sales, a significant jump spurred by legislation introduced in and after 2019.

Within Europe, the most sizable changes in 1H come from:

👉 France: 25% share of sales

👉 United Kingdom: 24% share of sales

👉 Germany: 22% share of sales

👉 Italy: 9% share of sales

North America falls behind at 8.8%, and Japan even further at 3.6% — but luckily, these numbers are expected to climb in 2024.

Almost 50% of new car registrations in the EU were electric

(Source: Reuters)

New data from the European Union paints a promising picture for the future of EV growth in the region. Between January and November 2023, nearly half of all new passenger car registrations (47.6%) were electric. These include all-electric models, plug-in hybrids, and fully hybrid vehicles.

In total, new car registrations in the EU were up 4.6% from last year, with 144,378 all-electric EVs registered (a 16.4% increase from 2022).

As we anticipate 2024 trends, we can already see a clear consumer preference for hybrid vehicles, comprising 1.5 million new vehicle registrations in Germany, France, and Italy. Despite supply chain challenges and rising costs, manufacturers are scrambling to gain a piece of the pie — with Volkswagen Group (26.1%), Stellantis (18.2%), Renault Group (10.8%), and Hyundai Group (8.5%) holding the largest market share.

👀 Smartcar’s API is compatible with over 100 EV models comprised of 30+ brands. View our compatibility page to see the full list, and determine how your app can connect.

👉 Check compatibility

The automotive retail journey is changing

(Source: McKinsey & Company)

EV buyers want to be wooed in 2024. 😍

In McKinsey’s far-reaching Future of Auto Retail survey, 4,000+ global respondents demand tailored, personal, and intentional experiences from their retailer of choice.

With more consumers considering an EV than ever before, new retail formats, test drives, and digital mediums will be increasingly important to car manufacturers looking to stand out amidst a crowded market — opening the door to new players with innovative ideas.

As a sign of the times, over 50% of those polled stated that they would be willing to purchase from a new brand when making the switch to an EV. For BEVs, this figure rose to 70%.

Due in part to a lackluster purchasing experience, consumers are ditching brand loyalty in favor of additional trims or model options (33%), customizable features (32%), flexibility in configurations post-purchase (28%), and the all-important test drive (32%).

Smartcar’s own 2023 State of Connected Car Apps validates this data, as our findings concluded that of United States respondents, “51% say they would consider switching to a different vehicle model or brand if they could leverage a larger ecosystem of car apps and services.”

Although the online purchasing space is growing, 87% of respondents still want to test drive before buying, citing evaluating performance (61%) and comparing traditional cars with EVs (45%) as reasons for face time. All in all, 44% of consumers want a personal connection, and ideally, a higher chance of price negotiation, with their auto dealer.

In the coming year, we can evaluate who will be successful in the EV market based on their willingness to adapt to consumer preferences, anticipate value, and proactively respond to the changing landscape of the automotive buyer journey.

Introducing the immediate $7,500 vehicle tax credit

(Source: Forbes)

Gone are the days of filing and waiting months for an EV tax credit refund! In January 2024, the IRS will begin allowing immediate, day-of applications for a down payment on new (and some pre-owned) electric vehicle purchases. 💵

To use, qualified buyers may transfer their claimed credit to a verified auto dealer. From there, the dealership will submit the EV sales receipt to the IRS online, receiving a direct deposit payment within three business days. Buyers must prove eligibility pre-purchase, and file their income tax return as normal (as proof).

This initiative, a product of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, serves to increase EV adoption by reducing barriers to entry for would-be buyers. In line with President Biden’s larger “Build Back Better” plan, the credit aims to offset dealer markups, inflation, and rising MSRPs, reducing sticker shock, particularly for younger or first-time EV buyers.

To see if you or your vehicle is eligible for the credit, view the requirements here.

BYD overtakes Tesla models in Q4 EV sales

(Source: BBC)

The EV market is heating up for Tesla, as China’s BYD emerges as a formidable competitor worldwide. Although Tesla came out on top of total vehicle sales in 2023, BYD sold more electric vehicles in the last three months than the established EV giant.

With 526,000 BEVs sold in Q4, BYD’s advantage comes from its in-house battery operation, allowing the company to cut costs internally without relying on third-party manufacturers. In December, these cuts gave rise to a 70% increase in sales.

But what does this mean for Tesla? 🤔

Although Tesla reached 1.8 million deliveries, an increase from 2022, their end performance fell short of initial expectations. In an effort to meet a 2 million delivery goal, Tesla repeatedly lowered buying costs in an attempt to entice buyers.

As Tesla’s EV market share falls to 50%, additional players like Nissan, Mercedes, Volvo, and Hyundai experienced 200%+ growth as compared to 2022. With brand-new models in a variety of trims and price ranges, Kelley Blue Book estimates that the number of EVs available to purchase will have doubled by 2027.

Meanwhile, data shows that Chinese consumers are more likely to purchase an EV, especially online — giving BYD another advantage as those in North America continue to show hesitation. In 2024, will BYD pull ahead of Tesla in the EV auto race?

Stepping into 2024

The above implications, and how they will affect the future of transportation, are significant.

Smartcar works with pioneers in the mobility sector, including private companies, energy providers, government agencies, and end-consumers to effectively promote and utilize EVs for all. Our EV APIs already play a pivotal role in enabling the development of applications for emission-free car sharing and rentals, mileage-based insurance, intelligent EV charging, and other industries.

If you’re interested in staying up-to-date on the latest EV industry trends, subscribe to our newsletter, or book a meeting with our team to learn how Smartcar’s APIs may work for you.

Report: Why drivers are turning to third-party car apps

Winona Rajamohan

6 min read

January 3, 2024
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At Smartcar, we have a front-row view of drivers' enthusiasm for connected car apps. We see this daily as our customers rapidly onboard vehicles onto our platform across all kinds of mobility use cases.

However, we know there is skepticism about the benefits of vehicle connectivity and third-party solutions. There are overarching assumptions that vehicle connectivity leads to compromised driver privacy and vehicle safety — which is entirely possible if automakers, solution providers, and data platforms operate with little regard for consumer choice and data transparency.

Given the trends we saw on our platform, we knew there was an opportunity to explore what drivers felt about third-party connected car apps. What motivates them to download these applications? What do these applications have that their automaker’s connected services don’t? What data privacy measures do drivers find important?

So, we conducted our first annual State of Connected Car Apps report.

In this report, we asked a randomized pool of drivers in the United States these questions. The survey respondents owned a mix of connected and unconnected cars and electric and gas-powered vehicles. Our report explores:

1. Driver sentiment about third-party apps

2. The features & compatibilities that motivate drivers to use third-party car apps and services

3. The types of services drivers want to access with vehicle telematics

Here are five learnings we discovered from the report and discussed in an expert panel with TechInsight’s Roger Lanctot, Recurrent’s Scott Case, and Smartcar’s Dan Teeter.

#1: Drivers want more than what’s offered in their connected services app

74% are unsatisfied with their current connected services application and experience.
Smartcar's 2023 State of Connected Car Apps Report

Over the past decade, automakers have done little to change the core features offered in their connected services, which tend to revolve around navigation and remote service features. However, drivers today want to use telematics to interact with their vehicles in a more personalized and purpose-driven way — which is why they turn to applications like Recurrent to fill that gap.


"The amount and pace of innovation [in connected services] hasn’t kept up with the industry standard — which everyone compares to their smartphone that is always getting better.

If automotive telematics platforms aren't able to even approach that level of innovation and pace of change, it's viewed as underwhelming. That’s a perception we'd like to find a way to change in the market."

— Dan Teeter, Director of Partnerships at Smartcar


Take the EV revolution as an example. Many connected services applications don’t give EV owners all the necessary functionalities to make sense of their vehicle health and performance.

Recurrent has almost 20,000 individual EV drivers who connect to the platform to get regular battery reports that compare the condition of their battery to other EVs out there. An EV manufacturer’s app doesn’t give drivers this information, with their connected services typically providing visibility into EV battery levels and charging preferences.

“You used to get your oil changed [in a combustion engine car] and you would get feedback from your mechanic a couple times a year and they put that little sticker on your windshield to say that everything looks great,” Scott says. “People aren’t getting that with EVs so they think of our application as a version of that sticker.”

#2: Drivers don’t want to pay for underwhelming vehicle telematics

Cost is the biggest cause of dissatisfaction with connected services. For a long time, automakers have been trying to figure out how to entice drivers to pay for connected services. Each automaker has its own pricing and payment terms, some more attractive than others, to get more engagement with telematics offerings.

Our panel of experts says that this pushback on cost is ultimately about more than just cost itself. It’s about paying for something you don’t like and don’t want to use.

The lack of alignment between drivers’ desired functionality and what’s in their connected services app leads to low levels of engagement and a lack of familiarity with how to use the application. This, in turn, creates a repeat cycle of drivers not finding value from connected services, having their automaker app become an afterthought, and then becoming frustrated when they have to pay a subscription fee.

#3 Drivers want vehicles that give them access to innovative services.

51% say they would consider switching to a different vehicle brand or model if they could leverage a bigger ecosystem of car apps and services.
Smartcar's 2023 State of Connected Car Apps Report

For half of the drivers we surveyed, an attractive vehicle doesn’t necessarily mean one with many built-in features — but rather one that unlocks opportunities to use external applications to fill that gap.

When drivers can use their automaker’s connected services to connect to purpose-built solutions — like Recurrent for battery reports, Bidgely for managing EV charging, and Uber to take on rideshare trips in their EVs — they’re more inclined to use or purchase a particular vehicle because of its connected services capabilities.

For automakers, this means more engagement on their connected services platform and, in the long run, more sales for their new connected cars.

This is why Smartcar believes open collaboration between automakers and third-party developers will result in more innovation, faster electrification, and a deeper understanding of driver preferences.

The findings of this report further support our mission to bridge the gap between automakers and third-party mobility applications with secure and standardized API integrations.

#4 Drivers want connected services to power a wide variety of use cases

From remotely locking and unlocking cars to scheduling EV charging and analyzing battery health, vehicle telematics unlocks countless use cases — just look at the diverse range of solutions Smartcar customers are building with our API.

Automakers can’t tackle this range of functionality by themselves.

This is another argument that supports the value of collaboration between automakers and third-party developers.

Electric vehicles are currently leading the charge for innovation in telematics. We’re seeing a huge spike in software solutions built for EV drivers, charging networks, utilities, and even departments of transportation.  If automakers restrict consumers from accessing these services, the vacuum of information about electrification will only widen.

#5: Drivers want data autonomy, transparency, and privacy

45% of respondents want a written breakdown of how an app will use the vehicle data collected from them.
Smartcar's 2023 State of Connected Car Apps Report

If vehicle information is required to power apps and services, drivers want to know how their data is used. They also want complete control over the process of handing that data to external parties — even if that data is anonymized.

However, the terms and conditions presented to drivers for enabling data-sharing aren’t always designed to be understood effectively. This proves to be a big point of friction and a cause of distrust among drivers who want complete certainty on who and what has access to their sensitive data.

“When you’re able to communicate [these terms and conditions] in a very visual, very simple way where a customer gets to opt in and say, ‘Yes, I agree to share certain information about my vehicle with Recurrent so they can make my EV ownership better,’ — and that's one thing versus having 30 pages worth of legalese that's only really meant for lawyers to deal with,” Dan says.

This doesn’t mean drivers don’t want to share their data. It means that drivers are willing to share that data under the right conditions with the applications of their choice. Research by TechInsights in China, North America, and Europe found that consumers are willing to exchange their privacy for a value proposition.


"The only problem we have in the [automotive] industry is that that exchange is not really explicit and is not really being spelled out.

Automakers will recite the catechism that the customer owns the data, but the average car owner has no idea where to find the data or has little knowledge of exactly which data is being gathered — and then they hear headlines about car companies selling data now that they may be selling anonymized data."

— Roger Lanctot, Director of Automotive Connected Mobility at TechInsights


Consumers are ready for the future of connected car apps

There isn’t a Swiss army knife to solve all the gaps between transportation infrastructure, electrification targets, and the consumer experience. Vehicle telematics is powerful when different players in the mobility ecosystem are empowered to use their strengths to accelerate innovation in different areas.

Connected services and connected car applications are becoming more ingrained into the vehicle ownership experience, and it’s important that automakers and third-party developers work together to give consumers user-friendly solutions that help them do more with cars — whether it’s by saving money, lowering carbon footprints, improving travel accessibility, or preserving vehicle health and safety.

For more data and insights, download the full report and watch a replay of our panel discussion.

Why EV managed charging programs use vehicle telematics

Winona Rajamohan

8 min read

January 1, 2024
Energy
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Managed charging programs are being rolled out across the country to reduce the strain on electric grids. Utilities today are exploring different ways to meet program goals, one of them being partnerships with API platforms to accelerate data collection and driver enrollment.

📝 A (clickable) summary of what's ahead:

📺 Want to learn more? Watch a replay of our webinar with Optiwatt and Leap Energy on how to optimize your EV smart charging business.

The use of vehicle telematics isn’t new in the electric vehicle (EV) industry.

97% of EVs are connected vehicles with built-in 4G or 5G cellular modems, and businesses and local governments are using connected car data to solve the challenges of mass EV adoption. Managed charging is no exception.

2030 targets for EV adoption have utilities rushing to the drawing board. Soon, the grid will feel the impact of millions of EV owners plugging in to charge during peak hours.

Without active load control, electricity blackouts will be the new normal.

Utilities need extensive EV data and infrastructure interoperability to implement successful managed charging programs. An agile data ecosystem across different services and devices — including EVs — makes programs easier to scale and customize, especially if 67% of utilities are planning to roll out a new program within the next two years.

Here’s how APIs can power the managed charging ecosystem so utilities can improve data collection, customer education, and energy program roadmaps.

First, what is managed charging? 

Utilities, DERMS software and virtual power plant software use EV managed charging to shift EV charging activity to accommodate factors like grid demand, time-of-use (TOU) electricity rates, and the availability of renewable energy sources. For example, Bidgely is a DERMS platform that works with utilities to gain visibility into resident’s EV charging patterns. With an EV API, residents can manage charging by enrolling in a utility program that actively schedules charging sessions during hours that are less expensive, carbon-intensive, and strenuous to the grid. 

What is the difference between unmanaged and managed charging? 

Unmanaged charging puts power grids at risk of unbalanced power supply and demand. If everyone was charging their EVs at night, this adds more stress to grids, especially if they’re already overloaded by demand during extreme weather. But imagine if this EV charging demand could instead be funnelled to hours when there is excess renewable energy production and lower rates. 

It’s a win-win for consumers and energy retailers. 

A study by the California Energy Commission found that shifting 20% of EV charging loads away to a different time or adding 30% of EV charging loads to a more optimal hour can save $56 per vehicle per year in grid electricity supply costs. 

“Studies show that managing EV charging in an intelligent manner can save nearly 70% of the costs of new utility grid infrastructure, literally saving tens of billions of dollars,” Bill LeBlanc, Chief Catalyst at Rolling Energy Resources tells us. 

Utilities can manage charging in two ways — with passive or active behavioral shifting efforts. 

  • Passive managed charging: Relies on behavioral nudges that require customers to take action themselves. For example, utilities can encourage customers to shift their changing patterns with incentives and discounted rates. These programs then alert customers using an application to remind them when its time to plug or unplug their electric vehicle.  
  • Active managed charging: Uses software to proactively shift an EV charging session based on real-time grid conditions without any customer intervention. An EV API unlocks this capability for managed charging progams, allowing customers to consent to a program starting and stopping a charging session and setting charge limits.

A good managed charging program starts with good data

First, programs need a deep understanding of mass EV behavior within a utility territory — like when and where they’re being charged, how much energy is used on an average day, and how to automate and predict load control intervention. Since utilities are relatively new to transportation electrification efforts, they need all the data they can get to do things right.

For this reason, some utilities are partnering with software providers to elevate data quantity and quality.

Stacy Noblet, Vice President of Transportation Electrification at ICF, says reaching EV adoption targets require immense coordination and collaboration to build the right infrastructure for passenger vehicles and fleets.

“We're seeing a lot of really cool announcements from companies that are collaborating, whether it's the automakers and the charging providers, or different software providers with hardware, [there’s a lot of] mixing and matching,” Noblet adds.

The EV charging space has seen disruption by many emerging innovative players in the software and hardware space. Utilities have been around for a very long time, but Noblet says there’s an opportunity for them to be just as new and groundbreaking as any emerging market entrant.

 


“[Innovation] doesn’t need to be a flashy company, but it can be a new and much more focused offering from an organization that’s been around for ages at this point.”

— Stacy Noblet, VP of Electrification Transportation at ICF


 

State agencies and local governments have been working with API partners to help utility territories conduct advanced analysis and forecasting on EV data. This form of collaboration between new and existing players in the electric vehicle ecosystem can benefit EV managed charging programs in the following ways:

🔢 Faster data collection across EV makes and models

With an API, program partners can get connected car data directly from vehicles without third-party electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE). A standardized platform for EV APIs lets drivers across different vehicle brands connect their car data to apps with a simple integration. This takes away the hassle of technical maintenance behemoths and complex hardware installation for utilities and drivers. This is how demand response firm, Rolling Energy Resources, uses APIs to provide utilities and local agencies with extensive oad research and charge management analysis — like when people charge, where they charge, and how much energy is consumed across a variety of EV brands in a territory.

🕹 Actionable integrations for real-time load management

Beyond data collection, car APIs also power event-based action. Utilities can see a vehicle’s state of charge and automate active load management by remotely starting and stopping charging. This helps curtail use during peak hours or shift use to hours with more renewable energy generation. Optiwatt, an EV charging mobile app, uses this API functionality to give customers a “set it and forget it” charging schedule that automatically kicks in when energy is less in-demand and costs are lower.

How APIs boost the efficiency of managed charging programs

An exceptional customer experience ensures the success of any new consumer-facing utility program — and the flexibility of APIs helps programs get there. According to SEPA’s State of Managed Charging in 2021 report, utilities are motivated to roll out managed charging for three primary reasons:

⚡ Help customers manage electricity use

💸 Avoid higher cost periods of energy supply

🤝 Increase customer engagement

Primary motivations for utilities to build managed charging programs
Source: SEPA State of Managed Charging in 2021

 

The report highlights Silicon Valley’s GridShift program, which defines customer engagement and savings as key program success factors. In this program, APIs were used to verify customers’ utility information and automate emission reduction. With a hardware-agnostic approach, GridShift was able to reduce program drop-outs while maximizing enrollment across different groups of customers.

One of GridShift’s program partners is WattTime, which uses its APIs to conduct marginal grid emissions forecasts. "Some have wondered if transitioning to EVs could actually have a negative impact on the climate, since much of our power supply in the U.S. still comes from fossil fuels," says Christy Lewis, Director of Analysis at WattTime. "The good news is, our analysis shows driving an EV instead of a gas-powered car today helps lower emissions on any grid in the country, but there is also a massive opportunity to improve on those emissions savings."

WattTime helps partners in the EV industry roll out emissions-optimized smart charging with built-in intelligence that provides insight into how clean electricity is during use. "This means, not only can we make the EV transition happen, we can also make sure it's a transition that helps us reach our climate goals faster," Lewis tells us.

You can hear more on how APIs work together to optimize cleaner EV charging in Smartcar’s joint webinar with WattTime.

 


There are absolutely the business-specific sensitivities around sharing information, but there is a sense that the rising tide raises all ships, and if you can get it right, it’s going to benefit the industry as a whole.”

Stacy Noblet, VP of Electrification Transportation at ICF


 

Utilities can work with even higher efficiency gains if emission reduction automation works in tandem with real-time charging data pulled directly from EVs without dependency on EVSEs. Vehicle APIs can accelerate programs by:

📈 Increasing program participation

Smartcar’s API is compatible with over 62 EV models across 18 brands. Programs can easily introduce more drivers without having to worry about EVSE installation. Easier access to a wide range of EV data enriches load research with a holistic look at behavioral data, which helps utilities serve more participants with better program designs.

📱Simplifying customer enrollment

Vehicle telematics reduces friction in customer enrollment by omitting the installation of compatible smart charging hardware. A software-driven approach also helps participants manage and measure savings and incentives through a mobile app. This shorter onboarding and learning curve means more opportunities for utilities to focus on scaling marketing efforts and expanding customer education on the benefits of new offerings.

💡Personalizing programs at scale

Utilities and their partners can ensure long-term success with better visibility of market needs and the agility to respond to those needs with new offerings. Some territories will benefit more by providing both active and passive offerings to customers, while others may find their data more suited for one approach over the other. Regardless, APIs give programs the flexibility to scale or shift volumes and types of data as required.

How an API retrieves EV charging data

Each vehicle brand has its own unique API, each with its own set of endpoints and responses. Third-party developers who want to integrate with multiple vehicle brands themselves often work with fragmented APIs that need to be built and managed individually. This requires a significant, long-term investment, in cost and in-house bandwidth for API maintenance and improvement as programs scale or grow in complexity.

A universal platform for EV APIs is a centralized set of software intermediaries that allow applications and vehicle brands to talk to each other. Here’s how Smartcar’s API helps utilities communicate with EVs.

Step 1: Standardization

Smartcar’s platform does the heavy lifting of standardizing the APIs of 24 (and counting!) brands so developers get work with consistent error codes, SDKs, documentation, and data quality validation. For more granular data on select brands, we also provide an extended list of brand-specific endpoints.

 


Smartcar gives us the peace of mind that a team of developers is working to maintain our access to EVs. This allows us to focus on our true value-add — effectively integrating EVs into the electric grid.

— Scott Dimetrosky, CEO and co-founder of Rolling Energy Resources


 

Step 2: Authorization

All requests made to Smartcar require an access token. The access token gives apps a secure way to make the API request, authorize connectivity to a vehicle, and then interact with that vehicle. Token management is another area that apps don’t have to worry about as it’s built into our API offerings.

Step 3: Authentication

Before vehicle owners begin sharing data, they’re brought through our OAuth2 authentication flow, Smartcar Connect.

Smartcar Connect is the only touchpoint a vehicle owner has with Smartcar, but it’s an incredibly important one. A customer may drop off a managed charging program’s onboarding process if they are unsure about their vehicle’s connectivity, are concerned about data privacy, or if onboarding instructions are difficult to understand.  Our flow was designed to mitigate this with three simple steps: select a car brand, sign in to a connected services account, and provide consent to shared data.

Step 4: Collection

A vehicle owner only needs to sign in once and they’re good to go!

Apps can automate data retrieval at regular intervals through our event webhooks, giving utilities and program participants peace of mind to optimize charging with less manual work.

To build or to buy?

A successful hardware-agnostic managed charging program has many moving parts — but tackling these complexities as a joint effort has the potential to yield higher returns. Utilities have the option to work with existing solution partners instead of building new data collection infrastructure from the ground up.

If your business is a utility or utility partner looking to integrate directly with EVs, consider the following factors when deciding to build or buy vehicle APIs.

Build vs. Buy?

Time: Will a 12-month delay in your program roadmap leave little to no impact on customer enrollment and long-term utility territory goals?

Team: Can you split your current headcount to tackle core program deliverables and API maintenance efforts?

Privacy: Do you have the compliance and secure workflows for authorizing and managing consumer data?

Program: Will you be shifting or expanding program offerings in the future, and will it require more EV brands and data points?

If you answered “no” to all these questions, then you’ll likely benefit from a connected car developer platform.

Access our whitepaper to learn more about Smartcar’s solutions for managed charging and a complete list of endpoints and benefits🔋

 


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar.

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What’s new in Smartcar’s upgraded Tesla integration

Winona Rajamohan

3 min read

December 21, 2023
Product
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We’re excited to announce that our upgraded Tesla integration is now available to all Smartcar customers!

We recently announced that we’re rolling out a new Tesla integration as the brand transitions away from its legacy API for third-party developers. Since then, our team has been building an improved integration experience that simplifies the migration process for mobility businesses and upholds data transparency for all consumers connecting to third-party applications.

What’s changed?

Tesla requires all third-party developers to migrate to their new API architecture by January 2024. We’ve introduced the following changes to facilitate a smooth transition during this timeframe, minimizing any interruptions to mobility businesses and vehicle owners. All information and FAQs about the new Tesla integration are available in our Help Center.

Tesla-specific Smartcar Connect

Starting December 21, 2023, Tesla owners connecting to your application will authorize their vehicle with a new version of Smartcar Connect. This flow will not require any code changes on your end.

We’ve made minimal changes to the existing Smartcar Connect flow, with the only visible difference being the addition of a new screen. We’ve maintained a clean, straightforward user experience that does not disrupt or prolong the onboarding process.

Our goal with this new Connect flow is to allow vehicle owners to securely authorize their vehicle with Tesla and ensure that an application obtains only specific vehicle permissions via the Smartcar API.

Here’s what that looks like:

1️⃣ Vehicle owners launch Smartcar Connect and select their vehicle brand as per usual. After selecting ‘Tesla,’ they will be prompted to sign in with their Tesla account.

2️⃣ Vehicle owners will sign in to their Tesla account and authorize Tesla to share information with an application via Smartcar. Vehicle owners can then select from a few data categories specified by Tesla.

3️⃣ Vehicle owners return to the final screen of the Smartcar Connect flow. On this screen, they will see a list of exact data permissions they will share with an application. Once they click ‘Allow,’ they’re ready to go!

Virtual keys for command access

In addition to permissions from their authorization flow, Tesla now requires virtual keys for third-party applications to start issuing commands to all Model 3 and Y vehicles, and 2021+ Model S and X vehicles. You can learn more about how to set up your virtual keys.

An endpoint to help you manage your migration

Smartcar is committed to helping mobility businesses migrate to Tesla’s new architecture as seamlessly as possible. Vehicle owners must go through the Tesla-specific Connect flow mentioned above for applications to retain data access.

To streamline the process of tracking the status of your migration, we’ve introduced a brand-specific endpoint for Tesla called Migration Status. With this endpoint, developers can see what vehicles still need to be migrated to Tesla’s new API.

Customized branding for Enterprise customers

Enterprise customers will have the option to implement a Smartcar Connect flow that uses their own brand on the Tesla login screen. We’ve introduced this feature because by default, Smartcar will host a Smartcar-specific virtual key that prompts vehicle owners to authorize an application with Tesla using the Smartcar brand.

However, we want to give businesses the added value of customizing branding on these onboarding screens. This is especially beneficial for customers launching the Connect flow on behalf of client accounts — such as DERMS providers implementing a managed charging program for specific utilities.

This customizable Smartcar Connect flow will require minor code changes documented here, and will be made available to Enterprise customers starting December 21, 2023.

The Smartcar difference: Why use Smartcar to integrate with Tesla?

Building your own integration with Tesla’s new API still leaves many limitations.

You must still dedicate extensive engineering resources to build a complete product with a secure user authentication system and back-end infrastructure for managing, testing, and maintaining vehicle connections. You’ll also be required to repeat this process for every vehicle brand you want to support.

Smartcar gives mobility businesses the benefits of Tesla integration, which also includes:

  • A powerful developer experience with eight SDKs for mobile and web, a developer dashboard, team collaboration, a vehicle simulator, and more.
  • An API that is compatible with 38 additional vehicle brands across North America and Europe
  • Data privacy and security measures such as annual penetration testing, SOC 2 Type 2 and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance, and a Vulnerability Disclosure Program (VDP).
  • A single source for developer-facing support for all brands across North America and Europe with guaranteed response times.

A powerful integration to help you build better products, faster

Smartcar is proud to maintain the industry standard for connected car integrations as automakers actively acknowledge and embrace the contributions of third-party developers.

With this new and improved Tesla integration, we’re excited to help you grow your application with streamlined developer tools and enhanced data transparency. Build trust with your customers and strengthen your application’s reliability with an API that allows your team to focus on what they do best.

Existing customers can read our docs for more in-depth information and continue working with our customer support representatives to address any questions throughout the migration process. If you want to learn more about the Smartcar API and Tesla integration, book a meeting with our team!

Revolutionizing automotive service with Smartcar telematics

Erica Bickel

2 min read

December 13, 2023
Maintenance
Live SiteStaging Site

As prices for both new and used vehicles continue to skyrocket, S&P Global reports that the average age of a car on the road in the U.S. has reached 12.5 years, a new record. Although this figure is startling, this presents lucrative opportunities for auto dealerships, national franchise chains, and mom-and-pop repair shops — in the form of costly services, general maintenance, and significant upsells. According to research conducted by NPD Group, owners of older cars frequently expect to pay over $1,000 at the repair shop, and tend to gravitate toward more expensive purchases like replacing air filters, changing spark plugs, and using premium products.

But outside of solely tapping into one’s current customer base or using mass-marketing techniques, how can auto shops ensure each message is sent to the right person, at the right time? Better yet, how can they keep previous customers coming back?

By utilizing vehicle telematics, shop owners can create personalized services based on predictive maintenance, enticing consumers to their locations repeatedly with special deals and appointment reminders. Instead of hosting nationwide sales or discounts, telematics allows for targeted and effective promotions, and therefore, higher chances of bookings. With older cars increasing in popularity for the sixth year in a row, there’s never been a greater time to rethink your lead generation strategy.

Auto dealerships: service more vehicles

After having a customer opt-in to a loyalty program via an email, text message, or mobile app, automotive dealerships open the door to servicing more vehicles. Instead of blindly performing various diagnostic tests to discover the root cause of certain issues or find additional problem areas, technicians are able to see a more accurate view of the vehicle before it even enters the shop. Telematics data streamlines daily service by taking some of the guesswork out of car repairs, making customers happy with faster appointments and fewer costs. Likewise, shops may boost revenue by optimizing scheduling and fitting more customers and cars in per day.

Repair chains and franchises: improve the customer experience

While national chains and regional franchises already have brand recognizability and likely, extensive vehicle information, telematics grant space for more refined messaging. Using real-time vehicle data to tailor emails, flyers, and text messages to individual customers enhances engagement, and decreases the likelihood of looking elsewhere for service. For example, after receiving an alert that a customer’s oil is low, repair chains can send this individual a coupon and reminder to schedule an appointment. Rather than an impersonal email blast or TV commercial, these customized memos have a much higher conversion rate, and fewer costs.

Small businesses: grow and reach new audiences

For small businesses, telematics level the playing field against national competition and OEM dealerships. Increasing advertising spend in an intentional way through 1:1 messaging not only upsells current customers, but garners loyalty through better, tailored service. With exact figures on tire tread, odometer reading, or even EV battery life, mechanics can make educated, quick decisions on the best course of action for each vehicle. This improved customer experience brings greater positive word-of-mouth referrals, growing your business and reaching new prospects.

Reach new levels of precision with Smartcar

Many of these use cases can be used interchangeably, no matter the size of the repair shop. Regardless, the democratization of access to crucial vehicle data ensures that businesses of all sizes can compete effectively in the dynamic automotive market. By using Smartcar, customers may be targeted with precision and care, increasing the chances of conversions and bookings alike. As the automotive industry continues to evolve, embracing innovative solutions is not just an option — it's a necessity for those who strive to stay ahead in this competitive arena.

Driving forward with confidence: Smartcar's Vulnerability Disclosure Program puts you in control!

Erica Bickel

2 min read

December 4, 2023
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

Our 2023 State of Connected Car Apps Report identified greater vehicle data privacy and consumer safety as key elements of growth for the mobility industry in the coming years. As part of Smartcar’s commitment to these efforts, we’ve established a comprehensive VDP, which ensures a proactive approach to finding and eliminating evolving security threats. Under this collaborative system, we aim to lead the charge in automotive data safety.

Smartcar’s Vulnerability Disclosure Program

VDPs, or Vulnerability Disclosure Programs, help companies identify flaws and vulnerabilities in their security systems before hackers exploit them. To do so, organizations invite so-called “ethical hackers” to test and simulate a cyber attack should one occur. These actions allow for proactive efforts to manage and continually update our computer networks and cyber defenses.

Smartcar details the in-scope target endpoints open for testing to provide ethical hackers and security researchers a framework to start with. Our submission form asks for the technical severity, vulnerability details, and express documentation of discovered “bugs,” as this helps Smartcar best triage and assign priority to discovered issues. If you think you’ve found a flaw in our security system, we invite you to report it here.

Our other on-hand security measures

Smartcar Connect is our user onboarding flow where user consent is collected in compliance with the OAuth2 authorization protocol and is SSL encrypted. Vehicle owners can review specific permissions requested by an app before providing consent for sharing access to those specific data points or actions. Smartcar’s End User Privacy Policy is embedded within the flow to ensure users know how their information is handled. Additionally, Smartcar allows customers to hyperlink their privacy policy into the flow as well.

Smartcar runs on industry-standard cloud infrastructure that establishes security best practices to prevent unauthorized access to our platform. All requests to Smartcar services must be encrypted using HTTPS, and all data stored on our platform is protected with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit encryption.

Smartcar is also compliant with Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), undergoes periodic Penetration Testing, and annually re-attests to SOC 2 Type 2 compliance. Our platform processes only the necessary data to serve our customers. With Smartcar, vehicle owners can revoke their consent at any time.

Connect with Smartcar

We encourage security researchers and our own Smartcar users to find these issues and bring them to our attention. By providing a safe medium of disclosure, we hope to encourage open, regular audits, and reiterate our commitment to data protection. To further secure and formalize these submissions, we utilize Bugcrowd, the leading crowdsourced security platform.

Visit our data security page to learn about the measures we take to ensure the safety of the Smartcar platform, or reach out to your Customer Success Manager for more information. If you’re evaluating Smartcar, you can contact our Sales team to request a copy of multiple reports as part of your vendor security and compliance process.

Smartcar and Uber partner to accelerate rideshare’s transition to electric

Winona Rajamohan

3 min read

November 29, 2023
EV charging
News
Customer story
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Smartcar is excited to announce that we’re partnering with Uber to make it easier for electric vehicle drivers to take on trips without any range anxiety.

With Smartcar’s connected car platform, eligible EV drivers on Uber can ensure that they’re only assigned rides within their remaining battery range. This feature aims to create a comfortable and convenient experience for both drivers and riders using EVs on the Uber app. At launch, the feature will be available to drivers of select makes and models, with plans to expand.

Making EVs rideshare-friendly

This feature is essential in promoting driver and rider satisfaction as Uber aims to transition all drivers to zero-emission vehicles.

A survey of drivers using the Uber platform found charging anxiety was a key barrier to drivers choosing to lease or purchase an electric vehicle. Range anxiety could prompt drivers not to accept otherwise attractive trips, or prompt them to charge more often than needed. This led Uber’s teams to develop a Battery-Aware Matching feature in the Driver app, which Smartcar’s connected car platform is helping power, to help make charging seamless — not stressful.

“We’re excited about the early feedback from drivers,” said Michael Alexander, Uber’s Head of Sustainability Product. “Drivers who’ve used Battery-Aware Matching during initial testing tell us they’re less likely to run out of battery and less likely to cancel rides because they’re too long.”

Meanwhile, 40% of U.S. Uber users who ride in an EV say it's their first time in one, further strengthening the platform's position as a key influencer of transportation decarbonization. A frustrating experience on an EV trip could deter these passengers from choosing greener ride options in the future.

Automatic EV range checks, better ride-matching

With Smartcar, Uber can access an EV's battery level without any aftermarket hardware, such as OBD-II dongles. The app can automatically get instant visibility into an EV’s estimated remaining range and filter out trips that exceed this distance.

Smartcar and Uber are both committed to protecting the privacy of drivers and vehicle data. To access this feature, drivers must first enable the option to share their vehicle data with Uber within the Uber app.

Drivers only need to connect their cars once to access this feature for all future rides. They can then smoothly connect their car in just a few clicks via Smartcar's onboarding flow. This onboarding flow, Smartcar Connect, ensures drivers only share necessary data permissions with Uber.

“Electric vehicles are the future of ride-sharing, and we are proud to partner with Uber to help make this transition a reality. This collaboration will play a key role in making it easier for Uber drivers to make the switch to an electric vehicle without having to worry about range anxiety,” says Sahas Katta, CEO and Co-founder at Smartcar.

Building a future of zero-emission ridesharing

This partnership is a step toward making EV transportation more accessible and convenient for everyone.

Uber aims to be a zero-emission platform in US and Canadian cities by 2030, aiming to be completely carbon-free by 2040 globally. Helping drivers go electric is at the heart of Uber’s strategy, and the company is devoting $800 million in resources to support drivers in making the switch. The platform has launched efforts to remove barriers in the transition from gas-powered vehicles to EVs — including driver savings for fast charging networks and at-home EV charging solutions, as well as discounts and offers to help make accessing an EV easier.

With Smartcar-powered visibility into EV battery ranges, Uber can continue to support drivers with tools and resources that enhance the EV driver experience on the platform. The aim is that this new feature will help to reduce range anxiety for EV drivers and make the platform more attractive to riders who are looking for sustainable transportation options.

Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar or Uber.

Personalizing EV charging experiences: How EV charging APIs drive customer satisfaction

Winona Rajamohan

9 min read

November 27, 2023
EV charging
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Why do EV charging networks need telematic-based EV charging APIs in efforts to make EV ownership sustainable, accessible, and convenient? The list of misconceptions surrounding electric vehicles and EV charging grows longer every day. One of my favorite reads recently has been Carbon Brief’s comprehensive fact-check of 21 myths surrounding EVs, from EVs being inherently ‘dirtier’ than gas-powered vehicles to our electric grid being on the brink of failure due to EV charging loads.

It’s safe to say that many of these myths serve as good fodder for frustrated consumers who are unhappy about factors like the cost of EVs, charging accessibility, electricity rates, and range anxiety. Electric vehicles are on a long, tumultuous journey to unravel economic norms, infrastructure, and the emotional appeal of vehicles that we’ve been accustomed to for the better part of the last century. It’s only natural for gaps in the consumer experience to emerge — and as an EV charging network provider, it’s only natural to want to build a product that customers really need.

The abundance of data generated by electric vehicles themselves holds immense power — when used correctly. It helps us better understand the impacts of EV adoption and from there, develop purpose-driven EV solutions that can make tangible improvements to overall charging infrastructure.

Sitting at the intersection of energy, mobility, and technology, EV charging APIs give charging operators the flexibility to build new infrastructure rooted in software interoperability and democratized access to vehicle information.

By accessing charging data from vehicles, businesses can build solutions that focus on the needs of a specific vehicle or driver — from their location to their battery health, charging preferences, budget, and more. In this blog, we explore the capabilities, applications, and features of EV charging APIs shaping the future of electric mobility.

What is an EV charging API?

EV businesses use an EV charging API to access accurate and up-to-date charging data from electric vehicles. This data includes information about EV battery levels and the charging status of a vehicle.

With EV APIs, apps and services for electric vehicles can retrieve this data purely through the EV’s embedded telematics modem. Drivers do not have to plug their EV into a home charger or public charging station for an application or service to start collecting data about their charging session. EV owners also don’t require any plug-in aftermarket hardware like OBD-II dongles.

Why use an EV charging API instead of collecting data from EV charging hardware?

The decision to use an EV charging API or EV charger API ultimately depends on the type of electric vehicle solution you’re building.

An integration with an EV charger makes sense if you need granular information about the charger itself instead of the vehicle.  An EV charger API connects your app to EV chargers and charging networks.  You can use an EV charger API to get information about the EV charger — like its brand, model, location, and charge rate

On the other hand, an EV charging API like Smartcar gives charging networks visibility into how drivers charge their electric vehicles. For example, charging apps can surface alerts and tailor recommendations for charging sessions by analyzing utility rates, EV charging patterns, and driver behavior.

What solutions can you build with an EV charging API?

The challenges of accessing granular vehicle data coupled with the lack of transparency when collecting data from vehicle owners have contributed to some distrust in EV applications as a whole. We can’t overcome fragmentation in the EV charging ecosystem simply by giving drivers features and data that don’t add value to their day-to-day travel.

Case in point: Our 2023 State of Connected Car Apps report found that 74% are unsatisfied with their automaker’s built-in connected services functionality.

EV charging operators must move away from the idea that more data is inherently better. Instead, focus on using the right data to give EV drivers the level of personalization, convenience, and safety they need as they travel from one place to another.


The emergence of EV charging API platforms like Smartcar stems from the belief that applications for vehicle owners must be built with vehicle owners in mind — which is a seemingly straightforward but difficult task without permission to get vehicle data directly from consumers. Smartcar’s software-based integrations allow EV businesses to build purpose-driven solutions, such as apps for:

⚡️ Smart charging

EV owners use apps like Optiwatt to optimize and schedule their EV charging sessions according to factors like electricity rates, the carbon intensity of the grid, or specific hours of the day. An EV charging API helps drivers adopt a set-it-and-forget-it approach to charging, allowing EV chargers to automatically start or stop charging according to a driver’s configured preferences. These APIs also give businesses up-to-date visibility of EV charging behavior to predict grid demand and proactively shift charging to prevent blackouts.

🗺️ EV route planning

Although 80% of EV charging occurs at home, range anxiety remains a prevalent concern of EV owners when they’re out and about and dependent on public EV charging infrastructure. EV charging APIs give solution providers an exciting avenue to utilize live battery data to help users personalize their EV charging experience depending on where they are, their remaining battery levels, when they would like to start charging, and more.

On top of using telematics data to use a car’s location to look for nearby EV chargers, apps like Carge use Smartcar’s EV charging API to elevate the EV charging experience with capabilities like setting a time to stop charging, reserving charging stations proactively when the remaining battery drops below a certain level, and monitoring battery levels when they’re away from their car.

📍Mobile EV charging

Beyond locating and reserving EV chargers, mobile EV charging stations also improve the accessibility of public EV charging stations. Solutions like CAFU provide on-demand EV charging in residential neighborhoods, public parking lots, and community events or gatherings. An EV charging API allows drivers to make quick bookings for charging sessions based on an EV’s approximate location and the amount of energy required to charge the battery. This makes ordering a charge for your EV as simple as hailing an Uber. Mobile charging services are an example of the emerging Energy-as-a-service use case, which unlocks wider distribution of renewable energy while keeping infrastructure costs low in metropolitan areas and creating reliability for EV drivers.

🚙 EV ride-sharing

With 40% of ridesharing passengers stating that they’ve traveled with an EV for the first time through app bookings, there’s now significant value in ensuring the reliability and convenience of EV rideshare. An EV that runs low on range in the middle of a trip is the last thing any passenger wants, especially if they’re on the go or rushing to an appointment. EV charging APIs allow ridesharing businesses to gain visibility into the remaining range of their EV drivers so they can assign trips that do not exceed that range. It also opens up doors to partner with EV charging operators to plan routes, provide charging incentives, and optimize charging times.

Features to look for in an EV charging API

An EV charging API helps developers build EV charging solutions that integrate directly with an electric vehicle.

For example, Smartcar’s EV charging API allows drivers to securely opt in to their utility’s managed charging program or schedule their charging sessions during hours when electricity rates are lower or the grid is more carbon-efficient.

To do this, an EV charging API gives businesses the following endpoints:

  • Battery level: Returns an EV’s state of charge and the battery’s remaining range so businesses can accurately estimate EV charging times and surface solutions for scheduling charging, locating nearby chargers, and more.
  • Battery capacity: Retrieve the total capacity from an electric vehicle’s battery to better predict EV charging loads, charging times, and the cost of each charging session.
  • Charge status: Shows charging networks and utilities if an electric vehicle is currently plugged in and charging, making it easier to identify available EV chargers or charging sessions that must be stopped to manage grid loads.
  • Charge limit: Get and set the charge limit of an electric vehicle to optimize charging sessions for EV owners based on the time of day and real-time grid load.
  • Start and stop charge: Proactively start or stop EV charging sessions based on customer preferences, an EV’s current state of charge, available range, or demand on the grid.

There were over 40 models of electric cars, trucks, and SUVs on sale in 2023 — more variety than ever before. It’s important to note that each brand and model has its own proprietary API and data points. For example, Smartcar’s brand-specific endpoints for Tesla vehicles look different from those of BMW and MINI vehicles because of how unique these endpoints are to each brand.  

With that being said, EV data alone isn’t enough for businesses to build actionable solutions that can keep up with the number of EV makes and models emerging popping into the market.

Smartcar’s platform allows EV charging networks, DERMS software, and EV service providers to integrate an EV charging API into their solution effectively with developer-friendly tools. This means having features such as:

Brand coverage

A platform that supports API integrations across different EV makes and models so internal developers aren’t spending all their time standardizing data for each brand and monitoring sudden changes made to endpoints and credentials for each automaker API. EV charging apps like Carge, Optiwatt, and Flexcharging use Smartcar’s EV charging API because it allows them to retrieve EV charging data from over 100 EV models using a single integration.

Status and alerts

Smartcar’s EV charging API platform gives businesses access to scheduled and event-based webhooks that allow the API to send a message or retrieve data based on a specified trigger. With EV charging apps and services aiming to give consumers up-to-date information, like the progress of their charging sessions, nearby charging stations, and the cost of charging their vehicle, real-time alerts play an important role. With Smartcar’s webhooks, EV businesses can send notifications based on a set schedule or after specific actions, like when a vehicle starts charging, stops charging, or completes a charging session.

Proactive actions

In use cases like smart charging and demand response, EV charging APIs must allow businesses to trigger actions in addition to retrieving live data. Smartcar’s API unlocks the benefits of standardized connected car integrations while giving EV solutions the ability to proactively start and stop charging sessions and set the charging limit for an electric vehicle.

User consent and authorization

We learned that 41% of drivers want complete visibility into the data points requested by a vehicle app before they authorize it for use. But secure user authorization flows and API tokens management processes aren’t readily available when you integrate with an automaker’s API. This is handled when developers integrate with Smartcar’s API, allowing teams to focus on building core products instead of creating new UI, databases, token routes, and refresh routes for user authorization.

Smartcar's 2023 State of Connected Car Apps

Security and Compliance

EV integrations involve sensitive data on how people travel and manage personal or shared vehicles. When integrated into broader transportation and energy infrastructure, it becomes even more critical for businesses to strengthen their integrations with industry-grade security compliance protocols that standardize data management practices, prevent system vulnerabilities, and respect consumers' rights over their own data.  

Securing your backend infrastructure with SOC 2 Type 2 compliance, GDPR compliance, annual penetration testing, and consistent network monitoring can easily cost you tens of thousands of dollars. At Smartcar, we believe that these security standards must go hand-in-hand with any implementation of connected car APIs. Integrating with our platform gives you these security features so you don’t put your business and end users at risk.

🧰 Searching for the right EV API vendor?

Check out our connected car API evaluation checklist. It's completely free. No email required.

👉 Read now

What’s next? Getting started with an EV charging API

The future of EV charging applications is full of opportunity.

Whether it’s accommodating specific driver preferences, local transportation needs, or interoperability with supporting mobility initiatives like energy distribution, shared mobility, and vehicle maintenance — there are still many unsolved problems in the reality of EV charging across different communities.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and that’s where the agility of standardized, open APIs will prove most valuable.


"From my experience with hundreds of EV owners, it seems that they naturally are receptive to new ways of tweaking their experience for the better. Because that's essentially what buying an EV has been until recently - tweaking your car ownership for the better. I believe that's also why third-party apps gain traction. Some apps save you the hassle, and some are just making it all better."

— Jaan Jurikas, creator of the EV Universe newsletter, in our State of Connected Car Apps report.


If you’re looking to scale an EV charging application that puts drivers first, here are a few helpful resources to better understand Smartcar’s API:

Treads transforms app-based car maintenance with Smartcar's API

Winona Rajamohan

4 min read

November 15, 2023
Customer story
Maintenance
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Treads uses Smartcar’s car API to help drivers better manage vehicle tire and maintenance costs, unlock predictive maintenance, and access on-demand vehicle management into one hardware-free solution.

At a glance

🚧 Problem: Treads wanted to deliver precise vehicle maintenance alerts through their app without requiring drivers to install aftermarket hardware.

💡 Solution: Treads used Smartcar's API and developer-friendly SDKs to seamlessly integrate all compatible connected cars to their mobile app.

📈 Results: With Smartcar’s integration, Treads can power its predictive maintenance feature by monitoring crucial metrics such as tire pressure, fuel range, and more.


The Treads app makes vehicle maintenance costs predictable — which is helpful considering how unexpected repairs can cost anywhere from $10 for a flat tire to $5000 for a transmission issue.

It bundles vehicle management services like tires, alignments, oil changes, wiper blade replacements, and even an auto insurance marketplace are bundled into a single application that drivers access with a monthly subscription fee.


Through our collaboration with Smartcar, Treads is advancing its vision of transforming how drivers interact with their vehicles. With the Treads app, drivers can now access their vehicle's vital information right from the palm of their hands.

— Zach Olson, founder and CEO at Treads


The rising costs of vehicle maintenance

A study by AAA found that one in three drivers in the United States cannot pay for an unexpected car bill. AAA urged vehicle owners to save at least $50 a month for these expenses to prevent future payment difficulties.

The Treads monthly subscription model uses this same approach to smooth out vehicle maintenance expenses while streamlining the process of scheduling services on demand right from the Treads app.

How does this app-based experience make a difference compared to buying these services from individual retailers?

👉 Drivers simply download the Treads app, connect all their vehicles, and select a subscription plan where they pay a simple monthly fee.

👉 Gives drivers digitized predictive maintenance and scheduling alerts to stay on top of routine vehicle checks instead and avoid expensive problems that build up over time.

👉 Allows intuitive scheduling by choosing mobile servicing or local auto shop locations based on which service option saves you the most time.

“Treads is designed for the everyday driver that may not know as much about their car or don’t really want to either,” says Zach Olson, founder and CEO at Treads.

Its users are the ones who don’t have the time to worry about servicing vehicles — whether it’s to eliminate hours at tire shops helping their kids get their tires changed or to get on-demand service if a driver is on the go all day doing rideshare and deliveries.

How Treads evaluated Smartcar as their EV API platform

✅ Reliability of the platform

Reliability and uptime are necessary for Treads to provide precise service notifications for customers. Smartcar's wide collection of standardized API endpoints allows Treads to easily retrieve vehicle data at regular intervals.

🧰 Ease of implementation

Treads was able to work efficiently with their existing developer resources using Smartcar's SDKs, standardized integrations, enterprise-grade security, and a pre-built consent-based OAuth2.0 flow. The ease of implementing Smartcar’s SDK into the Treads mobile app made working with Smartcar a no-brainer.

😍 Ease of use for drivers

Smartcar’s solution requires no additional hardware, making it easy for Treads users to connect their car to the app and receive timely alerts.

Why Treads decided to use Smartcar

From tires to oil changes, 24/7 roadside assistance, and predictive maintenance, Treads has a range of services that are only reliable with precise, up-to-date vehicle data.

The app used Bluetooth technology, GPS data, and smartphone telematics to get the right information from vehicles connected to the app. This technology is a good solution for older vehicles but is antiquated compared to a direct connection to connected vehicles.

For example, accidentally disconnecting your Bluetooth can compromise data accuracy or stop data collection from happening at all.

Treads realized that individual drivers don’t have access to tools that can help them maximize their own vehicle data without it being inconvenient or expensive.

“We recognized the need to pioneer a movement, enabling consumers to tap into their vehicle data in the same empowered way that commercial fleets do,"  Zach says.

With Smartcar’s API, Treads can democratize car data for its users without the burden of having them install additional hardware and learn how to use it properly.

How the integration with Smartcar works

The vehicle owner onboarding process via Smartcar’s user authorization flow is simple. Once drivers sign up for Treads, they can connect their car in a few quick steps:

  1. Select their car brand and sign in to their connected services account
  2. Review the data permissions requested by Treads
  3. Consent to sharing those specific data points

Implementing software-based integrations across all the vehicles connected to their app is a lot of work. Smartcar’s documentation and developer resources allowed the Treads team to move quickly and transform their data infrastructure in a matter of weeks.


Without a platform like Smartcar, we would have to piecemeal data from different APIs and sources, and it would be super laborious — it’s enough work for a whole separate company and unrealistic for an early stage one.

— Zach Olson, founder and CEO at Treads


Treads uses Smartcar’s API to automatically retrieve accurate data at set intervals, including tire pressure, odometer readings, fuel levels, EV battery levels, and engine oil levels.

This direct access to a vehicle’s telematics modem allows the app to monitor specific data points closely without compromising driver privacy.

A new budget-friendly way to maintain your vehicle

We’re excited to play a role in Tread’s vision of making vehicle maintenance a topic that isn’t stressful or intimidating for everyday drivers — whether they’re new to vehicle ownership or clocking in lots of mileage daily.

Download the Treads app on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store to try it out!

Driving data privacy: How Smartcar navigates GDPR compliance

Erica Bickel

3 min read

November 14, 2023
Product
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Tableau reports that 63% of global online users believe companies aren’t entirely truthful when it comes to how they use customer data. In the same poll, 48% of UK-based customers stated that they had entirely stopped using a company based on privacy concerns. With data protection at the forefront of political news, safeguarding user privacy should be a top priority for businesses in the 2020s.

On May 25, 2018, the European Union signed the General Data Protection Regulation into law, requiring all businesses operating in or with the EU to create and maintain a new level of consumer privacy. Compliance with the act, even as an American company, is mandatory to continue business in the EU — and Smartcar is committed to these regulations.

What is the GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, is a law drafted by the European Union (EU) that establishes a comprehensive set of guidelines for the protection of personal data. Regarded as one of the toughest privacy and security regulations in the world, the act details requirements for companies operating in the EU, or those with customers that are European citizens or residents. Aimed at granting individuals greater control over their personal data, the GDPR levies seven transparency and accountability principles, among others, that organizations must adhere to to ensure compliance. Failure to do so results in significant fines (including up to 4% of global revenue!) and serious litigation risks from those affected.

What does the law protect against?

Compliance with seven “protection and accountability” principles is required for companies that process data in the EU. According to the European Commission, these include;

Data controllers must also prove GDPR compliance with written documentation, effective employee training, and data processing agreements with third-party agents when applicable. Except in extremely rare cases, companies cannot collect, store, or sell users’ personal data, as data subjects have extensive privacy rights — most notably, the right to erasure.

We encourage our users to read the full General Data Protection Regulation for more information.

What is Smartcar’s stance on the GDPR?

We’re happy to share that Smartcar is fully GDPR compliant. This means that we’ve successfully demonstrated accordance with GDPR’s substantial standards for data protection, privacy, and security for our customers, employees, and partners. Moving forward, all future decisions will be made “by design and by default,” or with data protection top of mind.

Under GDPR, Smartcar is considered a data processor with regard to vehicle data. This means that we process personal data on behalf of each data controller, i.e. companies or services that work with individual vehicle owners (referred to in the GDPR as “the data subject”). As always, we require consumer consent to connect, and do not collect, store, or sell personal data.

What other security measures does Smartcar have in place?

Smartcar unequivocally believes in the rights of vehicle owners to fully own and operate their personal data. In addition to GDPR compliance, we perform the following assessments.

Smartcar Connect is our user onboarding flow where user consent is collected in compliance with the OAuth2 authorization protocol and is SSL encrypted. Vehicle owners can review specific permissions requested by an app before providing consent for sharing access to those specific data points or actions. Smartcar’s End User Privacy Policy is embedded within the flow to ensure users know how their information is handled. Additionally, Smartcar allows customers to hyperlink their privacy policy into the flow as well.

Smartcar runs on industry-standard cloud infrastructure that establishes security best practices to prevent unauthorized access to our platform. All requests to Smartcar services must be encrypted using HTTPS, and all data stored on our platform is protected with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit encryption.

Smartcar also undergoes annual Penetration Testing, maintains a Vulnerability Disclosure Policy (VDP), and annually re-attests to SOC 2 Type 2 compliance. Our platform processes only the necessary data to serve our customers. With Smartcar, vehicle owners can revoke their consent at any time.

How can Smartcar help me?

Visit our data security page to learn about the measures we take to ensure the safety of the Smartcar platform, or contact your Customer Success Manager to see the full results of our various tests. If you’re evaluating Smartcar, you can contact our Sales team to request a copy of these reports as part of your vendor security and compliance process.

Why Smartcar? A buyer's guide to connected car platforms

Winona Rajamohan

5 min read

November 13, 2023
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

If you're reading this, then you already know that today's automotive value chain is software-driven. In our 2023 State of Connected Car Apps report, we discovered that 64% of respondents preferred using third-party connected car apps instead of their car manufacturers' native connected services application. The value of a connected car platform is fundamental for mobility developers to meet consumer needs and fill in gaps in the vehicle ownership experience.

Mobility developers are often blocked by challenges unrelated to the apps and services they’re building. What’s the bottleneck? Integrating with connected cars.

To build connected car integrations themselves, mobility businesses must make big investments in developer expertise, continuous network monitoring, and ongoing support for vehicle owners.

With Smartcar's connected car API, you can use a single API to integrate with a continuously growing list of vehicle makes and models. This allows you to work with a standardized API for all our compatible vehicles, comprehensive SDKs, pre-built user experience elements, enterprise-grade security, and a team of dedicated experts to monitor integration performance and address errors or latencies.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of choosing a connected car platform and how you can evaluate whether Smartcar is the right choice for you. We’ll help you answer:

  1. When is the right time to invest in a connected car platform?
  2. What questions should you ask when evaluating a connected car API provider?
  3. How is Smartcar’s API used today in different mobility sectors?

🛍️ Deciding between building or buying connected car API integrations?

Make the right call by understanding requirements and roadblocks when building and maintaining connected car integrations.

👉 Read our Build vs Buy Guide

But first, what is Smartcar's connected car platform?

Smartcar's connected vehicle API allows mobility developers to integrate with connected cars across 36 brands in North America, Europe, and Canada using vehicle telematics. With our API, developers can access crucial vehicle data and actions — like electric vehicle charging information, digital car keys, and mileage retrievals — with user consent.

But integrations themselves aren't enough to help mobility developers build high-quality apps. A connected vehicle platform empowers developers with tools that streamline and simplify the entire process of managing vehicle connections to an app.

From app testing to error management and driver onboarding, our customers rely on our platform because we're experts at everything related to connected cars. This allows them to focus on their job, leading transformation in industries like electric vehicle charging networks, clean energy, predictive maintenance, auto insurance, shared mobility, and more.

When is the right time to invest in a connected vehicle platform?

If you’re planning to build connected car integrations, keep in mind the following:

Your product

🔎 Is the development time you'll spend on building vehicle integrations better spent on your core product?

If the answer is no: Work with an API provider who can afford to lose sleep over connected vehicle integrations. Battery analytics software, Recurrent, took this approach to increase speed-to-market by 6 to 12 months.

Automotive manufacturers make at least two updates to their APIs a month. If your business is looking to onboard drivers across ten vehicle brands, that means your developers would be making roughly 20 API updates a month on top of developing new features. That number grows even larger if you consider the variability of integrations by region. You’ll require dedicated API resources to keep up with this matrix of potential error combinations across makes and models.

Your customers

🔎 Are you capable of building secure authentication systems for all vehicle owners?  

If the answer is no: Outsource API data security management to a partner with extensive experience building infrastructure that lowers the attack surface of your software.

Drivers are weary of sharing sensitive information. A class-action lawsuit was filed against a vehicle data broker in 2022 for allegedly collecting and selling their customers' connected car data without consent.

Building and securing an end-user authentication system is critical to gaining your customers' trust and proving your application's credibility. This means allocating resources toward efforts that include — but are not limited to — creating permission management systems for vehicle manufacturers' API tokens, developing the UI for authentication routes, and undergoing external penetration testing and security audits.

At Smartcar, consumer privacy and data security come first. We strengthen our platform with robust security measures, like:

Your growth targets

🔎 Do you currently have the time, headcount, and budget to build connected vehicle APIs that cover your desired customer base?  

If the answer is no: You can work with a connected car platform that’s already equipped with the integration coverage you need. EV managed charging platform, FlexCharging, took this approach to save years' worth of engineering resources.

A single connected vehicle integration takes the dedicated attention of a few engineers, not to mention the additional work of creating documentation and maintaining the integrations each month. But it’s rare for mobility apps to reach their goals by only integrating with a single vehicle brand.

If one integration takes tens of thousands of dollars upfront to build and the same amount recurring monthly for maintenance, ultimately, your integration ecosystem will become more complex and expensive as your business scales.

How to evaluate a connected vehicle API provider

Every connected car platform has unique features. To make the right choice, you need to evaluate potential vendors using the following criteria as a guide:

What elevates your product?

  • Solutions architecture
  • Vehicle brand coverage
  • Data quality

What helps you convince customers?

  • User authentication
  • Consent management
  • Security and compliance

What supports your business growth?

  • Documentation and SDKs
  • Customer support
  • API dashboards

Use this vendor selection checklist to help evaluate your next API partner 👇

Looking for your next connected car API? Here are some questions to bring to the table:

  1. What does the vendor provide that my team can’t already do?
  2. Does the vendor have comprehensive API documentation and SDKs in the languages I need?
  3. Does my team have to put in engineering efforts whenever a new, compatible vehicle brand is added?
  4. Will my team need to manage any communication with OEMs?
  5. How is driver information authenticated and brought to the application?
  6. What happens if drivers do not have a connected services account?
  7. How is information processed and stored by the vendor after API requests are made?
  8. What kind of implementation support is provided by the vendor?
  9. Does the vendor support ongoing API and error management?
  10. Are there reference customers available in the same vertical as my business?
  11. What does the vendor’s roadmap look like?
  12. Does the vendor have a public status page?
  13. What are the vendor's security and privacy practices? SOC 2, GDPR, data privacy practices, etc.

👋 Let's discuss these questions and talk about what a connected car API platform would look like for your business — book a demo with Smartcar today.

How to use Smartcar to remotely read an electric vehicle’s state of charge

Erica Bickel

3 min read

November 7, 2023
EV charging
Energy
Product
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EV sales are rising worldwide, now encompassing 8.6% of all new vehicle sales in the United States. In Smartcar’s home state of California, this number is even more impressive — comprising 16% of total “light duty” car sales in 2022 alone.

Likewise, EV chargers are becoming faster, more efficient, and smarter with every generation. While AC Level 1 chargers often take up to 40 hours to charge, Level 2 chargers (regularly placed in public spaces) are 19x faster. Better yet, Level 3 chargers are the fastest and most efficient, regularly dosing over 360 kilowatts of power. This “DC fast charging” is used for popular brands like the Tesla Supercharger, which fully charges EVs in roughly 20 minutes. While the best SOC is between 10-90%, 30-80% is widely suggested for new batteries.

But despite these advancements in charging, one challenge remains: how to read an electric vehicle’s state of charge, or level of EV charge relative to battery capacity, while unplugged and/or not charging.

Enter: Smartcar’s EV battery API. Once enabled, end users can remotely retrieve their EV’s state of charge (SOC) and remaining battery range (BEV), plus battery state for an entire fleet of customer EVs and plug-in hybrids (PHEV). Regardless of charger level, brand, or charging status, Smartcar’s EV battery API empowers EV charging apps to accurately read SOC directly from EVs anytime, anywhere.

How to retrieve an electric vehicle's SOC

Reading an EV’s SOC is simple with Smartcar. Follow the below instructions to get started:

  1. Your application launches the Smartcar Connect flow, which prompts your customer to link their electric car to your app.
  2. The vehicle owner logs in to their electric vehicle’s connected service account and grants you application permission to access the EV’s battery voltage and charging information. Your application can now make API requests to your customer’s vehicle.

Here’s how to retrieve the SOC estimation and remaining range using the Smartcar EV battery API with a Python back end:

Smartcar’s EV battery API in action

Smartcar customer, Recurrent, makes it easy to buy, sell, and drive electric vehicles. One of its most important features? Creating battery reports for electric cars to determine average performance — because when it comes time to sell, good batteries are worth more. In order to train the company’s proprietary predictive algorithm to generate its battery condition reports, Recurrent used Smartcar’s APIs to retrieve both vehicle and EV battery information from subscribers who signed up for monthly battery reports. After vehicle owners consented to just four permissions, Recurrent could then monitor each customer vehicle’s mileage, range estimates, state of charge, and charging status.

Similarly, on-demand fuel and delivery service CAFU uses Smartcar’s EV battery APIs to communicate directly with electric vehicles and prioritize orders. By receiving detailed information like battery level and battery capacity instantly, CAFU is now able to serve more customers in less time, and can scale its services to reach new markets.

The benefits of Smartcar’s EV battery API

Smartcar allows developers and their end customers to submit easy, one-time API requests for vehicle SOC and range. Compatible with 100+ EV models across 29 brands in North America and Europe, our API works on a wide range of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and PHEVs. Rather than using physical hardware to connect to EVs, Smartcar’s API technology communicates directly with the 3G or 4G modems pre-built into most electric vehicles on the market today. This ensures that the data you’re receiving is accurate and reliable in real-time.

Even if a vehicle is not near an EV charger, Smartcar allows users to know each vehicle’s exact battery SOC. Whether informing customers about their expected vehicle range pre-trip, the distance to the nearest charging station, or how long it will take to charge, vehicle owners are able to take the guesswork out of EV charging. After onboarding customers by linking vehicles to your EV charging app, one can immediately make API requests that return instant information.

If you’re interested in learning more about what Smartcar can do for your EV solution, request a demo with us.

The ins and outs of Smartcar’s annual Penetration Testing

Erica Bickel

3 min read

October 25, 2023
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

Each year, Smartcar undergoes annual Penetration Testing (pen test), designed to expose flaws in our security system and check for potential vulnerabilities that may be exploited during a cyberattack. As we advance toward our third year of testing, we’re looking forward to further strengthening our security protocols.

Today, the most popular cars on the market use some form of connected services. As 18 of the top 25 best-selling models in the US are compatible with Smartcar, we take developers using our API in conjunction with additional third-party vehicle apps and services very seriously.

Together, with our partner, Cobalt.io, we’ve made it a priority to safeguard our services against potential cybersecurity threats. Our platform adheres to the most stringent criteria to guarantee this. When any company chooses to partner with Smartcar, they’re also committing to maintaining our industry-leading levels of data protection, privacy, and security.

What Smartcar’s annual Penetration Testing means for you

The completion of our annual Penetration Testing means that Smartcar has met Cobalt.io’s extensive requirements for data security and consumer protection. As a defining part of our SOC 2 Type 2 Compliance, the pen test represents adept readiness in case of a cyber attack. The assessment invites accomplished security engineers (pen testers) to test our systems and identify issues, rated on a five-point scale, so that we may address them.

Our penetration test was done according to best practices, beginning with exhaustively scoping the Smartcar services with the testing team, documenting the surface area for testing, conducting the assessment, and remediating any findings. During the assessment, Cobalt.io put our services through a number of tests, from validating our Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol versions, to attempting to execute security exploits such as Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), SQL Injection, and missing access control issues. In order to ensure a thorough test, Cobalt.io uses the vulnerabilities cataloged in the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) Top 10 as a starting point for their team.

After the analysis, Cobalt.io found that Smartcar’s application was well-built, with a mature security posture and strong controls in place.

Other methods of consumer privacy

Apart from our pen testing compliance, we’ve enacted a range of other crucial assessments to uphold the reliability of our platform, while granting vehicle owners full authority over their shared data.

Smartcar Connect is our user onboarding flow where user consent is collected in compliance with the OAuth2 authorization protocol and is SSL encrypted. Vehicle owners can review specific permissions requested by an app before providing consent for sharing access to those specific data points or actions. Smartcar’s End User Privacy Policy is embedded within the flow to ensure users know how their information is handled. Additionally, Smartcar allows customers to hyperlink their privacy policy into the flow as well.

Smartcar runs on industry-standard cloud infrastructure that establishes security best practices to prevent unauthorized access to our platform. All requests to Smartcar services must be encrypted using HTTPS, and all data stored on our platform is protected with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit encryption.

Smartcar is also compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), maintains a Vulnerability Disclosure Policy (VDP), and annually re-attests to SOC 2 Type 2 compliance. Our platform processes only the necessary data to serve our customers. With Smartcar, vehicle owners can revoke their consent at any time.

Learn how Smartcar can help you

Visit our data security page to learn about the measures we take to ensure the safety of the Smartcar platform. Smartcar customers can also reach out to their Customer Success Manager to see the full results of our annual pen test.

If you’re evaluating Smartcar, you can contact our Sales team to request a copy of the report as part of your vendor security and compliance process as well.

Introducing Smartcar's upgraded Tesla integration

Sahas Katta

3 min read

October 19, 2023
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

In 2015, Smartcar emerged as the first company to give developers a seamless and scalable way to integrate their apps with Tesla vehicles. It’s been almost a decade since then, and we’ve become the industry standard for mobility businesses to integrate their solutions with cars of any brand while keeping data privacy top of mind. Today, we are excited to take things further and share that Smartcar is upgrading to a new integration with Tesla that reduces latency, improves reliability, and strengthens security.

Smartcar customers maintain the benefits of our standardized API — but with richer functionality and stronger safeguards for Tesla owners who choose to connect their cars to third-party apps.

Our upgraded integration with Tesla marks a new frontier in the connected car ecosystem, signifying a win for mobility developers. This is the future that Smartcar has been advocating for since day one. As we roll out this new integration to all Smartcar customers, let’s take a peek at what this means for third-party vehicle apps and services.

What does this mean for Smartcar customers?

This improved Tesla integration brings new benefits without any additional work on the customer’s end.

Think of it as every other new compatibility update that we introduce to our API — changes are rolled out automatically to our API without any disruption to your existing integration, contractual changes, or engineering lift.

As your connected car API platform, it’s our job to provide immediate access to all our upgraded integration features without you losing sleep over connectivity with automakers.

Why use Smartcar to integrate with Tesla?

It’s an exciting time to be a developer building the future of mobility.

Open APIs enable innovators to build software that solves gaping problems in our mobility ecosystem. But that’s not enough — you need comprehensive developer tools and a seamless experience to help you work better with the automotive industry as a whole.

Integrating with Smartcar’s API gives you the benefit of a direct Tesla integration and more at no additional cost. The ability to integrate with nearly any car brand, better developer-focused tools, faster on-demand support, and more engineering resources dedicated solely to the connected car integrations that bridge users to your app.

The Smartcar difference

Instead of building your own Tesla integration, Smartcar gives mobility businesses the following benefits:

A powerful developer experience

We know that developers need more than just an API reference to build a connected car app, so the Smartcar platform expands on Tesla to provide comprehensive documentation and a complete developer experience, including:

  • Eight SDKs for mobile and web.
  • A developer dashboard for managing multiple apps in one place, viewing usage analytics, customizing consent management, and an easy way to browse logs.
  • Secure collaboration with team roles and permissions.
  • A vehicle simulator to test applications before they go live.
  • Browse and remove vehicle connections with a single click.

Extensive vehicle support and growth

Smartcar is the best way to integrate with Tesla and 35 additional vehicle brands across North America and Europe — with a single integration.

Without our API, developers have to spend months attaining commercial contracts with each OEM, building bespoke proprietary integrations, and communicating with different support teams.

We also provide transparent commercial packages with clear pricing and feature sets so you don’t face unpredictable costs or technical restrictions as you scale with more cars and more API calls. Instead of worrying about the underlying infrastructure of your app, you can focus on your business and create value for your customers.

A commitment to consumer data privacy

Smartcar adds to the Tesla platform so businesses can implement more granular permissions for only necessary data, allowing customers to easily approve specific permissions and choose which vehicles in their Tesla account to connect to an app via Smartcar Connect. This protects vehicle owners and provides more transparency into how their data will be used.

When you integrate with us, you're also equipping your app with industry-grade compliance measures like SOC 2 Type 2, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Vulnerability Disclosure Program (VDP), and annual pen testing.

Technical support and onboarding assistance

As a developer platform, Smartcar supports customers with developer-facing support available across North America and Europe. Smartcar provides email, phone, and live chat support with guaranteed response times and a single source of technical assistance for all our compatible brands — which you can’t get when working directly with automakers.

Setting the standard for open telematics integrations

Smartcar's new integration with Tesla is the future of collaboration between automakers and third-party developers. We now see that the mobility industry is slowly prioritizing consumer choice, creating an environment where drivers can choose solutions that truly make a difference — boosting road safety, reducing costs, lowering carbon footprints, and improving transportation accessibility.

We’re excited to help mobility innovation reach new heights, powered by a high-quality integration with Tesla and the Smartcar developer experience.

Existing customers can stay tuned for an update from us announcing this new integration when it’s live! If you’re interested in learning more about Smartcar’s Tesla integration, book a meeting with our team.

MOVE America 2023: Driving connected mobility forward

Winona Rajamohan

4 min read

October 5, 2023
Events
Live SiteStaging Site

After a successful time at MOVE London, we’re excited to have spent additional time meeting more customers and industry innovators at MOVE America in Austin, Texas! Although Smartcar is no stranger to the MOVE conference, this year was our first time being an exhibitor and not just an attendee. Thank you to everyone who stopped by our booth and happy hour event to discuss the future of connected car ecosystems.

When our team landed in Austin, it was a non-stop agenda — just the way we like it! This year, MOVE was all about reimagining mobility. From connectivity to electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, and industry-specific transformations (like the software-driven shifts we see in auto insurance and fleets), the conference was buzzing with questions about what lies ahead for mobility technology and infrastructure.

Case in point: A popular question we heard from attendees at our booth and event revolved around our plans for 2024. There was a prevalent interest in the opportunity for connected car data across industries, and of course, Smartcar’s role in making that happen.

Smartcar’s Drink and Bites Event at Central District Brewing

If you didn’t get a chance to say hi to us while we were there, here’s a recap of our most popular conversations with MOVE attendees:

What can we do about the EV charging experience?

EV sales for the second quarter of 2023 are up 48% from 2022.

The number of EV charging stations today is double what it was three years ago.

Yet EV drivers are not satisfied with their EV charging experience.

When we asked attendees about forward-looking trends they’re excited about, a common answer popped up: Solutions that make it easy for EV drivers to own EVs.

We previously had this discussion about EV software with our friends at Monta, DroneDeploy, and Sitetracker. EV ownership — despite its skyrocketing growth — is still a relatively new chapter in the auto industry’s long and storied history. The driver experience we have in place is still tailored toward gas-powered vehicles.

Drivers are concerned about the ease of locating functional chargers, installing chargers at home, planning ahead for long drives, and keeping EV charging costs low. Thankfully, many third-party apps are making EV ownership easier.  We shared with attendees our experience helping customers build EV solutions filling these consumer experience gaps, like CAFU’s mission to help ease range anxiety with a mobile EV charging station that meets drivers at their location of choice.

Road usage charge for a modern world

More electric cars, less revenue from the gas tax — which isn’t a bad thing if governments start designing road usage charge programs (RUC) now. The race is on for local policymakers and tolling solutions, and they’re all curious to know how vehicle connectivity fits into the picture.

In the United States, 35 states are piloting road usage charge programs in their efforts to design a solution that’s equitable, secure, and frictionless. Policies are being tested to ensure drivers across different demographics are priced fairly and aren’t forced to add another cumbersome process to their vehicle ownership experience. With 97% of EVs being connected cars, introducing a completely software-based pricing system eliminates learning curves and reduces the possibility of errors.

Attendees at MOVE were excited to discuss progress in this space with Smartcar, given our experience helping tolling solutions launch successful hardware-free programs.

More recently, we helped the team at ClearRoad implement an RUC program without any manual entry of odometer readings, traffic camera installations, aftermarket hardware, or in-person toll transponders. They use Smartcar’s API to give both governments and drivers up-to-date odometer readings and transparent, consent-based data-sharing.

Where EVs fit in utility plans to upgrade power distribution

It’s been another summer of extreme heat and rolling blackouts. With more EVs connected to the grid now than ever before, the general public’s fear of grid instability is not unwarranted.

But utilities are working fast to put various demand response programs in place to cater to all groups of EV drivers. “Rate increases should NOT be a necessary element of EVs per se, although grid investments are long overdue in most areas for general reliability purposes,” says Bill LeBlanc, Chief Catalyst at Rolling Energy Resources, in a guest blog for Smartcar.

A common question that popped up for our team was, “How are utilities integrating with connected cars to drive grid sustainability forward, fast?

At Smartcar, we’re lucky to sit at the intersection of grid modernization efforts and clean energy innovation. Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed customers like Rolling Energy Resources strengthen utility partnerships by using APIs to quickly access valuable data that EV charging hardware cannot provide — like a vehicle’s state of charge.

By partnering with DERMS software and managed charging providers like Rolling Energy Resources to design proactive managed charging, one can provide detailed load forecasts, and incentivize charging during off-peak hours.

Didn’t catch us there? Let’s talk!

As first-year exhibitors, we’re honored at the opportunity to meet with so many passionate teams in the mobility space. Despite the many moving parts that are continuously evolving across different mobility sectors, MOVE showed us that we’re all moving toward a shared goal. It’s inspiring, and we’re more motivated than ever to keep building strong relationships with the many game-changers in this industry.

If you didn’t get a chance to stop by our booth or happy hour event, we’d love to hear from you! You can request a demo with our team of experts or connect with our team members who were at MOVE America — Paige, Dammand, and Andy.

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Smartcar achieves SOC 2 Type 2 compliance: A milestone in data security and privacy

Winona Rajamohan

3 min read

October 4, 2023
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

Smartcar has achieved SOC 2® Type 2 compliance for the past two years, successfully completing each audit with the help of our partner, Secureframe. As we make progress towards our third year of compliance, we’re excited to take this step forward to ensure a continued standard of excellence for mobility businesses using our platform.

Mobility data is powerful, but it’s extremely personal. By building a trusted relationship with drivers that protect their interests, mobility apps are in a prime position to tap into innovation while driving customer satisfaction, growth, and retention.

Businesses that partner with Smartcar prioritize efforts to keep consumers safe from any threat to their protected information, and our platform upholds these same high standards to ensure the security of apps, services, and drivers. To formalize our long-term commitment to data privacy, we’re continuing to partner with Secureframe to drive our continuous compliance strategy. This will enable us to continually improve our information security program and retain an annual SOC 2 Type 2 report to ensure we keep supporting our customers’ needs.

Connected car data must be protected

More than half of consumers who sync their data to connected devices are uncertain if their personal data is being stored and shared by companies.

With vehicle telematics becoming a common hardware-agnostic choice across many different use cases — including managed EV charging, car sharing, and auto insurance — businesses need to gain driver confidence with ethical access to available data.

The issue of data privacy, particularly regarding vehicle telematics, is felt on the global stage. In governments around the world, parties involved call for clear communication on how data is used and controlled upon being collected. At Smartcar, we take the same approach to data privacy. Unlike an automotive data marketplace, we do not facilitate companies selling data to others. Instead, we believe in empowering consumers to choose the apps they want to use — so we’ve taken all measures necessary to deliver this vision in the most thorough way.

What Smartcar’s SOC2 Type 2 compliance means for customers

The successful completion of our SOC 2 Type 2 audit serves as assurance that we are maintaining the highest standards for data security and have sufficient controls in place to mitigate security risks over an extended time period.

Our SOC 2 Type 2 examination was conducted by Modern Assurance, an independent, third-party accounting and auditing firm that evaluated our processes, procedures, and controls for security and availability.

This means that mobility businesses who use our platform can be assured that their data is being managed in a controlled and audited environment. By partnering with Secureframe, we can confidently say we have integrated our critical infrastructure to monitor compliance with the SOC 2 framework at all times, not just during the audit window.

How else do we upkeep consumer privacy and security?

Beyond our SOC 2 Type 2 compliance, we have implemented several other critical measures to maintain platform reliability while giving vehicle owners complete control of their shared data.

Smartcar Connect is our user onboarding flow where user consent is collected in compliance with the OAuth2 authorization protocol and is SSL encrypted. Vehicle owners can review specific permissions requested by an app before providing consent for sharing access to those specific data points or actions. Smartcar’s End User Privacy Policy is embedded within the flow to ensure users know how their information is handled. Additionally, Smartcar allows customers to hyperlink their privacy policy into the flow as well.

Smartcar runs on industry-standard cloud infrastructure that establishes security best practices to prevent unauthorized access to our platform. All requests to Smartcar services must be encrypted using HTTPS, and all data stored on our platform is protected with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit encryption.

Smartcar is also compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Vulnerability Disclosure Policy (VDP), and Penetration (Pen) Testing. Our platform processes only the necessary data to serve our customers. With Smartcar, vehicle owners can revoke their consent at any time.

Learn how we can meet your vendor requirements

Visit our data security page to learn about the measures we take to ensure the safety of the Smartcar platform. Smartcar customers can also reach out to their Customer Success Manager to see our SOC 2 Type 2 report.

If you’re evaluating Smartcar, you can contact our Sales team to request a copy of the report as part of your vendor security and compliance process.

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How ClearRoad offers an alternative solution to road and infrastructure funding

Erica Bickel

4 min read

September 27, 2023
Customer story
Live SiteStaging Site

ClearRoad creates digital solutions to help maintain, manage, and fund our roads. Founded in response to overall EV growth and its consequential impact on the nationwide gas tax, ClearRoad strives to support government agencies implementing forward-thinking, adaptive road pricing policies to better U.S. infrastructure. To enable its flagship product’s compatibility with a host of different electric vehicles, ClearRoad utilized Smartcar’s APIs for automatic information-sharing and seamless integration.

   

At a glance

   

🚧 Problem: ClearRoad wanted a hardware-free, automatic alternative to manual inputs for its pioneer Road Usage Charge (RUC) offering.

   

💡 Solution: Smartcar collects and centralizes accurate, up-to-date vehicle information to simplify the end-user experience, and unlock the full potential of the ClearRoad platform.

   

📈 Results: The ClearRoad x Smartcar integration powers various government RUC programs, including some of the first introduced in the US.


What will happen when the gas tax becomes obsolete? As the nation shifts towards electric vehicle sales, governments both large and small are scrambling to answer this question. Without critical funding in place, the U.S. risks falling further behind in necessary infrastructure developments. While a pay-per-mile structure is now widely being considered at both the state and federal levels, current solutions on the market today still rely heavily on manual inputs. Not only is the information offered by these options limited, but they’re also fixed and costly to implement.

Faced with these facts, ClearRoad sought to create a simple data-processing rules engine for a transformative road pricing solution. This way, the states and municipalities themselves could determine how best to charge for use of their roads especially by electric vehicles, while allowing their solution to be adaptive to future changes and new trends.

Tailoring transportation solutions to fit the modern world

ClearRoad works by supplying the end-user (i.e. government agencies) with tailored solutions to match their transportation goals. Whether offering tiered pricing, promoting traffic reduction, or funding public transportation through RUC, ClearRoad’s solution is flexible and allows for the layering of different policies and programs to achieve varying transportation goals. Back-office and payment integrations streamline billing, collection, and payment remittance processes — ensuring seamless RUC program operations.

But to get where they are today, ClearRoad had to establish a new way of road usage charging, specifically built to address the needs of electric vehicles and simultaneous connected vehicle trends. The industry norm is still gas-powered cars, in which the submission of manual odometer readings, installation of gantries and traffic cameras, and purchase of in-vehicle plug-in devices or toll transponders is standard. To challenge this notion meant creating a new, next-generation RUC solution that eliminated physical inputs, unwieldy infrastructure, and expensive hardware.


The Smartcar x ClearRoad partnership brings RUC to the next level. Now, we can equip governments with the technology needed to implement sustainable transportation funding while improving the driver experience.

— Nadine Gutierrez, Marketing Lead at ClearRoad


Achieving a new way of RUC

To achieve this, ClearRoad needed access to reliable, up-to-date, and accurate vehicle information. When looking for an API platform, the company stressed the importance of data accessibility, security, and the ability to change as RUC policies continuously evolve. As Smartcar was already part of both the transportation and tech industries, the partnership was a natural choice. Boasting compatibility with a host of brands, makes, and models, Smartcar facilitated positive customer interactions through better product compatibility, quality of service, and ease of integration.

As a result, ClearRoad’s full-service suite benefits both governments and the drivers themselves. As a one-stop shop for a road usage charge solution, the deployment and execution of these programs is now fast, flexible, and hardware-free.

   

How ClearRoad evaluated Smartcar as their EV API platform

   

🔋 EV brand coverage

   

Smartcar is compatible with over 100 different EV models across 25 brands, making it easy to scale and implement ClearRoad’s RUC platform.

   

🧰 Comprehensive API platform

   

Developers work with a clear and detailed set of resources, including easy-to-use APIs, SDKs, and a powerful self-service dashboard.

   

✅ Platform reliability

   

Finding an API provider that could supply up-to-date, accurate vehicle information was a non-negotiable for ClearRoad. As a trusted partner, Smartcar continues to add new makes and models to the platform quarterly, ensuring compatibility is always current.

Looking ahead to a tangible future

ClearRoad’s ultimate goal has always been to provide governments with the tools they need to make RUC, particularly for electric vehicles, more attainable. By future-proofing transportation funding, the company hopes that the United States will never again struggle with crumbling infrastructure of any kind. While the states of Hawaii, Michigan, and the Eastern Transportation Coalition are just now exploring RUC programs, others have already begun implementing such plans. In the coming months, a federal-level RUC pilot may even come to fruition.

In the meantime, Smartcar will continue to be used as the API solution of choice for several of ClearRoad’s current RUC programs, redefining how RUC is implemented across the country and leveraging available technology.

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Building repeatable processes for zero-downtime migration

Ashwin Kumar Subramanian

4 min read

September 22, 2023
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

In our last blog post about zero downtime Postgres migrations, we shared how we set up this process on the open-source tool, Bucardo. To recap, we outlined four necessary steps to doing this right:

  1. Bring up the new database
  2. Migrate data live as it changes in the current database over to a new database instance without data loss.
  3. Switch all the clients over to the new database
  4. Stop the synchronization process and sunset the old database.

This post dives into how we switched all our clients to a new database without any noticeable downtime.

🧰 How we used Bucardo for a zero-downtime PostgreSQL migration

Learn how we’r migrating our database using Bucardo, an open-source tool for replicating PostgreSQL data.

👉 Read our blog

What problem are we trying to solve?

Smartcar has several clients that use the Postgres database. However, we use a centralized repository as a database package for all our dependent clients. This database package is in charge of actually creating and managing connections to the database and has all the configurations required to connect to the databases for all environments. That being said, our current architecture looks like this:

With the architecture above, it would only be possible to switch all our services to the new database with downtime. The process would include:

  1. Updating the DB package so it contains connection details for the new database.
  2. Releasing a new version of the DB package.
  3. Updating the DB package dependency for all Smartcar services.
  4. Redeploying the services with the updated dependency.

On paper, it sounds simple, but we have multiple services that connect to the DB — which means all systems would have to cutover simultaneously, which is practically impossible.

This is where we slightly modified our DB package so we could switch all connections over to the new database dynamically without any package updates or deployments.

The solution: Dynamic connection configurations

We added a few lines of code in our DB package that would help us dynamically update the database connection configurations through any source — like a configuration management tool or, in our case, a separate database. To summarize, this is what the new code did:

  • Instead of having a single connection configuration, we added two blocks of configurations, 'red' and 'black.' In addition to this, we also had one extra configuration named 'currentConfig' to tell us which of the two blocks is the current connection object
  • The code that used to previously create DB connections now has an infinite loop that connects to a DynamoDB on AWS after a specified interval to check if the current configuration value has changed. If the code finds a change, it will close down all existing connections to the DB and create new ones with the new configurations.

We also added a few other niceties to the process:

  • An additional test color configuration that will test a given color configuration when activated instead of switching the connection.
  • An interval (TTL) in seconds configuration that defines the interval value for the infinite loop. For example, we can now control how frequently the code should look up Dynamo for configuration changes.
  • Extensive logging when the loop checks for configuration changes. When configuration changes are pushed (like the current config color or the interval value), we would log which service gets the changes and if the changes were successful.

Based on the updates above, our current architecture looks like this:

Now, all we had to do was ensure that the new connection details were inserted in Dynamo DB and that the interval value was shortened so it was small enough for the change to take over quickly.

The unexpected surprises (a.k.a what we learned)

When our systems were ready to switch the database over dynamically, we ran through the complete list of migration steps a few times.

We learned a few things along the way to make our process better, faster, and cleaner.

  • Auto-generated sequences: We discovered that Bucardo was not syncing up auto-generated ID (Serial type) columns. For example, a table with an auto-generated ID would copy over values but not necessarily update the sequence to the latest value. We’re investigating this problem further, but for now, we’ve added an item to manually update the sequences in our Bucardo setup steps.
  • Services are scaled: We have multiple instances of each of our services running to support high volumes of requests, but the configuration changes through the DB package only occurred when an attempt was made through a given instance of the service. Instead of figuring out how to trigger an update by making requests to individual services, we decided to scale down our services to one instance for a few minutes when the config switch was being done.
  • Deployment failure post-migration: One of our service's deployments failed during our first run, causing the TTL to be stuck at a 30-second loop for a long time. So we added an additional step of updating the TTL to a day after switching databases so the check isn’t happening every 30 seconds, even if the deployment fails.

More for developers: 🪝 How to set up Smartcar's scheduled webhooks

Explore how to use Smartcar's schedule-based webhooks to fetch recurring data from vehicles connected to an app.

👉 Read our blog

Moving forward with repeatable processes

All the trial and error finally led to us having a strong, repeatable process for our database upgrades. In fact, we’ve already done three upgrades with it!

Even though we’re certain that this approach to migration will result in no downtime, we still continue to inform our users about database maintenance and give them a window where our systems could return errors. This is done solely to accommodate any unexpected events. We hope you keep this in mind too if you’re looking to try this out!

We’re looking forward to sharing more learnings with the developer community! Subscribe to our newsletter below to stay tuned to our blog and to share your thoughts on developer productivity or all things connected cars 🤓

Have a cool idea you want to explore with the Smartcar API? Head on over to our docs and create a developer account to retrieve your API credentials and get started with the integration!

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Revvo and Smartcar introduce a connected tire solution for predictive maintenance

Winona Rajamohan

4 min read

September 18, 2023
Maintenance
Live SiteStaging Site

Revvo and Smartcar partnered to deliver a connected tire service that makes it easy for tire retailers to win more customers and increase sales. Empower drivers with a modern and cost-efficient approach to tire maintenance by integrating directly with vehicles to set up automated predictive maintenance alerts.

   

📝 Busy day? Here's a summary of what's ahead:

       
  • The cost of a tire continues to increase, now up 20% than what it was two years ago. Drivers want to put their trust in tire vendors that can help them act early, mitigate unexpected damage, and save money.
  •    
  • Tire vendors are missing out on the opportunity to optimize time, labor, and operational costs by adopting a reactive approach to maintenance — like manual inspections and emergency repairs that happen after an issue starts causing damage.
  •    
  • We’re excited to introduce Revvo and Smartcar’s connected tire solution, a new frontier in tire management that prioritizes proactive maintenance. Implement reliable, secure, and automated tire management workflows without the hassle of in-house development and limited vehicle support.

The notion of prevention is prevalent in everything we do. We use technology to prevent business risks, productivity loss, or waiting too long in traffic. Today, over 50% of Americans wear some sort of wearable connected device to monitor their health at home.

It only makes sense that we use technology to prevent unexpected damage from one of the most expensive assets we can purchase — our vehicles.

Since vehicles have been on roads, it's been well documented by the likes of AAA that tires are the number one cause of road service calls. For vehicle owners, replacing tires has never been more stressful. The cost of a tire today is over 20% higher than what it was two years ago, without accounting for labor costs.

But think about the damage (and costs) you could avoid with a personalized service that suggests and schedules actions to take on your tires. Proactive tire maintenance is the future of the vehicle management experience, and we’re excited to introduce a solution that makes it easier than ever for tire retailers, fleet managers, and individuals to access it.

Connected car data makes predictive maintenance possible

Vehicle telematics isn’t new to automotive repair and maintenance, but there have been missed opportunities to use this data to drive efficiency and engagement with drivers.

Onboard diagnostic (OBD) dongles provide retailers and repair shops with access to telematics data, but these devices don’t help package that data into a user-friendly service experience that individuals and fleet managers actually want. Because OBD devices are black boxes of information, you would still have to bring vehicles into shops for manual inspections after a problem occurs.

But software helps tire retailers act on vehicle data with fewer disruptions, more transparency, and higher levels of interoperability with other relevant solutions — like reward programs, insurance providers, roadside assistance services, and business operations platforms.

Instead of pulling information from physical devices and in-person inspections, the goal of predictive maintenance is to use a system that automatically monitors vehicle and tire health, tracks mileage and uses that information to detect potential issues. What does this mean for tire vendors?

✅ Smarter resource allocation

✅ Fewer emergency repairs

✅ Optimized inventory

✅ Less downtime for customers

How do Revvo and Smartcar come into the picture?

Nine out of 10 vehicles in the US are shipped as connected cars with built-in internet connectivity. Vehicle owners can access telematics features via their automaker’s connected services account, which more automakers are providing as a complimentary service when you purchase your vehicle.

But these built-in telematics functionalities are limited. A survey by PEGA discovered that 65% of vehicle owners want to be alerted when it’s time to schedule a service — an area not within the realm of expertise for automakers. Although this gives tire retailers a significant opportunity to fill that gap, building a sophisticated solution capable of predictive maintenance and in-depth tire visibility is a big resource sinker.

Building a single reliable vehicle integration in-house can take anywhere between two to five engineers for an initial build and ongoing maintenance, not taking into account resources to develop an intelligent frontend experience that’s intuitive, responsive, and easy to implement.

That’s why Smartcar and Revvo are stepping in to help tire service providers, fleets, and individuals act on vehicle telematics data within an end-to-end platform that centralizes and personalizes all aspects of tire management.

Introducing the connected tire solution transforming tire management

Revvo is the solution to connect, monitor, and manage vehicle tires — automatically and remotely.  Revvo connects to vehicles remotely and leverages its industry-leading AI engine, TireIQ, to process vehicle and tire data to predict tire issues and alert drivers and retailers about critical tire events in real time.

Revvo delivers these benefits by using Smartcars’s API to quickly and securely pull data like a vehicle’s odometer readings, fuel tank and battery levels, tire pressure, and more.

Combine both these solutions together and you get a connected tire service that enables vehicles to be safer and more efficient on the road.

How does this solution help tire retailers and distributors deliver results?

Move away from reactive and manual tire inspections with predictive alerts to protect drivers against unexpected tire failure. Automatically push notifications to tire vendors and retail locations when tires need service so you can offer immediate support to drivers, helping them make the most of their time and money.

Build a proactive tire service experience with Revvo and Smartcar

With Smartcar and Revvo’s connected tire service, solidify your place in the market with:

🗺 Remote tire monitoring between shop visits
🔎 Accelerated issue detection and resolution
📈 Instant software-based integrations with 36 vehicle brands
🔐 Robust security compliance and consent-based vehicle authentication

If you’re a tire retailer or distributor looking to optimize costs and free up resources, there’s no better time than now to eliminate manual inspections and reactive problem-solving. Revvo and Smartcar’s connected tire solution is a simple, intuitive, and cost-effective way to digitize tire management without in-house development or hardware installations.

Let’s connect and discuss how you can integrate our connected tire solution into your business.  


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar or Revvo.

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Smartcar's starter apps: Fast-track your mobility app development

Winona Rajamohan

3 min read

September 13, 2023
Product
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Our mission of making it easier and faster for developers to build better apps for cars drives everything we do here at Smartcar. Our API eliminates the need for teams to build vehicle integrations from scratch and spend hundreds of hours standardizing vehicle data, creating documentation, and maintaining APIs long-term.

Smartcar’s comprehensive developer tools unlock significant time and cost savings for mobility businesses that want to serve a majority of vehicle makes and models on the road today. But we realized there’s more we can do for teams who don’t have the resources to start building applications on top of Smartcar’s platform right away.

With Smartcar’s starter apps, we’re excited to help customers fast-track their app development across our most popular use cases. Learn more about who our starter apps are for, and check out our demo videos below!

What do Smartcar’s starter apps do?

Our starter apps give developers a template to configure an application using our API endpoints and consent-based vehicle authorization flow. With these sample applications, you can begin exploring Smartcar’s extensive vehicle integration capabilities and familiarizing yourself with our API before building and customizing your unique application.

Getting started with these templates is easy. All you need to do is:

  1. Create a Smartcar account
  2. Watch the short tutorial videos below
  3. Access our starter apps on GitHub

Who are our starter apps for?

Smartcar’s starter apps are a great resource for teams to get their applications into production quickly, regardless of their experience level or project complexity.

We’ve seen both robust engineering organizations and early-stage startups scale category-defining solutions using our APIs. But we’ve learned that even with our ready-to-use endpoints, SDKs, and documentation, it can take time for businesses to rally up developer bandwidth for configuring our API.

We introduced our starter apps to help teams ramp up their output by:

Tackling any learning curves and unfamiliarity with the Smartcar API

If your developers have limited experience working with platforms like Smartcar, they would typically have to factor in additional time to understand our documentation and try our developer tools before beginning work on an application.

Our starter apps help developers learn by doing, regardless of their proficiency levels or existing skills. Teams can quickly get up to speed with our core endpoints and UI/UX elements and see real-world examples of our advanced customization features in action — like our brand-specific endpoints, Single Select, and Brand Select.

Overcoming time or bandwidth constraints for smaller developer teams

We know that speed is everything in a mobility industry that’s evolving fast to keep up with new automotive manufacturing targets and regulations — and we’ve had the privilege of witnessing emerging startups bring their ideas to life in weeks instead of months, even without starter apps.

For teams with little extra hours to spare on developments outside a core product or feature, Smartcar’s starter apps help you reap the benefits of a standardized connected car API without sacrificing speed-to-market. If you were hesitant about adopting a developer platform because of these limitations, there’s no better time to start than now.

Demo: How do you use our starter apps?

Here’s a quick rundown of instructions (and a short demo) to begin using Smartcar’s starter apps. Comprehensive documentation is available on GitHub 🚀

  1. Create an application on the Smartcar's Developer Dashboard to obtain your API keys.
  2. Set up a Node backend with Express and customize the Smartcar vehicle endpoints according to your solution’s requirements.
  3. Set up a React front end with Axios as the HTTP client and customize your Smartcar Connect flow for your specific use case.
  4. Explore our configuration files and start building your app!

Demo: Four templates, four popular Smartcar use cases

Our customers use the Smartcar API to power solutions that change how consumers interact with their vehicles. Vehicle owners and businesses use our endpoints daily to lower EV charging costs, accelerate vehicle maintenance, skip long car rental queues, and enroll in equitable auto insurance plans.

So we’ve created four pre-made configurations highlighting our integration across these rapidly evolving mobility industries: Auto insurance, energy and utilities, car sharing, and roadside assistance.

The video below explores how you can start customizing these configuration files!

Start building with Smartcar

We can’t wait to see all the exciting opportunities developers are exploring with our API. Whether you’re a business looking to grow your user base or an early-stage team eager to launch a groundbreaking new idea, we’re here to help.

Get started with our starter apps today, and don't hesitate to contact our team if you have any questions!

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How usage-based insurance APIs are reshaping the auto insurance experience

Winona Rajamohan

8 min read

September 11, 2023
Auto insurance
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In 2022, participation in usage-based insurance (UBI) programs doubled from what it was in 2016. Insurance price satisfaction among UBI customers was 59 points higher than overall auto insurance customers, where customer satisfaction levels have dropped to a 20-year low. The consumer shift toward UBI makes these programs even more valuable for insurance providers — and with usage-based insurance APIs, building quality apps that deliver convenience to drivers just got a whole lot easier.

Whether you’re in the business of insurance technology (InsurTech) or an incumbent auto insurance provider, the benefits are clear. Usage-based insurance products mark a new era in the relationship between auto insurance providers and policyholders.

Personalized premiums, cost savings, and incentives all lead to more loyal customers for insurance companies. But more importantly, it reimagines the customer experience and allows auto insurance to be as seamless and intuitive as all the other digital products we use.

The biggest bottleneck to this customer experience is data. It may not be surprising that most young drivers would rather not share their data with their auto insurance providers because they’re unsure how organizations use it. In fact, a survey by Zebra found that 40% of Gen Z drivers don’t know what telematics is at all.

The key to UBI success is building mutual trust with policyholders via accurate, secure, and transparent vehicle data. If you’re looking for a scalable way to reach this goal but not at the expense of your existing software development priorities, this blog is for you.

Why use APIs for usage-based insurance?

A 2022 survey by TransUnion discovered that almost half of the drivers surveyed opted into a telematics option provided by their insurers, with two-thirds reporting that they were satisfied with their choice.

A sophisticated and reliable UBI product needs mature technology. Insurance companies need to manage vehicle integrations and claims from drivers, all while keeping customers engaged and satisfied. But doing everything at once isn’t easy — especially if your specialty is building insurance products and not vehicle integrations.

A standardized car API makes it easier for insurance providers to do what they do best without compromising the quality of a software-driven experience. You can grow your business with:  

Software-only vehicle integrations ☁️

Vehicle telematics allows insurance providers to automatically retrieve the right vehicle data points without policyholders installing aftermarket hardware or conducting manual data entry. Although these forms of data collection have long been prevalent in the auto industry, they’re not cut out to meet what consumers expect today — with nearly half of those surveyed by Solera wanting fully digitized processes for processes like settling their collision claims.

If insurers have mobile apps or a web portal they can use a connected car API to collect mileage data directly from a vehicle without customer intervention. This data collection method is integrated into the app’s architecture, removing the risk of delays and inaccuracies from disjointed data sources.

From a cost perspective, UBI providers use Smartcar’s API to save money and time recording mileage data on a per-use basis across 30+ vehicle brands. We can authenticate vehicles with a quick consent-based onboarding process that happens directly in mobile apps and web portals, or through a link sent in an email or text to vehicle owners.

Higher user engagement on mobile insurance apps 🤩

Digitizing auto insurance doesn’t come easy. The average cost of developing a car insurance app in the US and Europe ranges from $60,000 to $180,000 — not accounting for the hidden costs often associated with in-house development, like upsizing engineering times or making up for constrained bandwidths.

These investments make it even more important for auto insurers to maximize app usage and turn it into an avenue for more customer engagement and adoption. Beyond accessing policy information, filing claims, and paying bills, insurance providers can use a standardized car API to equip their apps with user-centric capabilities like:

  • Faster claim validation: Retrieve data at regular intervals to reduce the time needed to verify information from a policyholder’s vehicle.
  • Predictive maintenance: Help vehicle owners reduce claim costs and mitigate risks by using your insurance app to set up personalized, predictive maintenance alerts that notify customers when they need to check their vehicle’s tires, engine health, braking systems, and more.
  • Incident notifications: Send an immediate alert when an accident involves the policyholder’s vehicle.
  • Roadside assistance: Use a vehicle’s approximate location to dispatch help immediately after an incident. Vehicle diagnostic data can also help dispatchers identify the right servicing equipment to bring to the incident location.
  • On-demand vehicle information: Supplement your app with general vehicle diagnostic data that policyholders would be interested in monitoring regularly, giving them a reason to log into your app even when no incidents occur.

Access to accurate and secure data 🔐

According to a survey by JD Power, nearly one-third of auto insurance customers in the US saw a rate increase in the past year. These hiked prices make UBI products more enticing but also introduce new concerns. Only 38% of customers said that the information collected by UBI technologies was consistently accurate.

Drivers want their insurance to be priced fairly without putting their sensitive information at risk, giving insurance providers a big responsibility to provide technology to manage these expectations. With Smartcar’s APIs, insurance providers don’t have to rely on data collected from:

  • Hardware installed in the vehicle’s OBD port: The auto industry has steadily been moving away from this technology. If not installed correctly, these devices can record inaccurate data, making it inconvenient for customers to get proper rates. More importantly, these OBD devices are black boxes of information that give drivers limited visibility into the data auto insurers collect.
  • Smartphone telematics: Auto insurance providers often use smartphone apps to capture driver behavior. But smartphone data collection is only reliable if the phones are positioned correctly and have high-quality sensors that can capture the right information. From a privacy standpoint, smartphone telematics collects real-time data not limited by short-term authentication like token-based APIs — which gives drivers more to worry about with constantly being monitored or having unrelated sensitive data shared with insurers as well.

Compatibility with EVs entering the market 📈

As EV adoption grows, auto insurers will rethink how they price insurance premiums and explore new opportunities. A LinkedIn article by InsurTech strategist Adam Kostecki, explains how EVs “completely change the nature of the risk in ways that actuaries do not fully understand.” Factors like more driver assistance features, expensive parts, and features that have never existed before contribute to this shift.

Coupled with the fact that new EV models are rapidly being introduced to the market, auto insurers must have the means to manage and standardize all their EV data.

Electric vehicles produce a lot more data than regular gas-powered vehicles. Smartcar helps auto insurers offload the hassle of building software-only integrations for EVs and standardizing data across different makes and models. Our main job is building vehicle integrations — which means we have the resources to keep up with the EV market and ensure the reliability of each integration.

With our API, auto insurers can access data like mileage, battery levels, and location across over 100 EV models and counting, with new makes and models automatically made available to customers when ready.


When we were looking for a user-friendly and cost-effective way to verify a policyholder’s mileage, Smartcar’s solution really stood out. Having access to an API that directly integrates with each vehicle is a huge advantage for us. On top of that, Smartcar’s docs and SDKs made it easy for our engineers to implement.

– Andreas Broström, CEO at Paydrive


Solving implementation challenges with Smartcar's APIs for usage-based insurance

Insurance is part of the ‘switching economy,’ in which buyers are open to moving to a new provider if they find better rates or products. With emerging InsurTechs, incumbent insurance providers, and even OEMs exploring UBI products,  drivers have no shortage of choices. Beyond premium prices, consumers can now quickly evaluate a provider’s user experience as a reason to switch or stay.

Smartcar’s connected car API helps insurance providers stay competitive by optimizing their insurance app experience and addressing the following challenges:

Meeting driver privacy standards

A big qualm consumers have with UBI is that auto insurers have unrestricted access to sensitive mobility data without their consent. With connected car APIs, insurance providers have a clear way to implement robust enterprise-grade security compliance protocols. When you integrate with Smartcar’s API, you’re also implementing the following data security measures:

  • A consent-based permissions system compliant with OAuth2 authorization protocol: With Smartcar Connect, Drivers can view the exact data points requested by your app and provide explicit consent before onboarding their vehicle.
  • API tokens management: Instead of building token management systems from scratch, Smartcar lets you work with pre-built UI, databases, token routes, and refresh routes.
  • HTTPS data encryption: All data transferred between Smartcar and our clients is protected with industry-standard Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit encryption.
  • GPDR and CCPA compliance: As an API vendor facilitating data-sharing between drivers and apps, we’ve prioritized building a secure platform compliant with digital privacy laws — giving you one less thing to worry about.

Vehicle data collection and standardization

Building vehicle API integrations from scratch with internal developer resources is a big undertaking. The inability to commit to these investments easily pushes companies to opt for more traditional methods like purchasing data and using hardware devices.

But direct software-based integrations with vehicles are the most reliable, accurate, and secure way to collect mobility data from vehicle owners. The need for risk-free data streams is why insurance providers use Smartcar’s API to simplify the app development experience while delivering a future-ready product for widespread vehicle connectivity and stricter mobility data protocols.

Smartcar empowers your developers with the tools and resources they need to implement a network of connected car integrations with standardized data, user login flows, and user interfaces during onboarding.

What it looks like building vehicle apps without a standardized car API

Instead of bogging engineers down with fragmented vehicle connections and limited vehicle support, UBI apps can use Smartcar to deliver services to hundreds of millions of vehicles — including 95% of EVs on the road today.

Customer onboarding and adoption

Consumers hold digital products to the same standard, regardless of what purpose they serve. If you’re used to user-friendly interfaces and an intuitive signup process for banking, shopping, and entertainment apps, why would you not expect the same from your insurance app too?

Smartcar designed our vehicle onboarding process to help apps deliver a quick, modern, standardized login experience across all compatible brands. You can use our comprehensive integration guides and SDKs to set up your app with Smartcar Connect, an OAuth2.0 onboarding flow that allows customers to onboard their vehicles to your UBI program in a few clicks.

All your customers need to do is:

  1. Log in to their connected services account
  2. Review the data your app is requesting
  3. Consent to sharing their data with your app

Is Smartcar's usage-based insurance API the right choice for your app?

A car API will prove helpful if you want to build a mobility app that checks the following boxes:

  • Integrates with EVs and connected cars without any hardware: Zeti’s pay-per-mile fleet financing platform moved away from hardware because it drained vehicle batteries and introduced unnecessary costs. With Smartcar, they experienced fewer vehicle disconnections, higher bill accuracy, and more revenue.
  • Gives customers the choice of consenting to shared data: Pay–per–mile insurance app Paydrive ensures that customers are charged fairly by periodically collecting mileage and location data. Customers are more likely to agree to use the app because of the clear verbiage and UI informing drivers about the data an app collects from them. This UI is pre-built and ready to use via Smartcar.
  • Moves quickly to stay competitive: Battery analytics software, Recurrent sped up production by 6 to 12 months by retrieving data with Smartcar’s car API platform. This speed to market was vital for them as a pre-seed startup in the EV battery software space.

To get started with our car API for auto insurance, check out our auto insurance guide or talk to our team today!

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Delivering on-demand EV charging anytime, anywhere with CAFU

Erica Bickel

4 min read

September 8, 2023
EV charging
Customer story
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Time is the most valuable commodity of all. It’s this principle that inspired CAFU’s mission — “find a better way to do things.” Since 2018, the company has provided on-demand fuel and delivery services for a host of customers in the United Arab Emirates. This year, CAFU brought its new mobile EV charging solution to Canada. As the first service of its kind, CAFU simplifies the charging experience for drivers with on-demand electricity, delivered in just minutes.

Through the organization’s expansion to Canada, CAFU realized the importance of understanding and addressing the distinct needs and unique dynamics of each market segment. In order to ensure the product was relevant, beneficial, and tailored to the communities it served, CAFU looked for an API solution that could localize the app’s product offerings and delivery results.

At a glance

🚧 Problem: CAFU needed a seamless way to prioritize vehicles to charge via their location, state of charge, and requested delivery time.

💡 Solution: Smartcar’s APIs allowed CAFU to automatically integrate with its customers’ vehicles, and receive information like location and charging status instantly.

📈 Results: CAFU is able to serve more drivers in less time, and scale its services to reach new markets.


Range anxiety, or the worry that EVs will run out of charge before their intended destination plagues both owners and would-be customers alike. To increase EV adoption and electricity accessibility for those without home chargers, CAFU complements public charging networks with on-demand EV charging in residential neighborhoods, public parking lots, and community events.

EV charging that comes to you

As Canada’s first mobile EV charging station, CAFU brings simple, reliable service to the masses directly through its mobile app. Customers can order a CAFU vehicle to meet them at a location of their choosing, streamlining the stressful process of locating and ensuring the availability of public charging stations. By eliminating wait times and dispensing on-demand, high-speed charge, the company aims to reduce range anxiety and empower greater convenience for its users.

Once connected to the mobile app, customers will also receive real-time status updates, and reminder notifications for low battery — even when the app is not in active use. This action then prompts customers to schedule charging when most applicable. In this “set it and forget it” manner, CAFU users save time, and can instead focus on where their vehicles can take them next, instead of where they’ll find their next charge.


We chose Smartcar because of its strong presence in North America, the right amount of engineering capabilities and support, and its reliability and experience as a trusted solution.

— Aadam Zaidi, Principal Product Manager at CAFU


Bridging the individual market gap

After recognizing that all of the vehicles CAFU intended to serve were IoT-enabled, the search began for an API solution that provides comprehensive location and charging data, while also improving the customer experience. To better prioritize orders, CAFU needed a hardware-free way to get an EV’s approximate location and required charge. While the app asked for this information from customers manually, the company felt that this process was too time-consuming, and ultimately turned users away from booking.

Using Smartcar allowed CAFU to streamline the mobile app’s experience in both registering new vehicles and enabling bookings. Broaching new, international markets is no easy feat. Through Smartcar, CAFU gained a stronger understanding of its customers’ charging behaviors, their willingness to connect to the CAFU platform, and the technical nuances of different makes and models. This detailed vehicle information ultimately facilitated better customer interactions with faster service and appropriate amounts of energy to fulfill each order.

How CAFU evaluated Smartcar as their EV API platform

🔋 EV brand coverage

Smartcar is compatible with over 100 different EV models across 29 brands, making it easy to scale and grow CAFU’s mobile delivery service.

🧰 Comprehensive API platform

Developers work with a clear and detailed set of resources, including easy-to-use APIs, SDKs, and a powerful self-service dashboard.

😍 Ease of use for CAFU customers

Smartcar’s solution is quick and easy to install, requires no hardware, and offers plenty of online support documentation.


Launching our offering with Smartcar grants us the ability to serve our customers more efficiently, and learn how we can better tailor our offerings to the market.

— Jean-François Lapierre, Senior Vice President International & Head of Special Projects at CAFU


Expanding charging accessibility worldwide

The Canadian and UAE markets represent just the beginning of where CAFU’s on-demand EV charging services will go. Currently, CAFU is also developing a licensing model that allows the company to provide authorization to operators interested in bringing this service to other cities and countries — with CAFU providing both the specialized vehicles and the technology. These licenses further accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles and address long-held consumer confidence concerns surrounding EVs and general range anxiety. CAFU’s efforts will ideally help governments achieve EV adoption targets as well, with Smartcar helping improve access every step of the way. Visit the Google Play or iOS App Store to download CAFU and learn more.

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Can the grid handle electric cars? Yes — EVs actually improve the grid.

Bill LeBlanc

3 min read

August 24, 2023
Energy
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This is a guest blog from Bill LeBlanc, Chief Catalyst at Rolling Energy Resources. Bill has extensive experience in the energy and utility industries through his prior work at E Source, Electric Power Research Institute, and as a consultant and public speaker. Over the past year, there has been no shortage of news articles raising concerns about how EV charging will impact electrical grids, especially with heightened demand due to extreme weather conditions. In this article, Bill shares his take on recent research demystifying the role of EVs in grid modernization efforts.

In a recent MIT study on transportation electrification and the need for electric grid expansion, it concludes that EVs can actually make the grid MORE efficient instead of causing new peaks. Below are some of my insights on the results based on their modeling.

Managed charging at home

Charging at home overnight MUST be managed to eliminate the natural peak that would otherwise occur at the beginning of the charge cycle when there are also other high home-based demands. Technology applications already exist to push charging later in the evening/night and work backward from when people need a full charge the next day. (This is what my company, Rolling Energy Resources does in partnership with Smartcar, not-coincidentally).

Good news/bad news

Electricity is relatively abundant during specific time periods, such as midnight to 5 am and midday in solar-rich environments. These low-demand times result in lower electricity costs, making EV charging even more affordable. However, many utilities lack appropriate electric rate designs to incentivize charging patterns that align with these low-cost periods.

It is crucial that we address this issue, especially as the grid mix undergoes radical changes. Static time-of-use rates alone may not suffice in our future, where distributed energy resources (DERs) play a significant role. Innovative rate designs and incentives must be implemented to encourage desired charging behavior.

Workplace charging becomes more important

Adding workplace charging will become more critical as solar energy grows in importance in the coming years. This helps "soak up" high production that otherwise could be wasted. Level 1 charging, which utilizes a regular 110-volt plug, could be sufficient for most people as they spend a significant amount of time parked at work. The average commute is well below 25 miles, easily covered within approximately 6 hours of parked time. Telematics-based charging management systems can be highly beneficial in this scenario. They enable the management of vehicle charging not only at home but also at various locations, including the workplace.

Addressing equity in electricity rates through EVs

Keeping electricity costs low for ALL electric customers depends on strategic management of EV charging, and utilities will be the conductors of this complex electrical orchestra. Rate increases should NOT be a necessary element of EVs per se, although grid investments are long overdue in most areas for general reliability purposes.

Don’t forget distribution infrastructure costs

The well-done MIT study falls short in a very critical area, which is analyzing local electrical distribution cost management. They look at it from a supply standpoint (power plants) but a large portion of infrastructure costs will be based on highly localized demand. If there are 10 EVs on one street, then there may need to be more aggressively managed than if there are just one or two. Precision management is key.

Bottom line

While unmanaged charging of EVs could stress the grid, implementing intelligent and diligent programs for drivers can transform the grid of the future into a more efficient and effective system. The MIT study sheds light on the potential of EVs to enhance grid performance. By embracing innovative charging technologies, incentivizing charging during off-peak hours, and leveraging workplace charging, we can harness the benefits of EVs while minimizing any strain on the power grid. With strategic management and investments in grid infrastructure, EVs have the power to drive us toward a more sustainable and resilient energy future.

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New at Smartcar: customize your user experience

Erica Bickel

3 min read

August 16, 2023
Events
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Nearly every recently developed car is now connected — with 97% of EVs equipped with embedded telematics — spearheading a new mobility ecosystem. Apps for EV charging, vehicle history reports, auto insurance, fleet management, and car sharing are just some of the industry verticals accelerating this shift in the transportation sector.

This month, we’re excited to share how Smartcar’s latest product updates will empower developers with on-hand, intuitive tools that streamline compatibility with new brands and endpoints.

📝 In this blog, we're diving into:

1. New brand coverage across North America & Europe 🌎

2. Expanded telematics compatibility for EVs

3. Customization of the developer & user experience


Want to watch our New at Smartcar Summer 2023 event for yourself? View the recording here.

New compatible brands. One API.

Smartcar integrates with some of the most popular vehicle brands across North America and Europe. Since 2022, we’ve expanded access to include:

🦅 United States: Kia, Nissa, Mazda, Infiniti, Porsche

🍁 Canada: Kia, Hyundai

⭐ Europe: Mercedes-Benz

Today, Smartcar is compatible with 36 brands across the globe, the largest in the industry. As of this product release, this means that Smartcar is able to connect to 161M+ connected vehicles.

Visit our compatibility page for a complete list of compatible models and their supported endpoints!

Expanding telematics capabilities

We’re continuing to expand support for electric vehicles with new endpoints that increase accessibility for developers. While Smartcar currently offers battery level, start/stop charge, charging status, and battery capacity endpoints, demand is growing.

We introduced our EV charge limit and EV set charge limit APIs this year to help apps verify a vehicle owner’s preferred EV charge limit and set thresholds during the charging session to preserve battery health.

Did you know that Smartcar is compatible with a total of 29 EV brands across the North America and Europe? This endpoint will aid in optimizing and understanding EV battery health, improving grid load, and quantifying how much energy is used to charge EVs.

🔋 EV endpoints

🪫EV charge limit: Retrieve the charge limit configuration for a vehicle.

🔌 EV set charge limit: Control the limit at which the vehicle should stop charging and be considered fully charged.

⚡ Tesla brand-specific endpoints

As we wait for OEMs to catch up with each other’s telematic capabilities, we decided to give developers access to information that’s already available, starting with Tesla.

📊 Vehicle status: view the current state of the vehicle (asleep or online), and what gear the car is in.

🚗 Extended vehicle attributes: learn more about the selected vehicle, including the software version, color, optional packages, etc.

❄️ Climate settings & control: provide additional controls for the vehicle’s climate, including cabin temperature, defrosting, and steering wheel heating.

These endpoints allow developers to explore and improve their user experience, and further personalize their offerings for each vehicle’s specific configuration. This information can also be used to see if changes impact battery performance.

Customize your user experience

The developer and user experience are equally important at Smartcar. As such, we’re proud to announce advancements in the developer dashboard to boost conversions and ensure connectivity.

💻 Developer experience

📋 Brand management: customize brands shown in Smartcar Connect.

📈 Brand rankings: rank brands shown in Connect based on popularity by region on the Smartcar platform.

The introduction of these endpoints aims to improve conversion rates for a majority of the applications on the platform. For example, developers can deselect older brands in the dashboard in order to improve visibility for brands known for supporting BEVs, or omit brands their app doesn’t support regardless of EV status.

📱 Mobility app experience

🗣️ New languages: autodetect and localize 10 different languages to display on Connect, using cookies and device settings.

📍 Brand selection: automatically personalize the Connect flow based on device location to improve brand curation, if a country flag is not set.

📲 Remember Me return flow: allows apps to remember a vehicle owner’s credentials through device-bound methods to reduce friction for second-time sign-in via return user flow.

Content localization and country selection based on location has been shown to reduce friction by 15% to Smartcar Connect. For users across Europe, this feature proves especially helpful.

New month, new updates ✨

70M+ connected vehicles will be shipped worldwide by the end of 2023. How will your business act on this opportunity? To remain at the forefront of industry news and Smartcar happenings, subscribe to our monthly newsletter (it’s free!).

If you’re new to Smartcar, schedule a demo to learn how Smartcar can benefit your application, or sign up for a free developer account to take our car API for a spin!

🔋 EV endpoints 🪫EV charge limit: the emoji/icon doesn't show and i don't know which one it is to replace it

Why we need specialized solutions — not Jack-of-All-Trades platforms — to succeed at DERMS

Sahas Katta

4 min read

August 8, 2023
Energy
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The distributed energy resource (DER) industry is working to modernize the grid with more connected software-based solutions. Utilities partner with distributed energy resource management system (DERMS) providers who specialize in managing consumer-owned DERs — that includes aggregating DERs, automating actions, engaging with customers, and equipping utilities with data for better operations and forecasting.

These DERMS software partner with Smartcar to leverage our unique expertise in standardizing EV integrations at scale. The relationship between Smartcar and DERMS allows each party to focus on doing what they do best, really well.

But some EV integration vendors are taking a different approach.

Instead of being a partner to DERMS providers, these vendors are encroaching into the energy industry as full-stack solutions that provide both backend integrations and utility-facing software.

We believe that this approach to the market is incorrect and in fact, slows down innovation in load flexibility. Capturing both ends of the market will stretch companies too thin, causing many details to slip through the cracks — unreliable integrations, unpolished consumer experiences, inefficient issue resolution, and erratic product roadmaps. You simply can’t go the distance in integrating with every EV out there while trying to partner with utilities and power their unique programs.

The energy ecosystem is most productive when players can prioritize their core competencies and come together to present complete solutions.

Utilities need dedicated engineering and energy expertise to scale a secure data infrastructure of customer-owned devices alongside strong customer-facing programs — but this is hard to do effectively with all-in-one platforms that build a little bit of everything.

With EVs, having a clear and consistent goal of building reliable integrations is necessary to overcome the lack of standardization in car APIs. When platforms choose to weave EVs into the grid as one of their multiple core offerings, it becomes harder to prioritize extensive coverage, reliability, security, and the vehicle owner experience.

Smartcar’s strategy is to empower DERMS providers with our expertise in building a connected car platform to manage loads from most EVs on the road today.

Purpose-driven solutions will bridge the technology gap.

A 2019 study by The Brattle Group found that smart technologies can enable residents to dominate the demand response market in the next ten years, allowing utilities to save over $15 billion in annual system costs with nearly 200 GW of load flexibility. However, 60% of this load flexibility capacity requires new technology solutions and incentives. This is where we’ve seen rapid growth in energy innovation over the last decade.

But the lack of standardization across devices, a volatile regulatory landscape, and growing soft costs deeply impact the momentum of grid modernization. A report by Energize Capital states that soft costs can account for 60% to 90% of the total cost for EV chargers, but purpose-driven software is helping equipment manufacturers and utilities reduce these costs through process efficiencies at scale.

The key to removing these bottlenecks lies in a partnership-driven ecosystem where all parties focus on their strengths and draw expertise from each other.

This approach is evident in the automotive space, for instance. At this year’s Automotive Elektronik Kongress (AEK), automakers discussed the need for OEMs to act as vertical integrators instead of full-stack players. BMW shared that less than 20% of software in their vehicles is coded in-house, while Nio said that their own developer resources only go to strategic focus areas like ADAS and Battery Management Systems.

DERMS and managed EV charging providers like Bidgely, AutoGrid, EV.Energy, and Rolling Energy Resources have the expertise to help utilities implement suitable distribution system technologies. Developer platforms like Smartcar can help organizations like this reduce the time and dollars spent on engineering tedious integrations with electric vehicles. In fact, we can maximize these cost reductions and ensure high-quality solutions with patented intellectual property that keeps everyone’s best interests in mind.

True partnerships drive innovation.

The DER space is what it is because of collaboration.

Utilities align themselves with regulators, policymakers, and program partners — whether that's OEMs, EV charging operators, or climate nonprofits and accelerators. Given the breadth of this ecosystem, what works for one program isn’t going to work for another. Customization and a nuanced understanding of the technologies at play are key.

Telematics is a relatively new technology for the utility space. There are many questions outside the feasibility of telematics, like brand-specific latencies, that programs need to consider as more device types and EV models emerge.

Working with a vendor specializing in technology that empowers you — and not competes against you — allows both parties to be transparent and agile. Workshopping tailor-made solutions to meet program objectives and stakeholder expectations becomes a step toward a joint goal. It’s a win-win.

At Smartcar, the relationships we’ve built in the industry add to the strength of our product. We support you with tools that help you communicate better with vehicle owners and prospective partners.

Smartcar is building the future of mobility — what exactly does that mean?

Smartcar provides standardized connected car integrations that are reliable and developer-friendly. This means we have a team of experts dedicated to future-proofing your program from an engineering and customer experience perspective.

Our platform for EV APIs gives DERMS providers and their utility partners a centralized set of integrations that allow applications to talk to over 28 EV brands and counting. But beyond that, we’re working to build a mobility ecosystem that’s ethical, open, and fueled by strong public and private relationships.

We empower developers with friendly API documentation and SDKs to integrate mobility apps with cars of any brand. Developer platforms do not facilitate the sale of customer data to others and neither does Smartcar.

We empower consumers by giving vehicle owners the choice to use their vehicle data for the apps and services that benefit them. We give consumers the right to review a specific set of permissions for each app and provide explicit consent before sharing that data. We believe that the best products do not come at the cost of consumer privacy.

From addressing climate change to improving transportation equity and boosting vehicle safety and comfort, creating innovative products and shaping new consumer habits are what mobility businesses do best. Smartcar is solely in the business of building a platform that allows innovators to make this happen.

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How Smartcar Connect makes it easier for developers to optimize user onboarding

Winona Rajamohan

5 min read

August 4, 2023
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

It’s easy to lose customers due to a poor user experience, even for household brand names. The popular social networking site MySpace quickly lost its users to Facebook thanks to the latter’s easy-to-learn interface and straightforward actions. British retail company Mark & Spencer lost over £50 million from a bad website redesign that led to inconvenient user logins and poor navigation.

For connected car apps, the stakes are even higher. Connecting your car to a third-party service calls for a lot of trust between drivers and service providers. If a confusing website is enough to drive customers away, imagine the impression you could leave on vehicle owners with a slow and unreliable vehicle onboarding process.

Would your users feel confident in your solution? Or will they drop off your onboarding flow before they even use the innovative features you’ve spent all your time building?

Building apps for cars without the right developer tools is difficult. Businesses have to think about:

  • The product they’re introducing to the market.
  • The vehicle integrations bridging apps to users.
  • A user experience that motivates drivers to connect an app to one of their most expensive purchases, their car.

At Smartcar, we know how important it is for mobility businesses to support their developers in creating user-centric product journeys that work effectively for all supported car makes and models. That’s why we built the Smartcar Connect user consent flow to give developers more control over their user onboarding flow without adding to their technical workload.

🧐 What is Smartcar Connect?

Smartcar Connect is the fastest and most transparent way to collect user consent before an app makes an API request to a car.

👉 Read more to learn about the benefits of Smartcar Connect for mobility apps

Convert more sign-ups into active users.

Getting users to download a new vehicle app or create a new account with your platform is only a tiny portion of the battle.

The mobility space is growing rapidly, and everyone is trying something new. Over 120 billion venture capital dollars went to mobility tech in the first quarter of 2022 across sectors like autonomous driving software, electric vehicles, and ride-hailing. There’s more competition now than ever before to win over vehicle owners and edge out others in the market with innovative new solutions and high-quality experiences.

If your users find the vehicle onboarding process too confusing or inconvenient, they’ll become increasingly doubtful of your capabilities to provide a reliable service. These feelings of uncertainty can quickly surface if vehicle owners run into...

🙅 Redundant steps in the onboarding journey

🙅 Unclear communication about the app’s vehicle eligibility and data-sharing requirements

🙅 Difficulty navigating through the onboarding process and figuring out what to do next

On top of Smartcar Connect’s core functionality of streamlining the collection of user content across all 36 of our compatible brands, we also released new features within the flow that makes it easier for developers to accelerate the process of users logging into their connected services account:

Brand Management

Developers can customize the Smartcar Connect brand selector only to show the brands they want to support. For example, DERMS providers can limit the brand selector to only include vehicle makes with supported EVs, while car sharing operators show brands that support the lock and unlock functionality.

Brand Rankings

Developers can now choose to rank brands by popularity in addition to sorting them alphabetically during the vehicle onboarding process! This feature ranks the most popular brands on the Smartcar platform for mobility businesses onboarding both gas-powered vehicles and EVs. Brand Ranking makes it easier for a majority of customers for auto insurance, car sharing, fleet management, and roadside assistance apps to connect their cars via Smartcar.  A test release of this feature showed a relative 12% improvement in conversion rates for apps in these industries.

Remember Me return flow

Smartcar Connect now automatically signs a vehicle owner into their connected services account if they’ve already used the credentials to sign into the Connect flow on another app. Early data from the launch of this feature shows a 51% conversion rate for users who use the Remember Me return flow to log in to a second or third Smartcar-powered app.

Before we released these three features, developers would have to manually build these customizations and advanced user flows into their Smartcar Connect integration. This introduces additional developer work that businesses may forgo to make way higher-priority product developments — at the risk of lower conversion rates.

Deliver an intuitive user experience.

In May of this year, Smartcar surveyed 110 vehicle owners in the US about their experience with their connected car services. We discovered that 36% of respondents found their automaker’s connected services application challenging to use while 38% are inclined to use third-party connected car apps because they’re more user-friendly.

  • Brand select: Used by apps that are only compatible with a specific brand and want to simplify onboarding by automatically skipping the “Select your brand” step in Smartcar Connect.
  • Single Select: Used by apps looking to condense their onboarding flow and ensure complete accuracy by giving customers a clear path to link a specific vehicle to the app.  
  • Compatibility API: Used by apps that want to reduce user frustration and support queries by including a VIN-based compatibility check into the onboarding infrastructure to ensure the app is connected to only Smartcar-supported vehicles.

Empowering developers with holistic tools to build better mobility apps

Smartcar’s developer platform is designed to help mobility businesses offload as much work as possible regarding vehicle integrations. For us, that also includes the process of connecting drivers to your platform in a secure, ethical, and convenient way.

With Smartcar Connect’s customization features, we hope to empower mobility businesses with a user-centric experience that leads to higher conversions and more engaged customers. Check out our integration guide to learn how to integrate your mobile and web apps with Smartcar Connect.

To learn more about Smartcar Connect, you can take a look at these resources:


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar.

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How ANYMOVE built a fast and reliable shared mobility platform with Smartcar's API

Winona Rajamohan

5 min read

August 1, 2023
Car sharing
Customer story
Live SiteStaging Site

ANYMOVE is a community of vehicle operators that aims to give people access to sustainable, shared mobility. Based in Germany, the ANYMOVE technology platform integrated with Smartcar to enable an effortless experience for individuals and businesses to rent and manage shared vehicles.

At a glance

🚧 Problem: ANYMOVE wanted to replace its previous vehicle integration solution that was prone to technical errors for renters and operators.

💡 Solution: Smartcar helped ANYMOVE maintain the reliability of their platform and remote lock and unlock capabilities without stretching the team's technical bandwidth.

📈 Results: By integrating with Smartcar, ANYMOVE saw a big decrease in connectivity issues when users remotely unlock rented vehicles.


What contributes to sustainable mobility? Electrification, carbon-free modes of transport, and a shift away from vehicle ownership.

Although EVs produce 50% less emissions than gas-powered vehicles over the first 150,000 miles, it still isn’t enough for transportation sectors around the world to meet decarbonization goals.

In countries like the US and the UK, cars are parked over 95 percent of the time. This contributes to unnecessary emissions from the manufacturing of vehicles — which is a very carbon-intensive process — only for the average individual to use it 6 hours a week.

But what would happen if multiple riders shared one vehicle throughout the week for their short trips? You guessed it: Fewer cars on the road. One study found that shared vehicles can decrease our cumulative carbon footprint by over 40% by 2050.  

That’s where technology solutions like ANYMOVE come in.

From vehicle ‘ownership’ to vehicle ‘usership’

ANYMOVE aims to build a future where cars are better utilized and made accessible for consumers through an easy-to-use digital rental experience.

Their solution currently provides rental vehicles in eight cities in Germany and allows individuals to rent vehicles located within close proximity to where they are. This allows users to travel to their destination with the same level of convenience they would get with a personally owned vehicle. The platform also has features to schedule rides and deliver rental vehicles to a rider’s doorstep.

In addition, fleet operators or individual vehicle owners can use the operating system (ANYMOVE OS)  to rent out and manage their vehicles effortlessly — for hours, days, or months. Renters can choose from a wide range of available vehicles thanks to the diversity of fleets on the platform.

All rental operations are managed within ANYMOVE OS + app, so renters don’t have to visit a physical branch or meet vehicle hosts in-person to get car keys. With the help of Smartcar’s APIs, ANYMOVE can scale these software-only capabilities with its platform.


After talking to other rental operators, we saw that Smartcar was the most loved telematics solution because it’s simple, fast, and flexible.

— Julian Schildknecht, Head of Brand and Growth at ANYMOVE


Simplifying shared mobility with car APIs

For ANYMOVE’s own rental fleet, it was important to build a user-friendly experience that gives commuters the flexibility to find an available vehicle wherever they are, whenever they need it. To enable fast and 24/7 service, the platform requires accurate data and stable connections with as many vehicles as possible.

But building these integrations from scratch is a big lift for any mobility business. At first, ANYMOVE integrated with vehicles in their fleet using an in-house solution. However, maintaining the quality of these custom integrations to avoid errors and inconsistencies, on top of maintaining the ANYMOVE platform itself, proved to be challenging.

So, the team decided to look for a car API provider that could equip the platform with the technical resources necessary to reduce car connectivity errors without taking engineering resources away from their core product.

“We considered integrating the Tesla API directly as Tesla is one of the biggest OEMs in our fleet,” Julian adds. “In the end, we decided on integrating Smartcar as it offered wide connectivity and strong technical foundations.”

ANYMOVE retrieves timely telemetry data with the following Smartcar APIs to enable a smooth and seamless user experience for both vehicle renters and hosts:

📍Location: Locate cars within walking distance from where renters are.

🔓Lock and unlock: Share digital car keys with renters to allow 24/7 bookings.

🛣 Odometer: Set accurate rental fees with mileage data before and after trips.

🔋 State of charge: Ensure that cars have enough range for each trip.

⛽ Fuel level: Check if a car has enough gas for each trip.

Building a reliable software-only solution

For ANYMOVE, the reliability of their platform is dependent on their users’ ability to find and access vehicles in a timely manner.

“The metrics we look at for supporting cars on the app are if it’s possible to connect to the EV, how reliable is the data, and how fast can we open and close the car doors,” says Tom Packebusch, Head of Product at ANYMOVE. “You don’t want to have a user wait 30 seconds just to unlock the car.”

With the help of Smartcar’s API, the team saw a big decrease in connectivity issues when users lock and unlock rental vehicles. “We were able to massively improve our user experience for our customers and see huge savings in time for our Customer Support team,” Julian says.

How ANYMOVE evaluated Smartcar as their car API platform

✅ Vehicle brand coverage

ANYMOVE benchmarked Smartcar’s compatible car brands and models to their existing fleet and future roadmap. With a single integration, Smartcar supports lock and unlock capabilities across 300 distinct vehicle models in Europe.

🔑 Availability of APIs

Smartcar gives ANYMOVE access to a range of standardized APIs critical to their application's functionality, like lock and unlock, location, odometer readings, and EV battery level..

🧰 Reliability of platform

ANYMOVE sought an API provider with a strong technical foundation to ensure fast customer bookings and fewer errors when connecting to shared or rental vehicles. ANYMOVE can get accurate and timely data using Smartcar’s API and work with a team of dedicated API experts to resolve challenges.


Smartcar has enabled us to seamlessly integrate additional car models and distinguishes itself as an efficient solution without the need for added hardware.

—Julian Schildknecht, Head of Brand and Growth at ANYMOVE


Advancing shared mobility with powerful app-based experiences

Car ownership isn’t the optimal choice for everyone — but that shouldn’t eliminate an option for hassle-free travel.

ANYMOVE’s rental software and platform for operators is an important step toward making shared mobility reliable, accessible, and purely digital for everyday commuters. Smartcar is proud to work with ANYMOVE to enable on-demand travel and give rental operators a convenient way to make their fleets available for app-based bookings.

“As a rental operator, we love that we can provide an ideal user experience with Smartcar’s solution,” says Julian. “But we love using the API even more because of its important role in helping us scale our efforts to help other operators utilize our software.”

You can learn more about ANYMOVE and download their app by visiting their website.


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar or ANYMOVE.

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What are connected services?

Winona Rajamohan

6 min read

July 30, 2023
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

If you have a relatively new car (2015 or newer), you might have heard of—or might already be using—your car manufacturer’s connected services app.  By 2030, researchers expect 96% of new vehicles worldwide to be shipped as connected cars with built-in internet connectivity and access to connected services.

Drivers use connected services today to get more control and visibility over vehicle management, safety, and on-demand functions like seat heating, activating air conditioning, and extending battery ranges. As connected services differ from car brand to car brand, it can be confusing to know what connected services are and how to sign up for them.

This blog post gives you a quick overview of everything you need to know about the benefits of connected services, how pricing differs across automakers, and the role connected services play in our mobility ecosystem.

But first...what is a connected car?

A connected car is a vehicle shipped with a built-in 3G, 4G, or 5G cellular modem right from the factory. This allows it to communicate with apps and services — similar to how a smartphone would. Each car manufacturer develops its own connected services account. This lets drivers access vehicle information from a mobile app that communicates with the car’s embedded cellular modem.

What are connected services?

A connected services account lets drivers remotely monitor and control a vehicle using the vehicle manufacturer’s mobile app. For example, you can use this connected services app to see your car’s location directly on your phone, check its mileage, lock and unlock the doors, and preheat the battery. You can also use it to get notified as soon as you run low on gas or see your electric car’s battery level and remotely start and stop charging it.

Vehicle telemetry is sent to an automaker's connected services application through software-based cellular communication.

What is a connected services app?

As each car manufacturer offers its own connected services account with a dedicated mobile app, functionalities differ from car brand to car brand. Some automakers have apps named after their brand, while others have distinct names for their app.

For example, the Toyota connected service app is called Toyota Connected Services while Ford's app is called FordPass.

The easiest way to learn about the features your car brand offers is by visiting their website. Smartcar also has resources to help vehicle owners set up their connected services account if their vehicle is compatible with Smartcar. You can also keep reading for a complete list of connected services pricing for all Smartcar-compatible brands.

How do connected services help vehicle owners?

A shift in consumer expectations drives the growth of the connected car market. Connected services subscriptions add value to the driver experience by giving vehicle owners an easier way to personalize their in-vehicle environment, remote start their car, use a digital key to unlock car doors, access advanced navigation and road safety features, and connect vehicles to infotainment systems and third-party mobility apps.

Although the price of connected services remains the biggest reason why drivers don’t activate their connected services, over 80% of drivers surveyed by S&P Global Mobility say they would consider purchasing connected services subscriptions for their future vehicles.

How do connected services work?

Connected services capabilities are powered by technology that allows cars to connect to the internet — hence being known as connected cars. Like a smartphone, a connected car has a cellular modem built into it right from the factory. This modem lets the car connect to the cellular network and communicate with other internet-connected devices such as mobile phones.

With this internet connectivity, you can use your car manufacturer’s connected services app to look at your vehicle telemetry data, including your car’s location, odometer reading, fuel tank level or EV battery level, tire pressure, and engine oil life.

How to set up your connected services account

To be eligible for a connected services account, your car needs to be connected. Being “connected” simply means that your vehicle has a cellular modem built-in that allows it to connect to the internet.

Each car manufacturer has a different process for setting up your connected services account. For some car brands like Tesla, you receive your account credentials right when purchasing your vehicle. For other brands, setting up your connected services account might take up to 15 minutes and involve getting inside your car to press a button or use your car’s infotainment screen.

Your vehicle might still be connected even if you don’t yet have your connected services account set up. Head to connectyourcar.com to check whether your car is eligible and to get step-by-step instructions on setting up your connected services account. If your car brand is not included on connectyourcar.com, check your car brand’s website or call them to ask whether your car is eligible.

Is my automaker’s connected services free?

It depends on your car brand!

Some automakers offer their connected services account for free, while others charge you. Most of them provide initial free trials. Here’s a list of connected services information for all brands compatible with Smartcar (you can get more information from connectyourcar.com).

Automaker

Connected services

Price

Acura AcuraLink $159 per year
Audi myAudi No cost
BMW My BMW $50 per year + 3 months free
Buick myBuick $14.99 per month + 3-month free trial
Cadillac myCadillac $14.99 per month + 3 months free
Chevrolet myChevrolet $14.99 per month + 3 months free
Chrysler, Dodge, Ram UConnect $149.99 per month + 3 months free
Citroën My Citroën No cost
Ford FordPass No cost
GMC myGMC $14.99 per month + 3 months free
Hyundai MyHyundai $99 per year + 3 years free
Infiniti myINFINITI $12.99 per month + 12 months free
Jaguar Jaguar Remote $99 per year + 3 years free
Jeep UConnect, JeepConnect $149.99 per year
Kia Kia Connect, Kia Access Free for 7 years
Land Rover Land Rover Remote $99 per year + 3 years free
Lexus Lexus Enform $80 per year + 1 year free
Lincoln Lincoln Way No cost
MINI MINI Connected $50 per year
Mazda MyMazda 3 years free
Mercedes MeConnect 1 year free
Nissan NissanConnect $12.99 per year + 6 months free
Opel myOpel No cost
Peugeot MyPeugeot No cost
Porsche My Porsche $155 per year + 1 year free
Rivian Rivian No cost
Renault My Renault No cost
Skoda MyŠKODA €60 for CareConnect: Remote Access, €70 for Infotainment Online
Tesla Tesla Free for Standard Connectivity
Toyota Toyota Connected Services $80 per year + 1 year free
Vauxhall myVauxhall No cost
Volkswagen MyVW $199 per year/$378 for 2 years/$540 for 3 years + 5 years free
Volvo Volvo Cars $200 per year + 3 years free


How many drivers use connected services?

Researchers estimate that 66% of drivers in the United States use their connected services capabilities.

Connected cars are becoming the standard for any newer vehicle. By 2030, 96% of all new vehicles shipped worldwide will be connected — with 400 million connected vehicles on the road by 2025. Automakers today incentivize ownership of a connected vehicle by giving drivers access to features that can only be customized and enabled through a connected services application, such as:

  • Enhanced roadside assistance features
  • Emergency assistance button and SOS calls
  • Stolen vehicle recovery
  • Vehicle health report
  • Collision notifications
  • Maintenance reminders
  • Wi Fi hotspot
  • Integrated streaming
  • Audio multimedia capabilities (like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and other music subscription services)
  • Integrations with smart devices like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and smartwatches

But despite these advanced features, many drivers are still unsatisfied with their connected services experience. According S&P Mobility and a 2023 survey by Smartcar, drivers are frustrated because of the price of connected services, a lack of education on how to use and maximize these features, and mobile applications that are not user-friendly. In fact, 26% of consumers don’t know if their automaker has connected services.

Source: Smartcar's 2023 State of Connected Car Apps report

Maximizing the impact of connected services

The benefits of connected services are clear.

Automakers have done an excellent job at modernizing the vehicle experience and empowering drivers with access to vehicle telematics without any aftermarket hardware. But there are gaps in the software experience that cannot be tackled alone.

Drivers don’t just want to use vehicle telematics for on-demand vehicle services. They want to integrate their vehicles easily and securely into day-to-day activities and existing services without compromising personal information.

From car sharing apps like Turo to EV charging solutions like Optiwatt and predictive maintenance services like Bumper, automakers can provide added value for customers by having connected services unlock access to third-party apps and services beyond an automaker’s realm of expertise.

Smartcar is excited about a future of mobility where we can facilitate stronger relationships between automakers and third-party innovators. Collaboration within an open mobility ecosystem gives automakers the benefit of more engineering resources and niche expertise to dedicate toward the development of apps that appeal to customer demand — which in turn leads to more connected services subscriptions, higher driver satisfaction, and more vehicle sales.

Learn how Smartcar can help automakers build powerful digital experiences that prioritize the convenience and privacy of vehicle owners.


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar.

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How mobility apps streamline vehicle onboarding with Smartcar Connect

Winona Rajamohan

5 min read

July 24, 2023
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

Businesses use Smartcar Connect to give their customers more control of their connected vehicles. Learn how we help mobility apps onboard more users by accelerating development, delivering easy-to-use experiences, and providing a flexible platform to scale.

Connected cars are redefining the expectations of future car buyers.

The “software-defined dream car”, as called out by Boston Consulting Group, is more than just a vehicle. It’s a personal, accessible, and secure digital experience on wheels.

But there are roadblocks to creating this dream experience. For mobility businesses, this starts with the heavy cost and effort of building and maintaining unique integrations with different car brands.

At Smartcar, we give businesses an easier way to build the future of mobility. For companies like Recurrent — a platform that monitors EV battery performance ― this led to millions of engineering dollars saved and a 6 to 12-month headstart on taking their business to market.

All this starts with Smartcar Connect, a pre-built user consent flow that enables your application to connect with a compatible vehicle. Here’s how the Smartcar Connect flow unlocks doors (see what we did there😉) for mobility applications to onboard more vehicles with a quick, secure, and intuitive user experience.

A simpler point of entry to connect to any car

We kept the developer experience top of mind so our customers can confidently integrate user consent in their applications with minimal guidance and development effort. Smartcar Connect keeps user onboarding flows consistent and straightforward across all 36 of our compatible brands worldwide. When developers use our integration guide to adopt Smartcar Connect into their application, they’re getting access to these pre-built elements:

  • A user onboarding flow built in compliance with the OAuth2 authorization protocol
  • Elegant and professional UI that allows vehicle owners to link their car to an app in a few clicks
  • Onboarding customization features that developers can toggle to speed up onboarding
  • Content localization for vehicle owners in different countries or who speak different languages

Developers don’t have to adopt a fragmented approach to building user onboarding flows for each vehicle brand. Smartcar Connect adapts to different web or mobile application structures so businesses can connect to all of Smartcar’s compatible brands with a single unified integration.

On top of that, all updates to the Smartcar API — whether it’s a new endpoint or vehicle make and model — are automatically reflected in the Connect flow. This means no additional developer work and code changes in your app architecture to maintain Smartcar Connect once it’s been integrated.

Helping developers put drivers first

We designed our user authorization flow to provide a clear, informative and visually appealing experience for any user. Although Smartcar Connect is the only touchpoint a vehicle owner has with Smartcar, it’s also an incredibly important one. A user may choose not to connect their vehicle to an app because:

🤔 They don't know if their vehicle is a connected car
🔐 They have concerns about data privacy
⚙  The instructions are hard to understand

The Smartcar Connect flow was thoughtfully implemented to avoid these obstacles during the onboarding process,

The Connect flow kicks off with three simple steps: 1) select a car brand, 2) sign in, and 3) give consent.

But we make sure that simpler connectivity doesn’t mean compromised security. User data is collected in compliance with the OAuth2 authorization protocol and is SSL encrypted. Smartcar has also embedded a Privacy Policy collection within the flow, giving developers one less thing to worry about when building an application’s user interface.

An intuitive journey for vehicle owners

Converting vehicle owners into active users is a big obstacle for mobility apps. That’s why we have dedicated engineering resources to build features that help you elevate your user’s experience when they connect their cars to your app.

We analyzed common user behavior to design concise interfaces that users can understand at a glance. This included creating paths for users unsure of vehicle compatibility, instructions for those without a connected car account, and secure login flows for 1-click logins, 2FA and PIN support, and password resets. And it’s all optimized to look great on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.

When it comes to collecting user consent, Smartcar gives vehicle owners complete transparency about the data they share with an application.  All permissions are displayed right in the Smartcar Connect flow for users to review before their vehicle is connected. We believe that this is a critical feature for helping apps earn the trust of drivers.

In fact, we’re seeing more vehicle owners confidently onboarding their cars to apps that use Smartcar’s consent-based flow. The number of vehicle owners connecting their cars to more than one Smartcar-powered mobility app increases monthly.

Smartcar Connect makes it easier for vehicle owners to onboard vehicles across all Smartcar-powered apps.
The number of vehicle owners connecting to two or more apps built with Smartcar’s API.

The growing number of vehicle owners using multiple Smartcar-powered apps highlighted the need for us to invest even more in our customer’s onboarding experience.

We launched a return user flow in Smartcar Connect that remembers a vehicle owner’s credentials if they have already logged in to any app built with Smartcar! If a driver has previously signed into a different app via Smartcar, they won’t have to log into their connected services account all over again. Instead, their Connect flow is streamlined into a single step in which they view and consent to the data permissions requested by the app they’re now logging into.

Personalized app experience for targeted markets

Whether it’s to help electric grids monitor EV charging or verify vehicle mileage for road usage charge, Smartcar Connect is used across different industries, use cases, and locations.

Here’s how businesses can use Smartcar Connect to improve user experience for their customers:

  • Compatibility API: Verify a vehicle’s eligibility for an app before bringing users through the consent flow.
  • Brand Select: Skips car brand selection screen to speed up onboarding
  • Single Select: Skips car brand selection screen and limits users to connect to vehicles with a specific VIN
  • Advanced vehicle selection: Gives users the ability to unselect vehicles, select multiple vehicles at once, or select only one vehicle to authorize on an app
  • Content localization: Follows the geolocation of a user’s device and gives vehicle owners the option to select one out of ten languages

Our getting started guide has more recommendations on how to best launch Smartcar Connect in your app’s user journey.

Better integrations for a bigger competitive edge

We hope this gives you a deeper look into how Smartcar Connect helps businesses spend less time developing custom integrations and more time building the future of mobility. Read our customer stories to learn how mobility apps across industries stay competitive by implementing our authorization flow to accelerate scalability.

Looking for simpler connectivity, smooth user journeys, and personalized onboarding experiences? Schedule a demo and discover how Smartcar can help you.

 


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar.

" ⚙  The instructions are hard to understand " is that the real emoji/icon ? the other 2 look different

Mobility Reimagined: What we learned at MOVE London 2023

Erica Bickel

4 min read

July 18, 2023
Events
Live SiteStaging Site

From June 21-22, Smartcar’s team of experts joined over 10,000 attendees for two jam-packed days of inspiring keynotes, engaging sessions, and interactive exhibits at MOVE London 2023. As the world’s most popular urban mobility event, speakers, participants, and industry leaders alike converged to discuss relevant mobility challenges and promote the latest technology created to meet the needs of today’s commuters.

With sustainability top of mind, visionary companies from around the globe presented their solutions for safer, smarter, and more equitable transportation. From insurance to fleet management to autonomous driving, our team left the conference refreshed and excited for the years ahead.

 


It was energizing to be in London, meeting startups and incumbents as they build the future of mobility with software.

— Sahas Katta, CEO & Founder at Smartcar


 

Key insights from MOVE London 2023 💂

💵 1. Simplifying pay-per-mile insurance operations.

🚗 2. Centralizing fleet management systems.

🤝 3. Streamlining peer-to-peer car sharing processes.

Let’s dive in!

Simplifying pay-per-mile insurance operations

The risk management space, described as the “gatekeeper of innovation” by one exhibitor, has been presented with the unique opportunity of insuring experimental business models and aiding scalability for a host of up-and-coming startups. To solve the mobility needs of a growing population, the auto insurance industry must keep up with such innovators pioneering transportation for both end consumers and their accompanying liaison corporations. As a generally slow-to-adopt, risk-averse trade, thought leaders predict that businesses offering more niche, tailored services will propel the industry forward. One such policy? Pay-per-mile insurance — although not new in concept, the program is rising in popularity due to increased premiums for EVs and hybrid vehicles.

Just Auto Insurance offers affordable and prepaid liability car insurance, all within its mobile app. Similar to other usage-based insurance companies, Just Auto Insurance charges customers based on their mileage and driving habits, with lower rates offered for improved driving habits. To provide this service, the company uses Smartcar’s car API to increase customer convenience, lower underwriting costs, and reduce premium leakage.

Centralizing fleet management systems

Participants at the conference concurred that electromobility, advancements in battery health, and recently-developed fleet management software will continue to gain adoption as the Western world shifts to more sustainable solutions for mass transportation. Today, in the United States, we can already see this switch through the deployment of electric buses in major metropolitan areas.

Yet pivoting from a traditional caravan to a wireless, hardware-free fleet (especially EVs) poses a challenge for even the largest enterprises. To address this need, organizations like Coastr are disrupting the automation and digital transformation of fleet management. By using Smartcar’s APIs to understand how these vehicles are being used, Coastr can tailor its solution to better support all-in-one rental services. This information allows mobility operators to maximize their offerings to the end user — utilizing keyless entry, making bookings, and more. As an added bonus, the platform also grants operators the power to see each vehicle/user’s CO2 emissions, thus becoming more cognizant of their respective carbon footprint.

Streamlining peer-to-peer car sharing processes

Peer-to-peer car sharing presents another opportunity for companies to make a lasting, “green” impact on the mobility space. To achieve climate targets, MOVE organizers predict that city governments will accelerate the industry’s growth, with the market for car sharing expected to grow by 20%. After all, peer-to-peer car sharing boasts tangible, positive results on parking pressure and expected traffic load. With an increased focus on profitability and new, long-term rental periods, “shared mobility” will not only become more sustainable, but accessible to the masses.

Ridecell, an end-to-end car sharing solution, uses connected car data via Smartcar to manage its fleet transformation cloud. This smarter utilization of resources pushes the shared mobility sector forward with efficient, integrated control of assets. For individual managers or end users, Turo promotes quick, 1:1 car sharing with contactless features like lock/unlock.

Powering the next generation of connected car services

As first-year exhibitors, we left MOVE London inspired by all of the new insights, startups, and products shaking up the mobility industry. Our vehicle APIs power many of the standout developments we saw at the conference, and we’re proud of the work our partners have completed. We’re looking forward to continuing to help our customers build and scale their mobility businesses.

We hope to see you at MOVE: Reimagined America September 26-27 in Austin, Texas. To get a jump start on the conference, schedule a meeting with us to get started.

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How BluWave-ai uses Smartcar’s APIs to bring intelligent EV charging to the masses

Erica Bickel

4 min read

July 6, 2023
Customer story
Energy
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BluWave-ai is artificial intelligence for clean energy. Formed around the goal of bringing AI, edge computing, and cloud supercomputing to the world of distributed renewable energy, BluWave-ai aims to drive the transition from a centralized, carbon-based energy model to an open market — where it can be produced and efficiently consumed by anyone, anywhere.

Faced with the challenge of incorporating electric vehicles into the smart grid, BluWave-ai turned to Smartcar for quick integration of leading EV brands, and streamlined data aggregation through a vehicle API.

At a glance

🚧 Problem: To support sustainable energy solutions in the transportation and power distribution sectors, BluWave-ai needed a way to access necessary vehicle data for optimized EV charging.

💡 Solution: Smartcar allows BluWave-ai to scale by eliminating the need for direct integration with multiple EV charging hardware systems.

📈 Results: BluWave-ai’s EV Everywhere SaaS product is available for power distribution utilities and system operators. Augmented by Smartcar’s APIs, the company is taking the product worldwide.


Power output from popular renewable energy sources like wind and solar tends to fluctuate, making it difficult for operators to manage and balance efficiently with demand. Met with operational and capital expenditure challenges of replacing traditional gas-powered cars with an electric fleet, operators in the transportation industry often struggle to make the most of their EVs. As consumers are also switching from fossil-fueled personal vehicles to EVs, electric utilities are faced with challenges supplying the increasing demand from home-based chargers.

Empowering intelligent scheduling & load balancing

To combat this relevant issue of electrification, BluWave-ai’s grid energy optimization platform balances the cost, availability, and impact of multiple energy sources. It calculates the most efficient source for the needs of both individual customers and providers in real-time. Built on this platform, the company’s flagship product for electric utilities, EV Everywhere, incorporates variables like load prediction, renewable generation prediction, EV charging demand prediction, and fast AI execution capabilities to send automated, load-balancing signals to grid hardware. Over time, AI models running on EV Everywhere learn and optimize its operations, adapting to system changes, and shifting or regulating EV charging to match needs.

On the consumer end, users receive notifications via a mobile app to opt-in to charging times and opportunities, special programs, incentives, and more. This directly benefits both parties through lower energy bills and reliable charging.


We chose Smartcar’s vehicle APIs to augment our EV Everywhere product capabilities, advancing our mission of promoting sustainable energy solutions for the energy and transportation sectors.

— Devashish Paul, CEO, BluWave-ai


Bridging the hardware/software gap

Obtaining vehicle data entails a host of manual hardware (OBD dongles, EV chargers, etc.) that would need to be individually programmed and fine-tuned. Integrating different makes and models for hundreds of EV chargers, not all of which are connected to the internet or OCPP (open charge point protocol) compatible, proved burdensome and increasingly expensive for BluWave-ai. Additionally, the varying specifications, protocols, and compatibility issues that come with each charger made the process even more time-consuming, resource-intensive, and ultimately unfit for BluWave-ai’s expansive goals.

To solve the challenge of vehicle integrations, BluWave-ai selected Smartcar for its extensive list of compatible EV brands, seamless onboarding, and breadth of API documentation. This allowed BluWave-ai to focus on more value-added features like refining the organization’s grid energy optimizers and streamlining the EV charging control solution.

How BluWave-ai evaluated Smartcar as their EV API platform

🔋 EV brand coverage

Smartcar is compatible with over 100 different EV models across 25 brands, making it easy to scale and grow BluWave-ai’s EV Everywhere solution.

🤝 Customer support

Smartcar’s dedicated customer success team and reliable technical support are available to help through email, phone, or live chat.

🧰 Comprehensive API platform

Developers work with a clear and detailed set of resources, including easy-to-use APIs, SDKs, and a powerful self-service dashboard.


[Smartcar’s] expertise in API integration, with the wide-ranging fleet of electric vehicles on the road will help accelerate scaling out our EV Everywhere product line for power utilities and system operators worldwide.

— Devashish Paul, CEO, BluWave-ai


Accelerating the adoption of EVs in the smart grid

Today, EV Everywhere acts as an automated liaison between individual EV owners and their corresponding utilities. The transition to higher EV penetration is made simpler by offloading active managed charging from utilities. The platform smooths peaks in the system with intelligent scheduling of EV charging and available battery energy storage. Through continued use, EV Everywhere learns local trends, tracks changes, and makes predictions for both day-ahead and same-day grid usage. This software-only and non-wires alternative (NWA) solution gives utility operators visibility into system status and real-time grid power flow, hence deferring and reducing the need for pricy capital infrastructure upgrades.

BluWave-ai remains focused on enhancing the EV owner experience through Smartcar’s API endpoints, providing seamless connectivity to a wide range of EVs. Using this comprehensive approach, BluWave-ai seeks to reach a broader audience, prompting more EV owners to participate in utility programs and collaborate with grid operations. In this way, BluWave-ai promotes sustainable energy management and contributes to a more sustainable future.

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How to measure EV battery level with Smartcar’s APIs

Erica Bickel

4 min read

June 20, 2023
EV charging
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Electric vehicle sales are on the rise, comprising over 5% of total U.S. car sales in 2021. By 2030, S&P Global Mobility predicts electric vehicle sales to surpass 40% of all total passenger car sales nationally. These optimistic statistics are encouraging for proponents of renewable energy, and as coming bills and regulations advance these topics, the industry is sure to see significant growth. In 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocated $7.5 billion for the construction of a nationwide charging network, and with it, a large investment to improve the nation’s power grid. This, coupled with increased consumer tax credits for EV ownership and further automaker buy-in, propels larger adoption.

But the transition to electric vehicles is not without challenges. Outside of cost, range anxiety (the fear of running out of charge mid-trip), remains prevalent for both owners and non-owners alike. As the U.S. hurries to expand access to charging stations and provide the infrastructure needed for such a move, there is one thing consumers can do to ease their anxieties — monitoring their EV’s battery level to maximize electric vehicle performance.

Methods of measurement: Traditional Services vs. Smartcar

Traditional methods of measurement include a host of physical tools and services. Consumers themselves can purchase an electric vehicle validation test (commonly referred to as a “battery health” test) from a local provider, buy a physical battery degradation charging tool, or request a report directly from the car’s manufacturer. To avoid additional costs, many electric vehicle owners estimate this figure themselves by verifying the total available range post-charge and monitoring this number for changes. Of course, this estimation method isn’t particularly reliable, and does not offer a detailed, comprehensive analysis of battery level or charge capacity. With few accurate, alternative options, it makes sense that consumers often turn to individual apps — or avoid this issue altogether.

But instead of diverting developer resources, standardizing a vast amount of vehicle data, and assuring enterprise-grade security compliance to build this solution from the ground up, why not use Smartcar’s car API platform? In just a few clicks, end-users can read their electric vehicle’s battery levels and total charge capacity, ensuring optimal performance for the years to come.

With a variety of compatible makes and models, Smartcar’s APIs give third-party applications the data security and installation efficiency they need to build comprehensive, easy-to-use apps for EV owners. By centralizing these capabilities via a powerful self-service dashboard, users can measure and record battery levels and overall usage quickly.

Why your company should use Smartcar as your API platform

😍 Ease of use

Smartcar’s solution is fast and easy to install, and your customers will appreciate its hardware-free attributes.

🔒 Data security

Unlike many third-party apps or API platforms, Smartcar offers SOC Type 2 compliance, and data encryption, and undergoes rigorous annual pen testing.

🚗 Brand coverage

Smartcar is compatible with over 100 different electric vehicle models across 25 brands in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

How to use Smartcar’s EV battery APIs

Recurrent makes it easy to buy, sell, and drive electric vehicles. One of its most important features? Creating battery reports for electric cars to determine average performance — because when it comes time to sell, good batteries are worth more. In order to train the company’s proprietary predictive algorithm to generate its battery condition reports, Recurrent used Smartcar’s APIs to retrieve both vehicle and EV battery information from subscribers who signed up for monthly battery reports. After vehicle owners consented to just four permissions, Recurrent could then monitor each customer vehicle’s mileage, range estimates, state of charge, and charging status.

Smartcar’s APIs for electric vehicles

🪫 Battery level: Retrieve the state of charge and the remaining range from a battery electric vehicle (BEV) or a plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV).

🔋 Battery capacity: Know the capacity of an electric vehicle’s battery.

🔌 Charging status: Check whether an EV’s charging cable is plugged in and charging.

⚡ Start or stop charge: Remotely start or stop charging a BEV or PHEV.

✅ EV charge limit: Preserve battery health by managing charge limits for electric vehicles.


On the other hand, DERMS providers and virtual power plant software use Smartcar's EV battery APIs to predict charging behavior, incentivize customer behavior, and shift charging loads. Amp X uses Smartcar’s EV battery APIs to communicate directly with electric vehicles for proactive, managed charging. To cover the widest possible user base of EV drivers spread across different vehicle brands and models, Amp X utilizes Smartcar’s platform to retrieve timely vehicle telematics data from its customers, powering its smart charging application.

Eliminate range anxiety

Smartcar’s API endpoints empower developers to build “smart route planning” tools, for everything from short trips around town to long excursions. By combining our battery level API with our location API, and in conjunction with the end user’s desired location, developers can optimize routes for electric vehicles. This helps customers plan the best trip according to their desired destination, state of charge, and the locations of charging stations along the way, while easing range anxiety.

Continuously poor or low battery levels have serious ramifications. Whether that’s difficulty troubleshooting issues, more visits to the auto shop, worse performance or reliability, each contributes to range anxiety and the likelihood of a shorter vehicle lifespan. Measuring EV battery capacity is undoubtedly important, and using Smartcar’s APIs, more seamless than ever. To provide better service to your customers, catering to this growing need for comprehensive battery information is critical.

If you’re interested in learning more about what Smartcar can do for your EV solution, request a demo with us.

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How Bidgely uses Smartcar to help utilities manage EV charging

Winona Rajamohan

5 min read

June 6, 2023
Customer story
Energy
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Energy intelligence platform, Bidgely, uses AI to turn smart meter data into actionable utility strategies for better customer engagement and optimal grid outcomes. With Smartcar’s EV API, Bidgely is taking its energy disaggregation technology one step further — by unlocking active load control for households with electric vehicles.

At a glance

🚧 Problem: Bidgely wanted to move beyond passively recommending EV charging behaviors to drivers and provide a ‘set it and forget it’ solution for utilities to actively manage EV charging.

💡 Solution: Smartcar helped Bidgely save time and developer resources by providing a centralized API and vehicle onboarding flow to integrate with 25 EV OEMs.

📈 Results: Bidgely launched their EV Active Manage Charging solution in 2023 with Smartcar,allowing EV owners to immediately onboard their vehicles with minimal application touchpoints.

How do utilities identify EVs in their service territory?

Utilities often collaborate with government departments and charging network operators to obtain EV registration data and information on charging sessions at specific stations to estimate EV ownership in a service territory. They may also collect self-reported data from customers about their EV ownership through resident surveys or voluntary participation in EV programs.

But these methods come with a catch — they introduce more dependencies, longer project timelines, and higher costs to persuade, acquire, and incentivize customer participation.

Automation helps energy providers activate more customers

Bidgely’s AI-powered solution grants energy providers a competitive advantage by leveraging smart meter disaggregation to accurately identify and detect which of their customers have EVs.  This means no customer self-reporting, disparate data sources, and additional hardware installations are required.

With these insights, Bidgely helps utilities and energy retailers worldwide, optimize time-of-use, create a resilient grid, and transform customers into engaged energy partners to tackle net-zero targets. Bidgely recently surpassed one terawatt-hour (TWh) of energy savings from working with their customers, offsetting nearly 709,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions.

But to activate EVs as a next-level asset for grids, Bidgely recognized the urgency to enable their customers to actively optimize electricity demand when needed. That’s where Smartcar comes in to equip Bidgely with direct integrations to EVs for precise and actionable charging data.


With Bidgely’s EV intelligence and engagement platform now enabling utilities to better understand the EVs on their grid and directly control charging through Smartcar telematics, a new paradigm is emerging: The energy consumer is becoming an energy partner.

— Abhay Gupta, CEO and co-founder at Bidgely


Grid resilience is hard to achieve without direct load control

In the EV-friendly state of California, EV owners have grown familiar with emergency alerts from the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) asking them to avoid charging their vehicles during periods of high energy demand.

As EV adoption grows, energy providers must act to avoid making these warnings a new norm.

There are two big takeaways from this:

  1. Mitigating power outages through an emergency alert system is inefficient because it puts the onus on residents to drop what they’re doing and take immediate action.
  2. Utilities can boost grid reliability and resilience if they capture increased demand flexibility from EV charging and align that usage with the availability of renewable energy.

“Direct load control is the ideal situation, in which utilities can control when an EV is being charged, to better manage charging demand,” said Gupta. “The EV owner wins by receiving compensation and by having the EV charged when power is cheapest to purchase.”

Bidgely uses Smartcar’s EV APIs to give utilities visibility into when and how residents charge their vehicles. From there, utilities can actively schedule charging sessions when electricity rates are the least expensive, carbon-intensive, and strenuous to the grid.

Delivering more impact with Smartcar’s APIs

Before using Smartcar, Bidgely’s EV solution was focused on giving energy providers the technology to detect EV charging, educate enrolled drivers about their energy usage, and provide recommendations for reducing or shifting their electricity consumption through behavioral nudges.

This was effective in helping utilities achieve over 75% load shift, however, many utilities want to give customers an option which removes the onus of always knowing when is the right time to charge. In response, Bidgely decided that EV telematics was the right choice to allow drivers to automate their charging proactively, without having to check for the best times themselves.

“The key was finding a way to connect directly to the cars for controlling charging, and that’s where Smartcar entered the picture for Bidgely,” says Gupta.


It would have taken us too many resources to build out a piece of our solution that Smartcar had already perfected.


— Abhay Gupta, CEO and co-founder at Bidgely


How Bidgely evaluated Smartcar as their EV API platform

✅ Reliability of the platform

Reliability and uptime are non-negotiable for Bidgely. Their customers gain value from continuous vehicle connectivity to retrieve timely data or control the vehicle when needed. Smartcar's wide collection of standardized API endpoints allows Bidgely to easily retrieve vehicle data at regular intervals.

🔋 EV brand coverage

It was important for Bidgely to maximize the number of EV brands they support to ensure the most comprehensive programs for utilities on their platform. Smartcar is compatible with over 100 different EV models across 25 brands.

🤝 Customer support

Bidgely is an essential partner to utilities, which means utility customers — and customer satisfaction scores — are directly impacted by how well Bidgely can support them. Smartcar's dedicated technical support and Customer Success teams are ready to help through email, phone, or live chat and work closely with Bidgely to ensure success long after the implementation period.

Smartcar gives Bidgely a single integration that unlocks:

  • Standardized APIs to access an EV’s state of charge, charging status, battery capacity, charge limit, and the ability to start and stop charging remotely.
  • Clear and comprehensive SDKs and API documentation for developers.
  • Consent-based user authorization packaged in a modern and ready-to-use UI.

Vehicle owners can connect their car securely and efficiently via Smartcar Connect, allowing Bidgely to help utilities streamline user onboarding and build trust with customers.

Empowering utilities with greater EV load shift performance

“Smartcar has enabled us to level up our EV Managed Charging platform for electric utilities by filling an important technology gap — connecting to the vehicle,” says Gupta.

Smartcar is excited to help Bidgely drive more impact with automated vehicle-to-grid communication that increases customer satisfaction and lowers costs.

Visit Bidgely’s website to learn more about their Active Managed Charging solution ⚡


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar or Bidgely.

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How to use a car database API to build apps for cars

Winona Rajamohan

7 min read

May 31, 2023
Product
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What does the potential for connected cars mean for automotive developer shops? Without secure and standardized car database APIs, catching up to the speed and scale of the car app market will be a daunting task.

Although we’re seeing more headlines about big tech bringing the apps we know and love to our cars, the idea of apps for cars goes far beyond repurposing existing services for in-vehicle infotainment systems.

The automotive industry is changing to accommodate more vehicle connectivity, zero-emission targets, and improved infrastructure. For that reason, governments and mobility businesses are looking to unlock new business models and revenue streams through apps powered by vehicle telematics.

But there’s one problem: Building apps for cars is complex and costly, and many organizations don’t have the in-house technical resources to do it themselves.

That’s where automotive developer shops step up to the plate. Let’s explore how developer shops can use a car database API or app templates to empower their clients with secure, reliable, and professional vehicle applications.

Top car data providers for automotive developer shops

📝 5 car database APIs and data providers

  1. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  2. Smartcar
  3. CarMD
  4. CIS Automotive
  5. Uber Ride

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allow developers to optimize specific categories of applications for a car’s built-in infotainment system so drivers can pull up apps on their car’s dashboard screen. These apps are relatively restricted regarding how much developers can customize UI templates by Apple and Android.

You can develop apps for Apple CarPlay if they serve the purpose of providing drivers with audio entertainment, communication, navigation, parking, food ordering, and EV charging. Android Auto also supports other app categories like video apps and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to communicate with connected devices like garage doors and home security systems.

Smartcar

Smartcar is a vehicle API platform for connected cars — which are vehicles shipped with built-in embedded telematics or internet connectivity to communicate with IoT devices. The technology allows developers to easily integrate their mobility apps and services with their customers’ vehicles. Developers use Smartcar’s API to integrate with 155 million cars worldwide across more than 30 brands.

Developers can use comprehensive SDKs in different languages and frameworks to integrate their apps with Smartcar’s API. What sets Smartcar apart from other car API providers on this list is that the platform gives apps a pre-built OAuth 2.0 authorization flow that collects consent from drivers and allows the application to retrieve information and send commands to vehicles.

Retrieve car data and trigger actions with API requests to these Smartcar endpoints. 

CarMD

CarMD is a car database API that gives developers access to data on a vehicle’s repair and maintenance needs. The API benefits those in the automotive aftermarket industry, parts manufacturers, distributors, and more. If you’re building an app for vehicle repairs, you can use the CarMD API to give drivers and fleet operators diagnostic reports, list repair parts and cost calculations, and access warranty or safety recall information. The API endpoints you can access with CarMD include VIN decoding, maintenance lists, diagnostics, and upcoming repairs.

CIS Automotive

Competitive Intelligence Solution’s car database API is used by car dealers, brokers, marketers, researchers, and more to analyze trends in vehicle sales and supply. The data covers 650M vehicles and 40,000 dealerships from 2016 onwards. You can use this data in your mobility apps and services to get vehicle valuations, retrieve vehicle recall information, or conduct competitive analysis on dealerships and vehicle market share. Developers are recommended to access CIS Automotive’s Python library and use Python bindings for all API endpoints.

Uber Ride API

Uber makes their API available so apps can easily equip users with a means to get rides to their destination. With the ride request API, businesses can request a ride on Uber on behalf of their users after the user grants permission to do so on the Uber app. Today, the ride request API is used by flight operators, ticketing companies, destination search-and-discovery apps, restaurant reservation services, and more. App makers can integrate their services with Uber to provide rides to and from flights, bookings, and calendar events.

What should auto dev shops look for in a car database API?

Vehicles return a lot of data. A connected car can generate 25 to 67 billion data points daily — and a lot of this data isn’t going to be relevant for most use cases.

You want to equip your developers with a vehicle API that cuts through the noise and ensures seamless and efficient access to standardized data for your client’s application. Here are a few factors to consider:

Ease of implementation

Regardless of what your typical coding language is, you need to give your app developers a frictionless experience when integrating data into the app. Work with data providers that give you clear documentation, or better yet, comprehensive SDKs and pre-built components that you can work into your app structure. To keep your project timelines on track, you’ll also want to work with a point of contact that can provide customer support, educate you on brand-specific best practices, and ensure implementation success.

For instance, to build the fleet financing app, Zeti, developers needed a convenient way to build their data architecture on Azure Static Web Apps for a totally serverless application. A stellar developer experience was necessary for the success of their innovative solution.

“Smartcar had an excellent developer experience, with example code already on GitHub that we could clone, a great SDK and an API-first structure,” said Chelsea Dowling, Head of Operations at Zeti.

“Our usual language isn’t Node, but because of our serverless architecture and the excellent SDK available, we decided to create a standalone Node.js application that integrates with the rest of our platform over API,” she adds.

When coupled with strong customer support throughout the implementation process, Zeti launched its pay-per-mile fleet financing solution using solely Smartcar data. You need a similar API that can provide developers the flexibility and speed to meet client needs in various application environments.

Brand compatibility

If the app you’re building is going to communicate with vehicles across multiple makes and models, you’ll want to make sure you’re working with data that is standardized and reliable for all those different brands.

Telematics data from each OEM will have varied response types, latencies, and service interruptions. Your app needs a consistent source of data that is optimized for these differences. Ideally, you’ll want to work with a data partner that can work with you on brand-specific edge cases and make it easier for you to support more brands in the future.

Vehicle owner privacy and security

The uncomfortable truth is that many automotive data providers sell you car data shared by drivers without consent. Consumers today are becoming increasingly weary of this, leading to more joint efforts between legislators and organizations to ensure the privacy of mobility data.

If you want to be a trusted partner to leading mobility businesses, you’ll want to work with data that is obtained ethically and communicated clearly with consumers. Smartcar surveyed 110 vehicle owners in the United States this year and discovered that drivers expect the following from the vehicle apps and services they use.

What mobility apps can you build with Smartcar?

Smartcar has the SDKs automotive dev shops need to build groundbreaking apps across use cases like:

  • Smart EV charging: Use Smartcar’s EV API to retrieve a vehicle’s state of charge, charge limit, charging status, and more. Apps can also proactively set EV charge limits and start and stop a charging session.
  • Car sharing: Apps like Turo use the lock and unlock API to allow hosts to remotely share digital car keys with guests.
  • Pay-per-mile services: Auto insurance providers and state governments use Smartcar’s odometer API to verify mileage for pay-per-mile road taxes and usage-based insurance.
  • Predictive maintenance: Bumper is an example of an app that uses Smartcar’s vehicle attributes, VIN, tire pressure, odometer, and fuel tank level to provide proactive maintenance recommendations to drivers.

What does an API request with Smartcar look like for your car app?

Let’s take a look at an example. In their search for a reliable source of vehicle data, developers at the carbon footprint calculator app, Caremiles, knew what they didn’t want.

🚫 Installable hardware devices

🚫 Collecting private information from drivers

The app needed a convenient and timely method to retrieve odometer data from vehicles to calculate the number of trees that need to be planted to offset carbon emissions from each trip. This is what your request to Smartcar's odometer endpoint would look like in Python:

import smartcar

access_token = '<access-token>'

# List all vehicles associated with this access token
response = smartcar.get_vehicle_ids(access_token)

# Use the first vehicle
vid = response['vehicles'][0]
vehicle = smartcar.Vehicle(vid, access_token)

# Fetch the vehicle's odometer
odometer = vehicle.odometer()
print(odometer)

# Example response from Smartcar
# {
#   "distance": 104.32
# }

Why automotive dev shops work with Smartcar’s API

Smartcar’s car API is the best choice for dev shops building car apps that:

  • Offer actionable user-centric services: Whether it’s sharing digital car keys, scheduling EV charging, or measuring a vehicle’s carbon footprint, Smartcar’s API helps developer shops build consumer apps that are easy to use and adopt into day-to-day activities.
  • Integrate with more than one car brand: Rolling Energy Resources (RER) works with utilities to power demand response with comprehensive EV load research. A car API platform helps RER gather data from various EVs to build insightful datasets.
  • Gives customers the choice of consenting to shared data: Tolling solution, Emovis, launched a pay-per-mile road tax program for the state of Utah. Consent-based data collection helps Emovis ease digital privacy concerns for drivers participating in a new form of tax collection.
  • Competes in a high-growth sector: Recurrent sped up production by 6 to 12 months and saved millions of engineering dollars by retrieving data with Smartcar’s API platform. This speed to market was important for them as a pre-seed startup in the EV battery software space that also had to account for the rapid growth in EV makes and models.

Smartcar’s API is used by mobility services in many industries, from auto insurance to EV charging, car sharing, and even web3!

Sign up for our Build plan to get a 15-day free trial of our standard API, brand-specific endpoints, and Vehicle Simulator 🚀


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar.

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Introducing the Smartcar Garage

Erica Bickel

2 min read

May 26, 2023
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

Smartcar’s unified developer platform empowers innovation for a host of businesses in the mobility space. With our vehicle APIs, end users can verify mileage, issue digital car keys, track location, and manage EV charging for over 35 different car brands in 31 available countries. As the easiest way to connect mobility apps to vehicles, we pride ourselves on delivering a stellar developer experience — and that begins with providing the resources needed to bring apps into production.

We’ve seen rapid adoption of digital mobility services by early-stage startups and Fortune 500 companies alike. With Smartcar, these innovators are reimagining automotive services and trailblazing new mobility categories faster than ever. Software is finally disrupting the mobility industry, and we are proud to be at the center of this much-needed revolution with the reintroduction of our Smartcar Garage Program.

Welcome to the Smartcar Garage

Our Garage Program is designed to support developers as they build and grow their first app. Once you’ve applied and are accepted into the Garage Program, you’ll receive a 50% discount on our Scale plan, and with it, access to Smartcar’s Mobility VC list. Scale plans also offer access to:

  • Up to 500 connected vehicles
  • Standard & brand-specific API endpoints
  • Popular software development kits (SDKs)
  • Access to batch requests
  • A developer-friendly dashboard, full of usage insights, vehicle simulator, and more

This is in addition to other features, like enhanced customer support, and our standard, enterprise-grade data security, privacy, and localization.

Power mobility at a low cost

This program is likely right for your business if you’re a startup under two years old, with less than $1 million in funding, and fewer than five employees.

We aim to empower developers to build the future of mobility, so whether you're creating apps for EV charging, car sharing, mileage-based insurance, or fleet management  —  you can use Smartcar’s vehicle APIs to help bring your idea to market.

Interested in joining Smartcar’s Garage Program? Apply here to get started!

Not eligible for our Garage Program? Connect with our sales team to learn about other plans that may be right for you.

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How Smartcar helps Rolling Energy Resources manage EV charging

George Szundi

4 min read

May 25, 2023
Customer story
Energy
Live SiteStaging Site

Rolling Energy Resources (RER) specializes in enabling the management of EV charging through telematics-based solutions. An industry leader with extensive experience in dozens of utility programs, RER integrated with Smartcar to help utilities build an extensive library of daily charging patterns for various EV models throughout the year.

The need for managed EV charging couldn’t be timelier.

Electricity demand fluctuates throughout the day, typically peaking in the early evening. If more EV owners charge their vehicles during peak hours, it can overwhelm electric grids and force utilities to use “dirtier” energy sources to keep up with demand.

In short, the impact of EVs on the grid largely depends on when vehicle owners charge their cars. This provides a significant opportunity for utilities to leverage load flexibility for strengthening grids without costly distribution upgrades or having to build new power plans.

“Studies show that managing EV charging in an intelligent manner can save nearly 70% of the costs of new utility grid infrastructure, literally saving tens of billions of dollars,” said Bill LeBlanc, Chief Catalyst at Rolling Energy Resources.

Utilities need to manage EV charging at scale

Managed charging is critical to help utilities accomplish two big goals: Delaying EV charging to avoid peak hours and keeping electricity rates as low as possible.

This is where Rolling Energy Resources comes in.

Rolling Energy Resources was founded by energy efficiency and demand response experts in Colorado who have worked extensively with building technologies and utility programs. Through their work with smart thermostats and demand response programs, these experts realized that connected electric vehicles (EV) could also provide a similar benefit for the electric grid. After overwhelmingly positive feedback from utilities, Scott Dimetrosky and Dr. Jon Koliner formed RER to focus solely on managing the electric load of EV charging.

RER has a base of 15 utility programs that provide demand response, time-of-use assistance, EV monitoring services, and accurate EV load shapes to utilities in the US and Canada. With the help of Smartcar’s data, RER partners with utilities across 16 states in the US, giving it one of the largest geographic footprints of any load management company in the country.


Smartcar gives us the peace of mind that a team of developers is working to maintain our access to EVs. This allows us to focus on our true value-add — effectively integrating EVs into the electric grid.

— Scott Dimetrosky, CEO and Co-Founder of Rolling Energy Resources


Smartcar helps RER balance the grid

Utilities use various methods to manage EV charging loads but are becoming increasingly inclined to use telematics-based managed charging instead of controlling charging sessions through Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE) chargers. This is because:

  • EV chargers require higher upfront installation costs for the charger itself and the corresponding electrical work that ensures households and EVs are safe during charging.
  • EV chargers cannot give utilities important information like the vehicle’s state of charge, which is essential data for demand response programs.

“We estimate that utilities using behavioral telematics programs will get 10 to 20 times more customers to participate due to the ease of registration and elimination of special in-home equipment,” said Bill.

The Smartcar's EV API gives RER a hardware-free solution to obtain data like the state of battery charge, miles driven, charging speed, and where the vehicle is charging.

RER uses this data to build a collection of typical daily charging patterns throughout the year  — a load-shape library — to help utilities conduct more accurate forecasts and system planning for the grid. It also helps RER develop its MyCharge reports, which tell drivers how much they save compared to driving an equivalent gas vehicle.

“Smartcar lays the groundwork for RER to create actionable EV load research (when people charge, where they charge, and how much energy they consume), as well as behavioral load control and active load control interventions,” said Katie Parkinson, VP of Utility Services at RER.

The results

🔌 Connectivity with 95% of EVs

⚡ 12+ contracts signed with utilities

🔋 30+ demand response events in the summer of 2022

Dedicated technical expertise is required to consistently build more vehicle integrations and keep up with the boom in EV models and brands. With the Smartcar API, RER can use a single integration to access the data they need to power their proprietary algorithms and analysis techniques.

“Connecting to all of the various electric vehicles on the market would have been a major effort,” said Scott Dimetrosky, CEO and Co-Founder of Rolling Energy Resources. “Smartcar gave us immediate access to a broad range of EV makes and models.”

Smartcar does the heavy lifting of connecting to the vehicles themselves in a reliable and consistent manner. This is difficult work, especially since the EV market changes quickly. We are happy that Smartcar can focus on those essential elements of the equation, and RER can solve the utility problems.

— Bill LeBlanc, Chief Catalyst at Rolling Energy Resources


In total, RER uses Smartcar’s odometer, state of charge, location, and charging status endpoints for EV research or load management programs. Utilities and project sponsors can view, in real-time, the charging load, location, and other characteristics of their EV-driving customers registered on the RER platform.

As the US continues to test various designs of managed charging and pricing programs, the RER and Smartcar partnership will help utilities get the data they need to evaluate different programs and present the best forward-looking options to regulators.

Want to learn more about EV load management through onboard telematics? Visit Rolling Energy Resources if you’d like to request a demonstration or explore a potential pilot program.


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement of or affiliation with Smartcar or Rolling Energy Resources.

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Smartcar is now a remote company across all 50 states

Erica Bickel

6 min read

May 12, 2023
Culture
Live SiteStaging Site

A lot has changed since our last post in January of 2021 announcing our move to becoming a remote-first company in California. This year, Smartcar has made the decision to become remote across all 50 states!

Team members now have the flexibility to live anywhere in the United States, and work from the comfort of their own homes. This means that we’re also able to reach a much larger talent pool.

Many candidates have been asking us how our culture is maintained in a remote environment. Therefore, we decided to put together a quick overview of what our secret sauce looks like when it comes to protecting work-life balance and collaboration.


Work-life balance

Initiatives

  • Unlimited PTO
  • Flexible schedules
  • Manager take-over during employee sick time
  • Remote work anywhere in the US
  • Set business hours on calendars & 1 hour blocked lunches
  • Slack messages and emails sent or scheduled during recipient’s business hours

How it’s executed

Unlimited PTO

As long as you’re getting your work done, Smartcar does not limit the amount of PTO employees can take. In fact, the HR team pulls a report every few months to ensure that everyone is taking adequate time off. If someone has not taken PTO in a short while, HR will reach out to both the manager and employee to ensure that time off is scheduled. If you’d like to schedule your PTO a year in advance, go for it! If you want to be spontaneous, do it! Once PTO is scheduled through our HR tool, your Google calendar will automatically be updated as “OOO” so that everyone knows not to schedule any meetings during your time off.

Flexible schedules

Everyone has different schedules and priorities in life, and our flexible schedule policy allows room to balance all of these important things. Whether you need to drop off and pick up your kids from school, participate in volunteer work at a nonprofit of your choice, run errands, or make it to your pilates or kickball class; there’s flexibility to do it all.

Our rule of thumb is that if you need ~2 hours or less in a work day, you don’t have to log this time as PTO; we just ask that you block time off on your calendar and plan to make up the hours at a different time during the week. If you need more than 2 hours in a work day, then we ask that you kindly log this time.

Manager take-overs during employee sick time

There is a certain anxiety associated with taking sick time in the United States. A lot of people feel that it’s easier to power through work while they’re sick — because it takes more effort to reschedule all of the meetings that were already on the calendar!

Therefore, we’ve made it Smartcar’s practice that when you are sick, all you have to do is let your manager know and they will take care of rescheduling any meetings that were on your calendar, pushing out deadlines if applicable, and putting your sick time into our HR system.

This relieves pressure so that you can rest and focus on feeling better.

Remote work anywhere in the US

A common FAQ for remote-first companies is whether compensation and benefits will be location-based. Smartcar has decided to adopt a universal compensation philosophy using SF Bay Area data for organizations within a similar space, size, and funding amount.

Therefore, no matter what your city and state’s cost of living is, your salary will still be based on SF Bay Area data.

Set business hours and 1-hour blocked lunches

On your first day, we make sure that you schedule a recurring 1-hour lunch block on your calendar so that no one schedules any meetings during that time. The time you choose can always be moved around day-to-day, but we want to ensure that each employee has at least one recurring block.

Scheduled Slack messages and emails during recipient’s business hours

Each employee sets their business hours in their Google Calendar on their first day so that everyone is aware of when to message them (and when to not).


Team bonding & collaboration

Initiatives

  • Yearly in-person company-wide offsite
  • Bi-yearly team offsite
  • Remote monthly all-hands & weekly standup
  • Slack channels
  • Onboarding training by each department
  • Employee check-ins

How it’s executed

Yearly in-person company-wide offsite

Every Q1 we host a company-wide, in-person offsite. The location is chosen based on where the majority of our team members reside. Since the majority of the team is currently based in Northern California, this past January we held our offsite in San Francisco at the California Academy of Sciences. The day was packed with our all-hands activities, catered breakfast and lunch, a Smartcar-themed “Who Said It?” slideshow game based on our website blurbs, and a scavenger hunt facilitated by the Academy of Sciences.

If you are not an offsite person, no problem, they are optional!

Bi-yearly team offsite

Teams are also able to have two of their own offsites, either virtual or in person. This is a great opportunity for teams to work together, have lunch, and bond over an activity!

Remote monthly all-hands & weekly standup

We host two different types of company-wide meetings to discuss milestones and updates. Our monthly all-hands covers high-level updates from our leadership team about new customers, runway, employee shoutouts, and KPI progress. Our weekly standup is a sign-up sheet-based meeting where anyone in the company can share an update. This ranges from webinar announcements, new tooling, team wins, and more.

Slack channels

Slack has been an integral part of maintaining day-to-day culture. Here are a few Slack channels that Smartcar has, that anyone can join based on their interests:

  • Random — we share jokes, memes, travel recommendations, and anything else that we feel like sharing
  • Pets — we share photos and videos of our work-from-home assistants
  • Whatcha Watchin — we exchange TV and movie recommendations, as well as discuss the latest reality show tea
  • Earworms & Melodies — we swap music that we enjoy listening to
  • Donut — a Slack integration that randomly matches team members every other week to better get to know each other. This encourages connection between others that you don’t normally work with. Both of our co-founders participate too, so you could be matched with Sahas or Sanketh!

Onboarding training by each department

The first month of your journey at Smartcar is one of the most important times. There’s a firehose of information for you to absorb — and a team that’s ready to support you in the process.

Department Overviews are a great resource for new employees. Every month, each manager hosts an overview presentation of their department to our new group of team members. This presentation includes details about their team’s function, growth, and current or upcoming projects and goals.

Employee check-ins

Individual check-ins are important to get a pulse on how everyone is doing and what we could do better as a company to support our team. Therefore, managers perform regular check-ins during 1x1s, and HR will also check in every few months to see how everything is going.


Building and maintaining culture is not a one-and-done initiative — it’s an ongoing effort that needs to be continuously built upon. As we scale, we will frequently reflect on what new initiatives need to be added and what existing initiatives need to be swapped out.

If you’re interested in joining the Smartcar, team feel free to take a look at our openings here.

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Introducing Smartcar's EV charge limit APIs

Winona Rajamohan

3 min read

May 9, 2023
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

We’re excited to introduce our EV charge limit and EV set charge limit API endpoints to all new and existing Smartcar customers! Customers can now use these endpoints across multiple supported brands to get actionable data on an electric vehicle’s charge limit.

What are the EV charge limit and EV set charge limit APIs?

Most automakers recommend setting a charge limit below 100% unless the vehicle owner is planning to go on a long drive without any stops to charge. Mobility businesses can use the EV charge limit and EV set charge limit API to verify a vehicle owner’s preferred charge limit and set thresholds during an EV charging session to preserve battery health.

The API also allows apps to provide EV charging services that are within safe operating limits for electric circuits and EV batteries. For instance, drivers may want to limit their charging to 80% on an especially hot day to keep batteries cool or prevent the overheating of household wiring.

With this new EV API, Smartcar customers can access two new endpoints in their apps and services:

  1. EV charge limit: Retrieve the charge limit configuration for a vehicle.
  2. EV set charge limit: Control the limit at which the vehicle should stop charging and be considered fully charged.

Mobility apps can now provide a convenient experience for EV drivers to customize their charging preferences without having to be physically around a vehicle.

The endpoints will now be a core endpoint for the following brands: Tesla, Ford, Volkswagen (US), Hyundai (US), and Kia (US & Canada).

How to use the charge limit and set charge limit APIs in your EV app

With the addition of these new endpoints, mobility apps can use Smartcar’s suite of EV APIs to power popular services for EV owners, DERMS providers, and utilities.

🔌 Demand response

Smart charging apps can prevent spikes in electricity demand by setting the charge limit for EV owners based on the time of day and real-time grid load. With these new APIs, apps can seamlessly optimize the charging schedules of end-users and monetize their efforts to help utilities reduce peak load.

Take a look at the graph below to see Optiwatt uses Smartcar’s EV API to lower grid stress and participate in energy markets — all while making sure drivers get enough charge in their EVs to go about their day.

⚡ Managed charging

DERMS software can use the EV charge limit and EV set charge limit APIs to implement reliable and driver-friendly managed EV charging programs. By having visibility into the amount of charge drivers can expect to get in each charge session, DERMs providers can optimize charge start times within a utility service territory.

EV drivers can be reluctant to participate in programs if they’re unsure how proactive managed charging will impact vehicle battery health. Smartcar’s new APIs give vehicle owners the ability to customize program preferences according to a maximum state of charge below 100% to increase battery efficiency and lifespan.

🔋  Battery health reporting

Mobility apps can use these new APIs to compare the impact of charge limits on the battery health of EV makes and models. Gain a better understanding of a vehicle owner’s charging behavior and equip drivers with EV battery reporting capabilities to help them optimize their EV charging for long-term battery efficiency.

For example, apps can use these endpoints to analyze how the range differs between vehicles that are consistently charged to 80% and those that are charged to 100%.

Why integrate your EV app with a connected car API platform?

Smartcar’s platform for EV APIs gives EV apps and DERMS providers standardized integrations and clear developer documentation to build apps to communicate with over 100 EV models across 26 brands. What does this mean for your engineering and product teams?

  • Standardized developer resources for faster builds (Check out our Build vs Buy guide to see exactly how much time our customers save!)
  • Scalable data collection across a majority of top EV makes and models
  • Easy opt-in and onboarding for vehicle owners
  • Real-time visibility into API errors and interruptions

If you’re already a Smartcar customer, you can integrate the new API endpoint into your product today! Contact our Customer Success team if you have any questions or need help getting started.

If you aren’t a Smartcar customer yet and would like to start using our new get and set charge limit APIs, explore our pricing plans and schedule a free demo with our team today!


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar.

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How Agile Solutions uses Smartcar to digitize fleet management

Erica Bickel

3 min read

May 2, 2023
Customer story
Car sharing
Live SiteStaging Site

The world of mobility has undoubtedly changed, and customers today demand a fully-digital, integrative solution for a range of common service issues. But while most mobility solution providers address niches of the mobility service sector, Agile Solutions offers a wide breadth of services for customers, including traditional car rentals at the counter and in-app peer-to-peer car sharing, using a single fleet on one unified platform.

With Smartcar’s car API, Agile Solutions streamlines contactless handout processes, fleet management, and logistics tracking. In this way, the company digitizes traditional car rental processes in order to expedite check-in, regardless if the customer prefers the counter to an application when picking up their rental. They’re making a traditionally slow digitization process a lot easier and more intuitive for car rental companies, leasing organizations, car dealerships, and fleet owners.

At a glance

🚧 Problem: Agile Solutions needed a software-based solution for virtual key sharing to enable remote locking and unlocking of vehicles.

💡 Solution: Smartcar provided a straightforward, hardware-free API platform that met the needs of Agile Solutions’ diverse set of customers.

📈 Results: Agile Solutions is able to integrate and continually add new vehicles to its provider list, keeping pace with the mobility market.


Moving at the speed of mobility

The rate at which new vehicle models are added to market is growing, with electric vehicles experiencing a 34% CAGR between 2015-2021. By 2025, the number of overall car models is expected to nearly double, with an average of 62 models per year coming to market.

While exciting, this presents a significant challenge to developers, who have to ensure compatibility with a large volume of new vehicles and car brands. Agile Solutions is all too familiar with this problem, and sought to find a solution that wouldn’t require a set of specialized skills to integrate, yet could move at the speed of the rapidly-changing automotive industry.


New [car] models are constantly being released, and we needed a platform that would support new models as they enter the market. We felt that Smartcar’s solution would continue to develop and evolve at the same pace as the mobility market.

– John Revheim, COO & Partner, Agile Solutions


Going hardware-free

Agile Solutions’ clients comprise of mobility service providers who want to build applications that enable contactless car rentals, but the company struggled with the complexities of hardware installation.

Like many players in this space, Agile Solutions built digital lockers and supplied in-vehicle hardware but continued to experience power usage challenges and complicated installations. If they were to modify the wiring in these vehicles, complex insurance issues would be triggered. This was a tipping point that showed Agile Solutions a critical need for software-based rental solutions in the market.


Through our partnership with Smartcar, we’re able to continue to provide our customers with the tools they need to offer modern and digitized mobility services of all types.

– Vidar Gunstvedt, CEO, Partner, & Senior Software Developer, Agile Solutions


   

How Agile Solutions evaluated Smartcar as their API platform

   

😍 Ease of use for Agile Solutions customers

   

Smartcar’s solution is quick and easy to install, requires no hardware, and offers plenty of online support documentation.

   

🧰 Comprehensive API platform

   

Developers work with a clear and detailed set of resources, including easy-to-use APIs, SDKs, and a powerful self-service dashboard.

   

♻️ Continuous brand coverage

   

Smartcar is compatible with over 30 different brands in Europe, Canada, and the United States – and we’re always adding new models.

Integrating with Smartcar

Transforming a manual industry takes time, but Agile Solutions’ integration with Smartcar allows mobility service providers to quickly adopt contactless rental experiences, no matter where they are located.

By using a software-only approach, companies can streamline their rental processes and even offer modern conveniences like contactless car sharing.

Thanks to its partnership with Smartcar, Agile Solutions is well-positioned to be the premier provider of mobility service solutions for car sharing and rentals.
 


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar or Agile Solutions.

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How to set up Smartcar's scheduled webhooks

Travis Joseph

6 min read

April 25, 2023
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

In this guide, we’ll dive into how you can set up Smartcar’s scheduled webhooks on the integration platform, Pipedream.

Webhooks allow apps to receive push notifications and regular updates from connected cars. Mobility businesses use Smartcar’s webhooks to retrieve information from vehicles at set intervals without having to run a time-based job scheduler to make API requests. It also means developers don’t have to write any code to manage tokens.

🔋Smart charging providers find great value in using webhooks to start a charging session based on battery levels or grid load at any given time or charging schedules set by EV owners.

💰 Car insurance providers use scheduled webhooks to verify their policyholders’ mileage, garaging location, and VIN daily or monthly.

⚒ Car rental and maintenance companies manage their operations using webhooks to automatically retrieve data like a vehicle’s location, odometer, fuel tank level, and tire pressure daily or weekly.

Of course, these are only some of the many ways a mobility application can use Smartcar’s webhooks to get timely and accurate data.

Smartcar currently offers two kinds of webhooks:

  1. Schedule-based webhooks: Fetches recurring data from vehicles connected to an app based on a set schedule.
  2. Event-based webhooks: Pushes notifications to vehicle owners when certain conditions are met — like when an EV has finished charging to a limit set by the driver. We currently offer event-based webhooks for these EV API endpoints: start charge, stop charge, and charge completion. Event-based webhooks are available to customers on our Enterprise plan.

This guide dives specifically into how developers can set up our schedule-based webhooks, which is only available on our Enterprise plan.

🧰 To use this guide, you’ll need a Smartcar account and a Pipedream account.

📝 We'll be exploring the following sections (click a section to jump right to it):

  1. Part I — Configure webhook
  2. Part II — Verify webhooks
  3. Part III — Process webhook payloads
  4. Part IV — Working with test vehicles

🪝Part I: Configure webhook

Once you’ve created your Pipedream account, you can get started with creating a workflow trigger.

Set the trigger as HTTP/Webhook > HTTP Requests and set the 'HTTP Response' field to 'Return a custom response from your workflow'.

After you hit save and continue, Pipedream will generate a unique URL for you. 💡We’ll be using this in the next step.

Once you’ve created a Smartcar account, head to the webhooks tab and create your first webhook. Give the webhook a name and paste it into the URL from Pipedream under 'Callback URI'.

Set the 'Type' to 'Scheduled' and select the frequency you want to receive data from vehicles. Select what data you want to receive from a vehicle and units, then hit 'Add Webhook'.

🪝 Part II: Verify webhook

🢣 Step 1

After you've added your webhook, you’ll see a pop-up that will prompt you to click 'Verify this webhook.' This will fail initially — you'll see this displayed in the pop-up as shown below.

🢣 Step 2

Now, you're going to head back to Pipedream. You should see a new event pop up there.

Select the event in Pipedream and navigate through the body of the event to find the challenge in the payload.

🢣 Step 3

At this point, we’ll need to use some code to generate a signature that will pass the challenge.

We’ll be using Smartcar’s Python SDK in this tutorial going forward, but feel free to use any of our backend SDKs that Pipedream supports!

First, Hit the ‘+’ icon under the ‘Continue’ button.

Next, select ‘Python’ and then ‘Run Python code.’

Now, paste the following code to the new step in Pipedream.

import smartcar

def handler(pd: "pipedream"):
 
  mat = <YOUR_MAT>
  event_name = pd.steps["trigger"]["event"]["body"]["eventName"]
	
  if event_name == "verify": 
    challenge_string = pd.steps["trigger"]["event"]["body"]["payload"]["challenge"]
    hmac = smartcar.hash_challenge(mat, challenge_string)
    return { "challenge": hmac}
  
  return True

You’ll also want to fetch your Management API Token (MAT) from the 'Configuration' tab in the Smartcar Dashboard. Once you've hit added your MAT to the code, hit 'Test'.

If everything runs correctly, you should see a return value following challenge: “some string.” 💡Note that the value following challenge will be different for everyone.

🢣 Step 4

Hit the ‘+’ to add the next step.

Here, we’ll want to return an HTTP Response. You can find this by clicking into ‘HTTP/Webhook’ in Pipedream's app menu.

The 'Return HTTP Response' step responds to the Smartcar verification request with the challenge response generated in the Python step above. To do this, we’ll need to add a 'Response Body' and reference the Python steps’ return value.

Select ‘+ Response Body’ and hit 'select path' for `$return_value` from the dropdown.

After testing this step, you should see `challenge : <HMAC>` in the body of the event. Now you can deploy the workflow.

Once deployed, head back to Smartcar Dashboard and verify your webhook!

🪝 Part III: Process webhook payloads

🢣 Step 1

Pipedream provides us with Data Stores as a convenient way to store payloads sent to your scheduled webhook.

To get one set up, select ‘Data Stores’ from the Pipedream navigation bar and create a new data store.

Before we can make changes to our workflow to handle the payload, Pipedream needs a test event to reference as we set it up. To do this, send a test request on the webhook we verified in your Smartcar Dashboard.

🢣 Step 2

Back in your Pipedream workflow, you’ll see a new event pop up under ‘Select Event’ in your trigger step. Select the event and hit ‘Continue.’

Now, navigate to your Python step in Pipedream (what you created in Part II: Step 3 of this tutorial) and select the data store you created.

🢣 Step 3

Head over to the 'Code' section. We’ll need to add code here so we handle a scheduled webhook payload differently from a verification one. Add the following under our previous `if` statement:

elif event_name == "schedule": 
    data_store = pd.inputs["data_store"]
    payload = pd.steps["trigger"]["event"]["body"]["payload"]["vehicles"]
    
    for vehicles in payload:
      key = vehicles["vehicleId"] + ":" + vehicles["requestId"]
      data = vehicles["data"]
      data_store[key] = data
      print(key, data_store[key])
      
    return {}

Once you hit 'Test' and switch to the Logs tab, you should see the key we used for this test payload.

🢣 Step 4

We can leave the Return HTTP Response step (which we created in Part II: Step 4 of this tutorial) as it is because Smartcar still expects a `2XX` response after delivering a payload.

Since we're returning an empty object when `event_name = “schedule”` in our Python step, this step will return `{ "success": true }` in the body by default. You should see the following output after testing this step.

And we’re done! 🥳

If we navigate back to our Data Store, we should see a new entry with data from our initial test request. Pipedream is now set up to handle payloads from a Smartcar Scheduled Webhook.

🪝 Part IV: Working with test vehicles

If you want to schedule data from a test vehicle (or even your own) you can follow one of our integration guides and simply add the `subscribe` helper method in the final step.

In this example, we’re sticking with Python since we used Smartcar's Python SDK earlier in this tutorial.

# ./main.py

@app.route('/vehicle', methods=['GET'])
def get_vehicle():
    ...
    vehicle = smartcar.Vehicle(vehicle_ids[0], access.access_token)

		# subscribe a vehicle to your webhook
		vehicle.subscribe(<your_webhook_id>)
		
    ...

To find your webhook ID, head over to the 'Webhooks' tab in your Smartcar dashboard and click 'More' > 'View'.

Taking your app experience one step further

When we revamped our Smartcar webhooks with the release of V2.0 of our API, we wanted to give mobility businesses a better experience when receiving app notifications on vehicle events and updates. We're excited to see our scheduled webhooks being used in so many exciting apps across multiple mobility industries!

If you're interested in learning about more event-based webhooks — which are only available for Enterprise customers to use with EV API endpoints — request a demo of Smartcar so our product experts can show you what it's all about.

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The chicken or the egg: How EV software is solving the EV adoption dilemma

Winona Rajamohan

5 min read

April 12, 2023
EV charging
Live SiteStaging Site

Recent industry statistics and regulations prove that electric vehicles are no longer shiny new toys for early adopters. On the contrary, they’re well on their way to mass market acceptance. Smartcar CEO, Sahas Katta, joined Energize Ventures and CEOs from Monta, Sitetracker, and DroneDeploy for a CEO panel discussing how software is supporting the most significant transportation shift in recent history.

With countries racing to meet decarbonization targets and global automakers pledging to invest over $1 trillion in EVs and batteries, EV players face a new challenge: How do they build a reliable electrified transportation system by scaling EV charging operations and building driver-friendly experiences?

Almost all electric vehicles are connected cars that can produce 25 to 67 billion data points daily, opening the doors for cross-collaboration and a fresh start outside legacy systems.

Enabling convenience with consumer-centric apps and services

Beyond the upfront costs of an electric vehicle, a 2022 consumer survey revealed that the biggest concerns American drivers have are related to range anxiety and EV charging accessibility.

Source: AAA

The average driver in the US drives about 30 miles daily. Although overnight EV charging at home makes up nearly 80% of charging behavior, EV drivers want assurance that they can reach any destination smoothly.

Building more EV charging stations isn’t the catch-all solution to range anxiety. In fact, a study of 181 charging stations in Northern California discovered that a quarter of EV charging ports were not functional. There’s also the risk of investing in EV charging infrastructure that is underutilized due to unclear guidelines for drivers and property owners.

Software allows us to use accurate real-time data to bridge gaps in the consumer experience that didn’t exist with gas-powered vehicles. This includes locating nearby chargers that aren’t in use and matching ride-hailing passengers with EVs with enough range for their trips. EV drivers and fleet operators can also use third-party apps to:

⚒ Get predictive vehicle maintenance alerts

🔋 Build battery health reports

💵  Use pay-per-mile financing for fleet electification

🍃 Measure an EV's carbon footprint

“The ownership experience is created by lots of third-party apps trying to make EV ownership easier,” says Sahas Katta, CEO at Smartcar.

“Beyond an automaker’s official app, EV drivers use third-party apps to plan their driving routes, integrate EVs with home energy management systems, and get reimbursed for work mileage.”

🧰 Building with connected car data

Explore four lessons Smartcar learned while helping mobility businesses across industries build apps with connected car data

👉 Read our blog

Aligning policymakers, corporations, and drivers

Eileen Warris, Principal at Energize Ventures, brings up the classic “chicken or the egg” problem that has thrown a wrench in EV initiatives over the past decade — which comes first, widely available EV charging infrastructure or high EV adoption?

But the answer to that question becomes a little more complicated when you think about where and how drivers charge their vehicles.

“[EV charging stations] are not going to replace the classic gas station setup. Most consumers won’t go [to an EV charging station] very often if they can charge at home or charge at work,” says Casper Rasmussen, CEO at Monta.

Destination charging covers most EV charging needs, so we don’t necessarily have to wait to install hundreds of thousands of public charging stations to make EV adoption happen. However, it creates a more nuanced environment that must consider each location's regulations, permitting processes, and driver expectations.

With that being said, local governments and businesses must be strategic about future-proofing their EV charging network amidst policy changes, cost fluctuations for drivers, and record numbers of new EVs making their way into the market. Software aligns all stakeholders in the EV industry by introducing agility to processes like:

  • Track and centralize project and vendor management for the construction of EV chargers
  • Surveying sites for businesses and property owners to implement an EV charging network
  • Balancing electricity supply and demand with smart charging
  • Managing EV charge points in different locations or for different use cases (e.g. highways, commercial fleets, multi-unit dwellings)

Leveraging an ecosystem of purpose-built tools

The electric vehicle industry comprises a complex network of players specializing in different verticals, services, and products.

This ecosystem of policymakers, public institutions, businesses, manufacturers, and utilities typically work together to operationalize different parts of their workflow and reduce turnaround times. But many organizations fail to recognize just how diverse this ecosystem is thanks to the rise of vehicle connectivity and software.

“The industry is now becoming more aware that there are purpose-built tools for their specific use case,” says Giuseppe Incitti, CEO at Sitetracker.

🔋 EV charging operators can use Drone Deploy and SiteTracker to accelerate the construction of charging sites

🔌 Businesses and property owners can use Monta's EV charging management software to streamline operations and end-user experience of EV charge points

🧰 Developers use Smartcar’s API to build a software solution or mobile app that can communicate directly with a majority of EVs using a single integration

Building solutions and infrastructure for EVs is a relatively unfamiliar and volatile territory. The good news is that organizations can break their processes down and work with experts who can help them learn and execute nuanced strategies faster.

There isn’t a Swiss army knife that can solve all the challenges that come with EV adoption — from constructing infrastructure to engaging with regulators and delivering driver experiences and incentives. The EV industry must learn how to leverage different software to stay ahead of the ebbs and flows of transportation electrification in the coming decade.

Open data is changing the mobility industry

It’s important to note that a software-led approach is most efficient and agile when players within the ecosystem are willing to share data that can help shape better policies, incentives, and infrastructure.

The next step in the EV revolution is for industry stakeholders to invest in an open data environment that increases cross-functional collaboration while protecting every driver’s right to the data they use. What does this do?

  • Encourages the deployment of smaller, localized EV charging networks that can meet the unique needs of different communities
  • Allows businesses to easily adapt and upgrade their services by working with any hardware that meets Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) standards
  • Enables stronger public and private partners to test and deploy EV programs faster, including road usage charge and demand response initiatives
  • Helps EV drivers make their own decisions about their vehicle’s data and supporting apps without being dependent on automakers and dealerships

The Smartcar team is excited to help mobility businesses develop apps and services that prioritize user choice, privacy, and experiences.

Alongside companies like Sitetracker, DroneDeploy, and Monta, we believe in using software to remove siloes within the EV industry and optimize resource expenditure for the highest possible impact.

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CarKenny: A one-stop shop for vehicle security and peace of mind

Erica Bickel

2 min read

April 11, 2023
Customer story
Live SiteStaging Site

Car safety is an essential aspect of everyday life. With an increasing number of vehicles on the road, it's more important than ever to ensure the well-being of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Ready to tackle this mission is CarKenny, a car safety startup that uses Smartcar’s API to share critical safety information to users, connecting multiple family vehicles all in one app. This process provides drivers with a greater protection and peace of mind on the road.

At a glance

🚧 Problem: CarKenny needed a brand-agnostic platform to manage all of a family’s vehicle safety needs in one place.

💡 Solution: Smartcar’s advanced API ensured seamless integration with over 34 different vehicle brands, and provided a centralized communication hub for car data.

📈 Results: With Smartcar’s integration, CarKenny reduced user onboarding time and associated costs by 80% as compared to traditional methods (i.e. OBD-II or custom OEM).


Vehicle safety in a connected world

The idea for CarKenny was born from a routine traffic stop. Recognizing a need in the market for a tool to track and record speed, the company’s founder, Kennith Burks, decided to create a platform that could integrate GPS tracking, remote access, vehicle diagnostics, and more all in one place. The app centralizes vehicle safety and provides real-time AI-powered data analysis, specifically for families with teenage drivers. Now, CarKenny users, including peer-to-peer car sharing owners, can monitor, track, and report on odometer readings, fuel levels, and other crucial vehicle data using Smartcar’s API.


This collaboration makes monitoring and managing vehicle safety simpler and more efficient for families with multiple vehicles.

– Kennith Burks, founder at CarKenny


The Smartcar & CarKenny integration at work

36% of Americans own multiple vehicles from different brands, therefore requiring two or more apps for routine vehicle monitoring and safety. The Smartcar and CarKenny integration solves this issue by providing a one-stop shop for both car safety and regular vehicle maintenance. While Smartcar assures a connected car experience through a unified, secure, and hardware-free developer platform, CarKenny’s patent-pending solution utilizes artificial intelligence, machine learning, and advanced sensor technology to promote safe, secure, and regulated driving.

How CarKenny evaluated Smartcar as their API platform

👍 Optimal brand coverage

Smartcar is compatible with over 30 different brands in Europe, Canada, and the United States.

🧰 Comprehensive API platform

Developers work with a clear and detailed set of resources, including easy-to-use APIs, SDKs, and a powerful self-service dashboard.

🤝 Quality support

Smartcar continues to collaborate closely with the CarKenny team to ensure a seamless integration experience.

A peek into the future

The Smartcar and CarKenny integration provides customers with an easy, consistent view of vehicle telematics. But while the company remains focused on ensuring vehicle safety for all, it’s looking ahead to a more connected future. The organization currently has plans to democratize vehicle security for the growing shared vehicle market, by creating a mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) platform to book, plan, and pay for any mode of transportation equipped with CarKenny’s tools.


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar or CarKenny.

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How we used Bucardo for a zero-downtime PostgreSQL migration

Ashwin Kumar Subramanian

5 min read

April 6, 2023
Product
Culture
Live SiteStaging Site

In this two-part series, we'll show you how we successfully implemented zero-downtime Postgres migrations on Amazon RDS. Part one focuses on how we used an open-source tool, Bucardo. Follow along as we guide you through the process of building a new database while keeping it synchronized with your live database during the migration.

With our infrastructure on the Amazon Web Services(AWS) cloud, it’s usually a simple task patching up our databases. Our engineering team takes pride in keeping our tools and dependencies up to date as much as possible, so we regularly rope these maintenance tasks into our schedule.

But not all of these tasks are as easy as pressing a button on the AWS console. We encountered one of these more complex tasks when it was time to make a mandatory version upgrade to our production databases.  

Handling this database migration well was a business-critical task because zero downtime was non-negotiable. We needed to ensure no customer data was lost during the process and that nothing interfered with new API calls and developer sign-ups.

Let's walk through how we did this with Bucardo.

Why are we using Bucardo to do this?

Many applications use Smartcar’s platform as a primary way to connect to vehicles throughout the day. If we’re not up and running, vehicle owners can’t access our customers’ solutions.

Migrating your database while incurring downtime is relatively easy but with clear drawbacks to your product reliability. Your process would look like this:

Since we were only updating the underlying infrastructure, we could easily spin up an alternate RDS cluster and restore data from a certain point in time. But this becomes tricky if we want to keep our database updated and running even as our client applications are switching one by one. To make this happen, we needed to switch up the process.

Taking those conditions into account, our migration would look like this instead:

To achieve step two of this new process, we’re using Bucardo, an open-source tool for replicating PostgreSQL data. We used Bucardo primarily for two primary operations:

  • Backfilling existing data from the old database into the new one.
  • Replicating live changes on the old database into the new database while the clients are switching over

Now let's jump into Bucardo's setup, configuration, and usage!

How to set up Bucardo

Our databases reside in a secure private subnet in AWS. The server where we run Bucardo needs access to both the source (old) and the destination (new) databases. We also need SSH to access the server we want to run Bucardo on and set it up.

There are many best practices for doing this in different ways, but for the sake of this tutorial, let's keep it simple.

1. Create an EC2 Instance to run Bucardo in a subnet with the following:

➡ Access to the source database
➡ Access to the target database
➡ Key-based SSH access

Bucardo doesn't have an official docker container, but we’ll want to install and run Bucardo in an isolated container. So, we built an Ubuntu container to install and run Bucardo from there.

2. Install Docker Engine with the instructions found here

3. Run an Ubuntu container and log in to the bash shell

docker run --name bucardo --net=host -it ubuntu:20.04 /bin/bashdocker run --name bucardo --net=host -it ubuntu:20.04 /bin/bash

4. Install all dependencies following these instructions

5. Set up the internal Postgres installation that will be used by Bucardo.Edit

Edit `/etc/postgresql/13/main/pg_hba.conf` to trust all:

- local   all             postgres                                peer
+ local   all             all                                     trust- local   all             postgres                                peer
+ local   all             all                                     trust

6. Restart Postgres for the changes to take effect

service postgresql restart

7. Continue with the Bucardo setup

mkdir /var/run/bucardo /var/log/bucardo
bucardo install -U postgres -d postgresmkdir /var/run/bucardo /var/log/bucardo
bucardo install -U postgres -d postgres

You should see the below as a confirmation. Type `P` to proceed.

This will install the bucardo database into an existing Postgres cluster. Postgres must have been compiled with Perl support, and you must connect as a superuser

Current connection settings: 
1. Host: <none> 
2. Port: 5432 
3. User: postgres 
4. Database: postgres 
5. PID directory: /var/run/bucardo
Enter a number to change it, P to proceed, or Q to quit: PThis will install the bucardo database into an existing Postgres cluster. Postgres must have been compiled with Perl support, and you must connect as a superuser

Current connection settings: 
1. Host: <none> 
2. Port: 5432 
3. User: postgres 
4. Database: postgres 
5. PID directory: /var/run/bucardo
Enter a number to change it, P to proceed, or Q to quit: P

How to configure Bucardo for migration

Set up complete! Now we’re ready to run a migration.

1. Prepare the target database with all tables from the source database.

Bucardo does not migrate over schemas, only data.

An easy way of doing the schema migration is to utilize the pg_dump command with the --schema-only flag.

pg_dump -h <source_db_host> -U postgres -p 5432 <db_name> --schema-only > source-schema.sql

2. Create your target database and import the schema into it.

createdb -h <target_db_host> -U postgres -p 5432 <db_name>
pg_dump -h <target_db_host> -U postgres -p 5432 <db_name> <source-schema.sql

3. Add the databases to Bucardo to let Bucardo know what will be used in the sync process.

We can label these databases as the “source” and “target” for convenience and then to bucardo using the following commands.

bucardo add db source_db dbname=<db_name> host=<source_db_host> user=postgres pass=password port=5432
bucardo add db target_db dbname=<db_name> host=<target_db_host> user=postgres pass=password port=5432

The databases that we’ve added are reflected in Bucardo’s internal database. However, Bucardo needs the password to those databases to act as the intermediary between the two.  

We could pass an additional command line parameter `pass=<password string>`, but passwords with special characters end up truncated, which causes the command to fail. To avoid this, we recommend logging in to the Bucardo local DB and adding the password yourselves.

# To login to bucardo local DB
psql -U postgres -d bucardo
# in psql prompt that opens up after the above command write an update query
UPDATE bucardo.db SET dbpass='<password>' where name='<name used above. ex source_db>';

4. Configure a sync using the two databases created above.

`onetimecopy=1` is set on the Bucardo sync to indicate that we want the initial data in the source database to be copied into the target database. See the Bucardo docs for additional options.

bucardo add sync source_to_target tables=all dbs=source_db:source,target_db:target onetimecopy=1

Now we have everything ready to constantly sync the target database with any changes reflected on the source database.

How to initiate the process

The last thing left to do is start the sync!

Here are some useful commands to start, stop or monitor the status  (you can find other useful CLI commands that can be found on official Bucardo docs).

  • `bucardo start` to start the sync
  • `tail -f /var/log/bucardo/log.bucardo` to stream the live logs
  • `bucardo status` to see the status of all the sync operations going on
  • `bucardo stop` to stop the sync

What we’ll cover next

We just looked into setting up the Bucardo sync with two databases, which is one of the most important steps of the database migration we’re performing. Now that Bucardo is up and running, we can start focusing on switching clients to the new database.

Smartcar has multiple services depending on our database, which means they have to switch over from our source to our target database simultaneously or with a minimum delay.

Managing the difference in deployment time of different services was a major challenge we needed to solve. But we came up with a way to handle this issue with homegrown configuration management magic.

Stay tuned to the Smartcar engineering blog for our next update, or subscribe to our newsletter below!

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How car sharing APIs create a seamless rental experience

Winona Rajamohan

8 min read

March 17, 2023
Car sharing
Live SiteStaging Site

Vehicle inventory levels in the US were at their lowest in 2021 since the Global Financial Crisis. This has unsurprisingly pushed rental prices to record highs. Last summer, average car rental prices were 60% higher than pre-pandemic levels — that’s $99 a day.

The potential for peer-to-peer car sharing is immense because it allows commuters to rent vehicles from hosts without having to rely on rental fleets. With car sharing APIs, businesses can empower vehicle hosts and renters with more convenient, reliable, and affordable options.

Mobility businesses and automakers have been eager to dip their toes into the car-sharing market as the cost of vehicle ownership has soared. But many have failed to execute these ventures successfully.

User experience and software stability play a major role in attracting and retaining users. In 2018, Bloomberg surfaced reviews for car sharing apps by automakers that highlighted buggy apps, poor vehicle maintenance, and vehicles that don’t unlock when renters arrive to pick them up. Many of the apps featured in the article are no longer in operation.

But the market, its technology, and its players have evolved.

Car sharing revenue growth in the United States has grown by 51% from 2021 to 2022. Venkatesh Gopal, principal at Movmi, sat down with Smartcar to talk about the future of sustainable mobility and shared that this upward trend has a lot to do with availability and convenience.

“Car sharing today looks a lot like this: I sit in my home, I'm scanning through an app to see what car is available and what my options are. Do I want station-based? Do I want free floating?” he says. “I can then make a reservation at my convenience.

Let’s explore how successful businesses use car sharing APIs to provide commuters with high levels of digitization, convenience, and reliability without investing in hardware.

What car sharing APIs does your app need?

🔑 5 types of car sharing APIs you can use your app

  1. Lock and unlock API
  2. Location API
  3. EV battery API
  4. Fuel tank API
  5. Odometer API

Lock and unlock API

A lock and unlock API (or digital car key API) lets app users remotely lock and unlock their cars directly from a mobile app on their phones. The API also allows vehicle owners to share their car keys with others via the same mobile app. Jump to the next section of this blog for an example of how apps like Turo and Nabobil use digital car keys.

Here's what an unlock request on Smartcar looks like using Node.js:


“Smartcar presented the best opportunity to streamline our development effort and accelerate time-to-market by unlocking access to millions of cars. We loved the idea of a single set of APIs and a unified integration that would give our customers access to a huge variety of vehicles.”

— Elizabeth Nunley, Principal Product Manager at Turo | Read this case study 👉


Location API

Apps use a location API to give car sharing hosts and renters visibility into a vehicle’s last known location. When paired with the digital car key API, individuals can pick up a vehicle at a location that’s most convenient for them. Car sharing hosts can also confidently enroll their vehicles for contactless rentals because they can track their vehicles and minimize risk of theft.

Odometer API

Similar to the fuel tank check, car sharing applications automatically verify the vehicle’s odometer at the start and end of each car rental. When the driven mileage exceeds what renters paid for, the business automatically charges them and pays the difference to the vehicle owner.

EV battery API

With EV APIs, renters can use your app to check an EV’s battery level or capacity before selecting a vehicle for their trip. Accurate battery data can also help you increase supply and demand. For example, renters can have visibility into EVs that aren’t fully charged but still has enough range for shorter trips.

Having this data easily accessible also simplifies the process for vehicle hosts to invoice renters for EV charging costs. Instead of having to upload photos of EV battery levels, you can set up an automated flow that triggers invoice requests to be made for a trip when the battery falls below a specified level.

Fuel tank API

Using Smartcar’s technology, car sharing applications automatically verify a vehicle’s gas tank level at the end of each rental period. When the tank is only half full, car sharing companies immediately reimburse the owner and charge the renter a convenience fee. Vehicle owners don’t need to worry about sitting inside their vehicles, checking the fuel gauge, manually reporting issues, or waiting for payment approval.

Why integrate your car sharing app with a connected car API platform

Car sharing stands out to both vehicle owners and renters for a few reasons:

  • No dependency on fleet inventory
  • Lower prices
  • Instant bookings
  • The potential to monetize vehicles as a small business

Today, connected cars make up roughly 40% of all cars on the road. By 2035, 9 out of 10 cars on the road are expected to have built-in internet connectivity.

The future of car rentals and car sharing will revolve around giving renters the convenience of using software to locate, unlock, and return vehicles.

Here are four reasons why working with an API platform to implement and scale integrations with the popular connected car models:

Lower costs

Hardware bears a high initial acquisition cost and can become an unpredictable expense factor, for example, if vehicle owners stop renting out their cars but forget to return their devices or if vehicle owners churn before businesses can recover the hardware cost.

Hardware devices are also expensive to use. Costs for shipping, installation, firmware updates, and the replacement of lost or stolen devices quickly add up. These higher expenses also mean more trips are needed for companies and car sharing hosts to break a profit.

APIs, on the other hand, offer simple SaaS pricing that is easy to scale with product usage and business growth. Automatic software updates make Smartcar’s solution easy and inexpensive to maintain.

Faster product development

If you’re already looking into software-based integrations, then there’s also the question of deciding to build or buy your vehicle integrations.

Building vehicle integrations takes a lot of developer resources. Time and effort goes into standardizing data, identifying brand-specific edge cases,  keeping an eye out on changes in vehicle brand APIs, and maintaining integrations to reflect those changes and address errors.

It’s also important to remember that the integration you build today isn’t going to look the same in six months.  OEM APIs change regularly, with many changing monthly. By working with a car API provider, you’re essentially offloading resources for building and maintaining integrations so you can focus specifically on how the integrations work within your product to empower your users.

🧰 Wondering why companies use Smartcar’s integrations in their car sharing app?

If you’re deciding between building vehicle integrations or working with Smartcar’s standardized APIs, read our guide to learn:

  • How to know if your app will benefit from a decision to buy
  • The average resource expenditure for building vehicle integrations from scratch
  • A checklist for vetting potential integration vendors
  • 👉 Get your copy

Easier car rentals and pickups

Car sharing apps like Turo have the competitive advantage of giving vehicle owners and renters these digital features today. In a video by YouTuber and Turo power host, RC Simon, he explains how a customer used Turo to get a vehicle within 45 minutes after running into a rental booking problem after landing at the airport.

The customer used the app’s Smartcar-powered Turo Go feature with gives renters the ability to book vehicles in 5 minutes and have contactless pickup and drop-offs.

With Smartcar’s lock and unlock API, renters can pick up a vehicle by unlocking the doors through the app instead of arranging a time to meet and exchange physical car keys. Car owners can also share their vehicle’s location and mileage immediately after it’s linked.

Vehicle owners don’t need to install any aftermarket hardware in their cars, and they don’t need to be trained on how to use Smartcar’s technology. Connecting a vehicle takes only a few clicks in the car sharing app.

Fewer limitations on field operations

Vehicle owners can also use car sharing APIs to save money otherwise spent on local on-the-ground teams in hundreds of different locations.

They can provide rentals outside regular working hours without having to send representatives out in the field or set up offices in new locations. Businesses also won’t need as many staff members to improve on-site customer experience and manage long queues. As vehicle owners and renters don’t need to meet and exchange car keys, they can easily communicate and manage the entire rental remotely via the car sharing app.

Instant onboarding

It takes several days, if not weeks to ship hardware devices to the respective vehicle owner. Every day wasted on shipping hardware is a missed revenue opportunity for your car sharing business.

Hardware devices also don’t function correctly if they aren’t installed correctly. Companies either need to educate vehicle owners on how to install the devices correctly, or they have to build a network of technicians in every region to manage the installation work for them. Both siphon significant time and resources away from more important parts of the business.

With software-based integrations, vehicle owners can onboard their cars with a few clicks within the car sharing app. From here, they start using and sharing their digital car key immediately.

How companies use car sharing APIs

Market leaders like Turo set themselves apart with a seamless app experience that not only simplifies rentals but also encourages more vehicle owners to list their cars and add to the platform’s available vehicle supply.

With its contactless car sharing feature, Turo Go, the app has doubled down on the vehicle host and renter experience by allowing hosts to remotely unlock their car when guests arrive to pick it up. This removes the logistical friction of renting out multiple vehicles simultaneously. A 2020 study of Turo’s users found that 90% of hosts wanted their vehicles to be Turo Go-enabled.

The successful rollout of Turo Go was made possible through Smartcar’s lock and unlock APIs.

Our Smartcar Connect flow allows them to connect their vehicle with just a few clicks:

The digital car key API save vehicle owners and renters time and hassle. It creates a more seamless user experience and improves customer satisfaction for both parties.

Thanks to these time savings and flawless user experience, Turo has seen the number of bookings on their platforms increase after integrating with the Smartcar API.

Smartcar’s API for your car sharing app

Our API is compatible with over 30 vehicle brands, enabling your app to connect to more than 150 million cars across the United States, Canada, and Europe.

If you’re interested in learning more about our API for car sharing, you can download our white paper for a quick look at:

  • Why we’re the leading developer platform for car sharing businesses
  • How we provide value for your app
  • What your developer experience will look like with Smartcar resources

Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar or Turo.

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Maximizing energy incentives with user-friendly EV smart charging

Winona Rajamohan

5 min read

March 16, 2023
EV charging
Events
Live SiteStaging Site

In Smartcar’s joint webinar with Amp X, we explored the intricacies of smart charging and how a great user experience motivates engagement and action from EV owners. Read on for a recap of the event!

80% of EV charging happens at home, but research shows that only 35% of households with EVs in the US have Level 2 chargers that support managed charging.

Although we can assume that this percentage has climbed alongside the uptick in EV adoption, the fact remains that energy management efforts accommodate a wider range of EV drivers by not relying solely on charging hardware.

Here are a few takeaways from our discussion on how Amp X uses software-based EV integrations to empower the award-winning user experience of its smart charging app, Alice.

You can watch the full webinar replay here 📺

The opportunity for smart charging

The more distance an EV driver travels each week, the warier they are about how they charge their vehicle. Nearly half of EV drivers in Europe who travel over 1,000 kilometers (about 621 miles) a week say they are more aware of their home energy usage since switching to an EV, and energy prices have increased significantly in the past year.

But utilities and DERMS (Distributed Energy Resource Management System) providers are responding by equipping grids with the technology needed to manage power demand and supply across varied energy resources — including EVs.

Flexibility is essential for grids to remain resilient while working with distributed energy sources. Today, residential areas are a great space for utilities to deploy flexibility services in partnership with software-driven solutions. Energy providers benefit by being able to:

  • Accommodate the shorter windows of availability of renewable generation sources (e.g. sufficient solar energy only being available when there’s sunlight during the day)
  • Reduce peak load
  • Offset short-term market imbalances with flexible loads

On the other hand, EV drivers benefit by being able to optimize electricity consumption, lower electricity costs and carbon emissions, and generate revenue by allowing utilities or DERMS providers to proactively control their EV charging schedules.

How do Smartcar and Amp X work together?

There’s a human factor in enabling the success of grid flexibility services.

Consumers aren’t going to maximize energy incentives like tariffs and rebates without an easy user experience to help them stay on top of EV energy consumption and utility rates.

Amp X integrates with Smartcar’s EV APIs to power the Alice app, which gives residents a suite of features to manage their EV charging and contribute to grid decarbonization.

Smartcar’s API gives Alice compatibility with over 60+ EV models in Europe. Without installing any smart charging hardware, vehicle owners can tailor charging schedules to their unique preferences and view accurate EV data on the state of charge, cost savings, and carbon savings.

 


“It’s been absolutely strategic to work with Smartcar as an enabler for our technology because we've been allowed, essentially, to integrate with many different EV models. That clearly accelerates our ability to deploy and capture a greater cohort of possible users across different markets.”

Dr. Irene Di Martino, CEO at Amp X


 

Amp X kicked off the Smartcar integration with 50 households at Living Lab, a community of residents around the UK who volunteer their homes to test new energy initiatives.

These were the results:

🍃 Optimized pricing and carbon emissions from 300 smart charges in four months

⚡ 8 smart chargers per month per user

💰 33% cost savings per charge

It’s simple to connect an EV to Alice via Smartcar.

More highlights from our Q&A with Amp X 💡

During the webinar, we had a great discussion with the CEO of Amp X, Dr. Irene Di Martino on the future of grid resilience and smart charging solutions. We also got to answer many questions from the audience about the Smartcar and Amp X partnership.

We summarized a few main points below 👇 (but of course, you’ll get more details from watching the full webinar replay).

🔎 EV data from vehicle telematics vs chargers

EV telemetry data like a vehicle’s state of charge (SoC) and range are needed for residents to set their device preferences, KPIs, and charging schedules in the app.

EV chargers don’t provide this in-depth visibility.

This makes it difficult for grid solutions to decide on actions like delaying a discharge based on a vehicle’s current range, or starting a charge automatically so a vehicle has enough charge before a driver leaves for work in the morning.

👋 The user onboarding process

It isn’t enough to create a solution that lets residents manage their energy usage. It’s critical to build the solution’s value proposition around user experience to minimize drop-offs when connecting EVs and increase resident engagement for setting user preferences and acting on accurate data.

Amp X and Smartcar emphasize seamless interfaces residents can easily follow right from their first interaction with the app. Once a vehicle owner adds their EV to Alice, they’re brought through a three-click user authorization flow. In this flow, they’ll see a list of the exact data points required from the vehicle to enable smart charging.

From there, they can explicitly consent to share specific EV data with the app before taking any actions.

🛠 Interoperability standards

Although energy resources are becoming more varied, leveraging these resources effectively requires standardized data and integrations. Without standards for grid interoperability, it becomes extremely resource-intensive for utilities and their partners to scale demand management efforts at the pace required for net-zero targets.

 


“It’s a very complex ecosystem out there and one of the reasons we decided to work with Smartcar is essentially because having non-interoperable standards [for EVs] means a much more difficult game in getting those integrations.”

Dr. Irene Di Martino, CEO at Amp X


 

Are you launching an EV smart charging app or service?

If you’re curious to learn more about optimizing your EV charging business with software-based integrations and user experiences, watch a replay of the webinar here

We’ve also included some other helpful resources you can check out:

 


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar or Amp X

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EVs vs gas-powered cars: Which wins the emissions battle?

Winona Rajamohan

5 min read

March 14, 2023
EV charging
Live SiteStaging Site

With automakers worldwide planning to invest over $1 trillion into EV production, the race toward decarbonizing battery production is on.

Research by the IEA found that most CO2 emission reductions stemming from electrification between 2021 and 2030 will occur within the light-duty vehicles sector. In the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario, electrification should be able to avoid 1 Gigatonne (Gt) of CO2 emissions in 2030.

But there remain questions about the lifetime emissions of EVs compared to internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs), specifically regarding emissions from battery production and electricity as a power source.

In this blog, we summarize research discussing ICEV and EV emissions during the production and use phases of EVs and ICEVs. We also explore forward-looking trends on how increased adoption can lead to better technologies and market behavior that reduce production-related emissions.  

Manufacturing EVs vs ICEVs: Which releases more emissions?

EVs produce more emissions during manufacturing than ICEVs because of the amount of energy needed to extract and refine materials used to make batteries, like lithium, nickel, cobalt, and aluminum.

Compared to producing an ICEV of the same size, a battery-powered EV (BEV) can release 1.3 to 2 times more GHG emissions.

But these upfront emissions are greatly offset when the vehicles are in use.

Auke Hoekstra, director of energy transition research at the Eindhoven University of Technology, tells the New York Times that there are “no countries in the world where BEVs pollute more than internal combustion vehicles.”

Why? Because EVs can travel further with energy produced by their batteries.
A 2020 paper by Hoekstra also points out that recent strides in technology have made it possible for batteries to last over 500,000 km (a little over 310,000 miles), giving them a longer lifetime, higher energy efficiency, and as a result of that, significantly lower post-production emissions. In contrast, fuel is continuously produced and replenished to power an ICEV throughout the use phase.

Despite the higher emissions during manufacturing, EVs break even with ICEVs in about 1.5 years for sedans, 1.6 years for SUVs, and 1.9 years for pickup trucks. The absence of tailpipe emissions is the biggest difference between EVs and ICEVs.

One study found that BEVs produce between 30 and 40 tons of emissions over the first 150,000 miles, which is more than 50% lower than ICEVs which produce 65 to 90 tons in that same range.

Let’s break those numbers down so they’re a little easier to visualize regarding everyday driving distances. ICEVs release 8,887 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per gallon of fuel burned, which is roughly 410 grams of CO2 per mile. In comparison, EVs release only 110 grams of C02 per mile with the average US electricity mix.

Source: Fueleconomy.gov

EV emissions from electricity as an energy source

Another major concern with EVs is the impact of electricity sources used in battery production and during charging. However, research has shown that the impact of varying the source of electricity used in battery production on overall emissions is minimal.

A hypothetical study of battery production in China found that when upfront EV emissions were increased by 0.5 tons per vehicle, a process powered with 100% solar photovoltaics would reduce emissions by 0.7 tons. This difference has little impact on overall lifetime emissions because battery production only makes up 15% of overall battery pack emissions and an even smaller percentage of full life cycle emissions.

We’ll see the biggest benefits in reducing lifetime EV emissions by equipping high-carbon grids with more reliance on renewable energy sources. 20% of electricity in the US came from renewable energy sources in 2022, primarily hydropower, wind, and solar energy.

More importantly, grids are becoming cleaner every year. In the US, over 80% of new capacity added to the grid in 2021 came from renewable energy sources.

A 30% decrease in grid carbon intensity is enough to reduce EV emissions from battery production by 17%. More importantly, it significantly lowers grid emissions when more energy is used to charge EVs during the use phase.

⚡ How to scale EV integrations for your DERMS software

We explore how a connected car API platform helps DERMs software retrieve up-to-date EV information, remotely control charging, provide easy opt-in for residents, and connect to 100+ EV models with a single integration.

👉 Read our blog

Looking ahead: Fewer EV emissions, and more renewable energy

As EV adoption increases, we can expect utilities, automakers, and businesses to contribute to further emission reductions from when an EV is manufactured till the end of its lifetime. Here are a few avenues for further emissions reduction from EVs in the coming years:

🍃 Renewable energy

The ICCT reports that as the electricity mix continues to decarbonize in the coming years, we can expect EVs running on renewable energy to have up to 81% lower lifecycle emission production than ICEVs.

EVs don’t just benefit from renewable energy production, they also contribute to it. According to the California ISO, curtailing resources like solar energy is becoming common practice to manage the oversupply in the middle of the day when the sun is brightest. This results in much fewer opportunities for grids to generate carbon-free power.

The state found that enrolling 5 million EVs in managed charging programs in 2025 could reduce renewable energy curtailment by up to 40%. Smart charging apps and DERMS platforms use EV API platforms like Smartcar to actively control EV charging and optimize demand according to the availability of renewable energy sources.

🔋Evolution of batteries

As EV demand and manufacturing investments grow, so will research and development initiatives to improve battery technology.

In the US, battery cell production is estimated to grow more than tenfold, from less than 60 GWh in 2021 to more than 700 GWh by 2030. Emerging Tech Brew reported that automakers and businesses are innovating to optimize production affordability and battery efficiency. Smaller and lighter batteries are one way to make this happen.

For example, research published in 2022 found that solid-state batteries have a higher energy density and hence need an average of 24% fewer materials to manufacture. These energy-dense batteries can decrease production-phase emissions by 24% to 39%.

🛍 The used EV market  

EVs have lower maintenance costs, more advanced technologies, and longer lifespans. Buying a used EV not only opens the door for more affordable ownership, but it also directly reduces emissions from manufacturing new EVs to keep up with growing demand.

Recurrent is a battery report software that helps EV buyers and dealerships understand an EVs true range as the battery ages and informs decisions when purchasing used EVs. According to their research, the used EV market in the US has tripled in size in the last year and a half. The prices of used EVs have also dropped 17% from their peak in July 2022.

Are you building an app to help drivers understand and reduce their EV emissions?

EV APIs empower businesses with an easier way to disrupt costly hardware-based methods of vehicle data collection for more resource-efficient implementation, stable integrations, and an easier driver adoption curve.

Talk to our team to learn more about Smartcar’s EV API endpoints or download our free guide on the benefits of working with an API platform to scale integrations with 100+ EV models.

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How Amp X integrates with EVs to maintain grid flexibility

Winona Rajamohan

4 min read

February 15, 2023
Customer story
Energy
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Learn how the grid edge platform, Amp X, uses Smartcar’s API to communicate with EVs and proactively shape charging demand. Amp X’s integration with Smartcar powers a smart charging solution that lowers EV charging costs and maintains the stability of electric grids.

At a glance

🚧 Problem: Amp X wanted to cover the widest possible user base of EV drivers spread across different vehicle brands and models.

💡 Solution: Smartcar saved Amp X a significant amount of time in building a smart charging feature that can integrate with over 60 EV models in Europe.

📈 Results: With Smarcar’s integration, Amp X retrieves timely vehicle telematics data to power its smart charging feature. The reliability of the feature has helped Amp X reduce EV charging costs for users by 33%.


📺 Watch a replay of our webinar with Amp X on March 9 2023, Navigating the EV transition: Ensuring a cleaner and more efficient grid.

Tackling the 4 Ds of energy change

We’re in the middle of a global energy transition.

If targets for electric vehicles (EV) adoption are met,  an estimated 0.9 barrels of fuel can be displaced every day by 2025.

But this same target would also result in five times more electricity demand.

To keep our energy systems balanced, researchers have identified four principles that utilities and organizations can commit to. These are also known as the 4Ds of energy change:

  • Decarbonization: Committing to net zero emissions targets
  • Decentralization: Increasing distributed energy resources (DERs) at the edge of the grid
  • Digitalization: Leveraging the millions of digital devices that come online each day to power grid flexibility efforts
  • Democratization: Creating an environment where consumers can trade energy and flexibility within the energy marketplace.

Amp X, the technology arm of Amp Energy, aims to advance these principles by using technology to build user-friendly products for consumers to manage their energy consumption and effectively use renewable energy sources.

Their products include a smart transformer for distributed energy resources (DERs) and a platform to manage front-of-the-meter and behind-the-meter assets.

The platform integrated with Smartcar to power its third product, a user management system with smart charging capabilities called ALICE (Agent for Lifestyle-Based Intelligent Control of Energy). It has been successfully deployed in the UK and will be going live in Australia.


"EV smart charging unlocks domestic flexibility by bringing monetary and environmental benefits to users all while helping maintain grid stability.

Smartcar successfully allows us to communicate with and control the charging of any connected EV."


— Dr. Irene Di Martino, Head of Amp X


Using Smartcar’s API to help EV owners save money

Amp X’s smart charging feature lets users shift their EV charging periods during hours with lower-priced energy — which is also when electric grids are less stressed with large volumes of energy demand.

Today, there are two main pathways for smart charging services to communicate with and control EV charging: through EV chargers or through direct communication with EVs themselves.

“After researching the technology and the market, we came to the conclusion that communicating directly with the EV was the most versatile and efficient path,” says Di Martino.

Amp X searched for a solution that could make direct EV communication resource-efficient and easy to scale. They work with Smartcar because this allows them to integrate with over 100 EV models using a single API via the ALICE app.

“Utilizing Smartcar integrations saved us a great deal of time to achieve the desired smart charging features in our ALICE application,” Di Martino adds.

How AmpX evaluated Smartcar as their EV API platform

🔋 EV brand coverage

Smartcar is compatible with over 100 different EV models across 25 brands in Europe, Canada, and the United States.

🧰 Comprehensive API platform

Amp X is able to work with a collection of SDKs,standardized integrations, enterprise-grade security, and a pre-built consent-based OAuth2.0 flow.

📞 Quality of communication with the Smartcar team

Smartcar collaborated closely with Amp X to ensure a smooth and efficient implementation period for all vehicle integrations.

🤝 Customer support

Smartcar's dedicated technical support and Customer Success teams are ready to help through email, phone, or live chat.

Using Smartcar’s pre-built user authentication flow, EV owners are brought through a software-only onboarding process that allows them to:

  1. Link their vehicle to the ALICE app
  2. View the exact data that the app will be requesting from their EV
  3. Consent to that data being shared with Amp X

Amp X uses Smartcar to retrieve standardized data from EVs on battery status and capacity, charge status, location, and the ability to start and stop charging remotely. Amp X kicked off the Smartcar integration to test and deploy their smart charging feature, within a dynamic tariff scenario, to a cohort of trial users at the UK’s Living Lab.

The Living Lab is a community of residents around the UK who volunteer their homes to test new energy initiatives. This gives participating energy programs real-world data — real usage patterns from real people going about their day-to-day activities.

The feature was successfully rolled out to Living Lab residents in 2021 and 2022. The Smartcar-powered EV integration provided vehicle owners with a stable and reliable method to optimize charging schedules for lower energy prices without any after-market hardware or in-person operations using EV chargers.


On average, our users charged their EV eight times per month and saved about 33% of their typical charging costs.

— Dr. Irene Di Martino, Head of Amp X


Removing barriers to actively manage EVs

The Household Energy Price Index reports that electricity bills across 33 European capitals increased by 49% from November 2021 to November 2022.

“We believe that in the coming years, variable tariffs are going to be made widely available to the public,” says Di Martino. “This, in conjunction with the rise in EV adoption, will result in the need to manage EV charging so that it can be as financially convenient as possible [for consumers].”

Amp X expects EV telemetry to become the preferred pathway for smart charging, and the team is prepared to expand and accelerate efforts as EV ownership grows.

By strengthening its infrastructure with Smartcar, Amp X can easily deliver more value by expanding its geographic coverage, spending less time on API maintenance, increasing app uptime, and improving the quality of features with more granular EV data.


Visit the Amp X website to learn more about their grid-edge digital energy platform.  


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar or AmpX.

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Build vs Buy: Why mobility apps scale with car APIs (+ free guide)

Winona Rajamohan

7 min read

February 7, 2023
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

Researchers expect 76 million new connected cars to be shipped in 2023, including 400 new EV models. How do mobility apps ensure they can reach as many drivers as possible without spending all their time managing backend integrations?  For a deeper understanding of when to use a platform like Smartcar for your connected car integrations, read this summary of our Build vs Buy guide.

📝 Four roadblocks you can overcome with a car API platform:

  1. API errors
  2. Developer investment
  3. Security infrastructure
  4. Subsequent builds

When mobility apps consider a decision to build or buy vehicle integrations, we hear a few common concerns:

  • Will working with an external provider impact overall service reliability?
  • How will this affect the speed and quality of customer support to end users?
  • Does an off-the-shelf solution introduce friction while rolling out new features?

But the truth is, these concerns don’t define relationships with developer platforms. They’re vendor-specific and aren’t a limiting factor with the right collaboration. If your partnership with an integration provider is rooted in your mission to deliver better products, then you’ll be mitigating these risks by:

👉  Acquiring technical capabilities to minimize customer interruptions

👉  Using pre-built standardized elements to increase speed-to-market

👉  Having more resources on hand to focus on your core competencies

At the end of the day, the question of “do I build or do I buy” boils down to one major component of your business strategy: Your priorities.

In an episode of the Coverager Podcast, host Nick Lamparelli talks about how this decision-making process works for insurance companies breaking into new technologies. “Even if you have commitment [to build], you’re essentially deciding to build a second separate organization,” he says.


“Without a doubt, the Smartcar integration accelerated us by 6 to 12 months and millions of dollars of engineering work compared to building and maintaining API connections to individual auto manufacturers.”

— Scott Case, CEO at Recurrent

Read our Build vs Buy guide to learn how Recurrent leveraged a car API platform to scale their solution 📖


If launching great mobility apps faster is your priority, then here are four roadblocks you want to avoid:

API errors

Each OEM’s vehicle integration returns lots of data, along with unique error states that don’t always make sense. Standardizing this data takes an entire team — case in point being Smartcar as an organization solely focused on building and maintaining these APIs.

Our engineers have spent years (and are continuing to spend their days) figuring out what all these errors mean across brands and simplifying them into plain and simple language.

Error responses in Smartcar's API

And by simple, we mean simple enough that our customers use our error states in their end-user communication. The right integration partner aims to empower your customer support teams by minimizing the number of errors impacting customers at scale.

End-users only interact with Smartcar if rare unknown API errors happen or if they run into issues while trying to connect their cars — which our error descriptions aim to answer. In the latter scenario, your integration partner should work with your customer success team to build a communication loop that meets vehicle owner expectations.

Developer investment

It’s obvious that building vehicle APIs takes a lot of developer resources. But the time and energy that goes into maintaining an integration, let alone a network of integrations, will require you to again, revisit what your priorities are.

Are the integrations you’re building going to be the source of your business value? Or is it the solution you’re building to win customers in your market?

Let’s take EV battery analytics as an example. Almost three times more used vehicles are sold in the US annually compared to new vehicles. The used EV market is seen as a crucial avenue for boosting EV adoption. But vehicle dealers and owners need more information on used EV battery life to make these sales happen. That’s why EV battery report software, Recurrent, used speed to market as its advantage.

Recurrent’s success in their first year using Smartcar.

Recurrent would have needed four to five engineers to manage their EV integrations on an ongoing basis. With only two engineers at the company’s inception, building APIs would have prevented them from quickly launching their business to seize a market opportunity.

DIMO's user-owned drivers' network gives vehicle owners and developers the ability to share data on their terms and get rewarded for it along the way. Built on the principles of web3 technology, their team of automotive experts knew they would benefit more by spending their team shipping valuable features for end-users instead of handling backend integrations.

You can watch DIMO and Recurrent talk about their decision in a replay of our Build vs Buy webinar — here's a short snippet.

It’s also important to remember that the integration you build today isn’t going to look the same in six months.  

That’s because OEM APIs change regularly, with many changing monthly. Your engineers must identify and troubleshoot these odd error states without impacting your product’s reliability and uptime. Smart charging app, Optiwatt, stopped building its vehicle integrations because developers had to frequently switch their focus away from core features and spend their time patching backend API issues instead.

Security infrastructure

On top of building vehicle integrations, there’s the question of security. Do you have the resources to build and secure a user authorization system for end users to log in?

There are a few things you need to protect vehicle owner data:

OAuth2.0 flow

Most vehicle owners aren’t going to trust an app with the login credentials for their connected services account. All requests made to Smartcar’s API require an access token to prevent login credentials from being compromised, and to implement a permissions system based on user preferences. Our customers incorporate this into their app with our pre-built OAuth 2.0 flow, Smartcar Connect, that works across all 30+ of our compatible brands.

Consent-based data sharing

Automotive data marketplaces tend to sell vehicle data that consumers have unknowingly signed away their rights when using certain products and services. As a developer platform, we don’t help companies sell driver data to others. Instead, we want mobility apps to build trust with end users by clearly outlining the vehicle data that is being requested along with a visible call-to-action for vehicle owners to accept or not accept the terms listed. This permission-based consent flow is included in Smartcar’s SDKs.

Enterprise-grade security compliance

From certifications like SOC 2 Type 2 and GDPR to HTTPS data encryption, penetration testing, and more, a custom integration calls for you to cover compliance needs yourself — and cutting corners imposes big risks for both your end users and you. On the other hand, great API providers bridge this gap for you in addition to having dedicated resources for continuous API monitoring and live error reporting.

Subsequent builds

But wait, you’re not done.

In fact, you’re going to do it all over again for each car brand and model you want to serve. And your process will look something like this….(we know because we build a lot of integrations)

Scalability can be a real punch in the gut, especially if you’re trying to reach vehicle owners across multiple brands. Because each integration comes with its own set of edge cases and oddities, you need team members dedicated to the little details — people who can catch the cracks on the surface before they erupt into a crisis.

For example, Optiwatt's mission is to make charging more affordable for EV owners across different brands using smart charging. But with automakers releasing electric models at a rapid pace, it became difficult for the app to keep up with building new integrations while developing a great product and providing a stellar customer experience.

That’s where an API provider gives you value: By giving you the building blocks you need to create the best technical infrastructure to support your growth without compromising your product roadmap.

Build or buy? 4 questions to give your app clarity

When we spoke to transportation consultant Warren Logan about the impact of mobility technology, he shared that emerging transportation apps and solutions are pushing everyday citizens to expect more from their mobility options — and it’s something they can look forward to today, not in a hundred years from now.

Whether you build or buy, your goal is to create apps and services that help as many travelers and commuters as possible. As long as you know your core competencies and capabilities, you can protect your great ideas from technical mishaps and ethical shortcomings.

We’ll leave you with four questions to think about, and a guide you can download to learn more about building and buying vehicle integrations:

  1. Are you integrating with more than one car brand?
  2. Will you have your own systems for user authorization and data-sharing consent?
  3. Will you have sufficient developer resources to maintain a competitive advantage?
  4. Are you giving your engineers enough bandwidth to be creative, detail-oriented, and transformative for your organization?
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5% sales and beyond: 7 key electric vehicle stats

Winona Rajamohan

8 min read

January 24, 2023
EV charging
Live SiteStaging Site

A lot happened in the EV space in 2022. The rise of EV adoption has brought us more insights — like EV statistics about sales increases, the cost of ownership, and how EVs can impact our energy bills. In this article, we summarize our favorite EV statistics from the past year that shine a light on what to expect moving forward.

📝 Not enough time? Jump to the EV statistic you want to know most about:

  1. The United States has reached the 5% tipping point for EV adoption
  2. More than 1.5 million new EVs were sold in 2022 across the US and Europe
  3. Global automakers will invest over $1 trillion in EVs and batteries from now until 2030
  4. The number of charging ports in the US increased by 29% from 2021 to 2022
  5. EVs are 3 to 5 times cheaper to drive per mile than gas-powered vehicles
  6. EVs can cut fleet maintenance costs by half
  7. Less than 15% of EV charging for time-of-use rate customers occurred during on-peak hours

The United States has reached the 5% tipping point for EV adoption

(Source: Bloomberg)

In the first nine months of 2022, battery-powered EVs (BEVs) accounted for 5.2% of all new light-vehicle registrations. A year ago, this number was 2.8%.

When you look at EV adoption data from countries like Norway, China, and South Korea, you’ll notice an S-shaped curve that took off right around the 5% mark.

18 countries before the United States (13 of them located in Europe) have already seen their EV sales exceed 5% of total new car sales. After that point, sales took off. EV sales in Europe are now at a 10.6% market share.

What caused this upward trend?

EV production has met the same obstacles worldwide: disrupted supply chains, weak charging infrastructure, limited government investment and incentives, and a lack of EV awareness and education among vehicle buyers.

Bloomberg’s Tom Randall writes that “once the road has been paved for the first 5%, the masses soon follow.”

In the US, efforts to overcome the aforementioned obstacles include $7.5 billion dollars for a network of 500,000 chargers, federal tax credits on EVs, and $20.8 billion for the production of lithium-ion batteries.

More than 1.5 million new EVs were sold in 2022 across the US and Europe

(Source: EV Universe)

The EV Universe newsletter analyzed EV registration data in the US and Europe and highlighted some great findings. Let’s dive into each region.

👉 US:

At the end of 2021, there were roughly 2 million electric light-duty vehicles on the road — including 700,000 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). This is more than triple the number of EVs in operation five years ago.

530,577 new battery electric vehicles (BEVs) were sold in the first nine months of 2022. This puts the US at 57% growth year-over-year for BEVs, and brings the total number of EVs in operation closer to the next million mark.

Electric vehicle sales in the US through the years
EV sales through the years in the US (Source: IEA)

👉 Europe:

At the end of 2021, there were roughly 5.5 million EVs on the road — including 2.5 million PHEVs. This brings the total number of EVs in operation to over nine times what it was five years ago.

EV sales have steadily increased since then, with 1,002,720 new BEVs registered from January to September 2022. In October, the total market share for BEVs in Europe stood at 13.6%.

Electric vehicle sales in Europe through the years
EV sales through the years in Europe (Source: IEA)

Global automakers will invest over $1 trillion in EVs and batteries from now until 2030

(Source: Reuters)

Reuters conducted an analysis of 37 automakers in 2022 and discovered that projected investments are more than double their calculations published in 2021.

According to the study, the companies expected to produce the most EVs in 2030 are Tesla, Volkswagen Group, Toyota, Hyundai/Kia, Stellantis, General Motors, and Ford.  

Looking back at the early days of EV adoption, we might imagine many Teslas. But Tesla is no longer the only automaker committing to the mass production of electric vehicles. A report by S&P Global Mobility shows that the brand made up 79% of all new US EV sales in 2020, but its majority declined to 65% in Q3 of 2022.

More US states are joining California’s pledge to ban gas-powered cars by 2035. The same decision has been made in the European Union.

As a result, we see an uptick in automakers launching more affordable EV models to rival Tesla — like the Hyundai IONIQ 5 and Kia EV6 which have been climbing their way up the sales charts.

Best-selling EV models in the US (2022)
2022's best-selling EV models in the US (Source: Elektrek)

Smartcar's API is compatible will over 100 EV models — including the ones on this list. Check out our compatibility page to see all the makes and models your app can connect to using Smartcar! 📈

The number of charging ports in the US increased by 29% from 2021 to 2022

(Source: Visual Capitalist, Elektrek)

One of the biggest bottlenecks for widespread EV adoption is the availability of charging infrastructure, which should be as convenient as pulling up to a gas station and filling up your tank. There are 145,000 gas stations in the US today — almost triple the number of EV charging stations.

The EV charging landscape is far from pretty. But it isn’t all bad news.

There were roughly 108,000 charging ports in the US in 2021. Last year, government officials reported that this number climbed to about 140,000 ports across 53,000 charging stations.

The minimum standards have been set for states to access the first $5 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure bill, so we can expect more requests for proposals to start coming in over the next few months.

Building a new renewable energy infrastructure from the ground up will take time, but the Department of Energy (DOE) calls on the help of technology innovators to make it easier for utilities to accommodate more EV charging.

DOE’s Alejandro Moreno tells Utility Dive that the biggest challenges lie in aggregating and managing new energy demand. “The ability of demand flexibility to provide critical services to the grid is essential,” he says.

🔌 What increasing power outages tell us about grid modernization

90% of top utilities leverage technology partnerships. Learn how utilities are using software to increase grid reliability.

👉 Read our blog

EVs are 3 to 5 times cheaper to drive per mile than gas-powered vehicles

(Source: Zero Emission Transportation Association)

The Zero Emission Transportation Association (ZETA) compared the operating costs of gas-powered vehicles and EVs across the US. The full report highlights a few reasons why EVs ownership proves to be more affordable in the long run:

  • EVs are not influenced by the volatility of gas prices and can instead operate on stable, renewable, and locally-produced energy sources
  • EVs operate at a lower cost per mile than gas-powered vehicles because the average price per kilowatt-hour of energy is much lower than the average price per gallon of gasoline
  • EVs can save drivers between $1,800 and $2,600 on operating and maintenance costs
Total cost per mile of driving gas-powered vehicles and electric vehicles
Total cost per mile of driving gas-powered vehicles and electric vehicles (Source: Zero Emission Transportation Association)

The up-front costs of EVs have been one of the biggest obstacles holding mass adoption back. But with more competition between automakers and regulations like the Inflation Reduction Act, the prices of new EVs are dropping.

On January 13, 2023, Tesla announced it was dropping prices across its lineup in the US, Canada, and Europe. In the US, price cuts fall between the range of $3,000 to $19,000.

Other EV models with reduced prices in 2023 include the Chevrolet Bolt and Bolt EUV, Nissan Leaf, and Hyundai Kona Electric.

EV accessibility will continue to be an uphill battle, but we don’t have to rely solely on tax credits and automakers to make affordability a reality. Stacy Noblet, VP of Transportation Electrification at ICF, tells us that opportunities also lie in the used EV market, rideshare, and the involvement of utilities in planning charging infrastructure.

Access to mobility data will be critical to bridging gaps in our sustainable mobility ecosystem.  

“There's some cool data that can come out of rideshare about where [EVs] are traveling, how they're picking up people, and that will help inform programs moving forward,” she says. “The data that comes out of those pilots can really point to gaps that we may not be aware of.”

EVs can cut fleet maintenance costs by half

(Source: The Driven)

Research shows that consumers who use car sharing services like Turo are more likely to find EVs useful and reliable.

Car rental operator, Hertz, revealed that the cost of maintaining their Tesla fleets is 50 to 60% lower than their gas-powered fleets. The durability of EV parts also results in fewer rental cars being taken off the road to be serviced.

Low maintenance costs and more rental uptime can help fleet operators provide more affordable options at scale. On top of that, it encourages low-emission travel without making private EV ownership a requirement.

Companies like Zeti are also making it easier for fleet operators to finance their EVs through a pay-per-mile model that makes operating costs more sustainable for companies with variable fleet usage.

Less than 15% of EV charging for time-of-use rate customers occurred during on-peak hours

(Source: CleanTechnica)

A recurring argument against EV adoption is that it would raise energy prices even further by straining the grid during peak periods and incurring more costs for system upgrades.

But a study by Synapse Energy debunked the theory and discovered that in some US service territories, EV charging had contributed roughly $1.7 billion more in revenue than utility costs. This resulted in lower electricity rates for all customers.

The study cites that the main reason why EV revenue outweighs costs is that EV charging usually takes place during off-peak hours. Only 9 to 14% of time-of-use (TOU) rate customers charge during hours of higher demand, while the rest charge overnight when the grid has more capacity.

Proactively shifting EV charging to off-peak times will not only increase revenue and lower overall electricity rates, but also allows our grid to accommodate more EVs without having to reconstruct distribution systems from scratch.

How smart charging can help drivers take advantage of hours with lower electricity demand
How smart charging can help drivers take advantage of hours with lower electricity demand (Source: Optiwatt and Leap Energy)

Companies like Optiwatt, Rolling Energy Resources, and EnergyHub work with utilities to make their systems more flexible with managed charging programs. This allows electricity providers to start and stop charging according to the volume of demand or the availability of renewable energy.

What this means for the future of mobility

Smartcar works with mobility innovators equipping consumers, governments, and energy providers with the flexibility to make EVs work for them. Our EV APIs are used to power apps for zero-emission car sharing and rentals, smart charging, fleet financing, auto insurance, and more.

If you’re interested in hearing more EV industry news and the opportunities it holds for mobility apps, subscribe to our newsletter and book a meeting with our team to learn about our EV APIs.

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How Bumper uses Smartcar to power its predictive maintenance

Winona Rajamohan

4 min read

January 9, 2023
Customer story
Live SiteStaging Site

Bumper uses Smartcar's car API to turn real-time vehicle data into proactive maintenance alerts so you can get your car fixed before it breaks.  

At a glance

🚧 Problem: Bumper wanted a stable and accurate source of real-time vehicle telematics data to feed their predictive maintenance dashboard.

💡 Solution: Smartcar helped Bumper provide its users with timely maintenance alerts and status updates while keeping vehicle and driver data completely secure.

📈 Results: Vehicle owners who connect their cars through Smartcar have a 19% better retention rate than users who do not.

The Bumper team is building a new experience for buying, selling, and monitoring used vehicles. Their goal? Lowering the cost of owning a car.

Its vehicle history reports help buyers access information that signals a higher risk of unforeseen problems and may influence a purchase decision — like if a vehicle has been in an accident, stolen, or salvaged.

Bumper also uses real-time vehicle telematics to alert users when their vehicle needs service. By using Smartcar’s API to onboard and integrate with vehicles, they’re able to build in-depth vehicle dashboards and personalized notifications for drivers without installing any after-market hardware.

The cost of vehicle ownership is at a record high

It’s never been more expensive to be a vehicle owner. The average cost of a vehicle in the US is over $10,000 annually, with monthly payments for new vehicles hitting an all-time high this year.

Used vehicles aren't giving buyers the financial relief they’re looking for either.

Bumper is on a mission to help vehicle owners spend less money on unexpected maintenance, especially timely, given that the price of car parts has increased by almost 15% this year alone.

They’re doing this with a vehicle data dashboard that helps users stay on top of maintenance schedules, avoid costly breakdowns, and preserve the value of a vehicle.

More importantly, Bumper delivers maintenance information how users want it — with personalization and proactiveness.

A survey by PEGA found that 65% of vehicle owners want to be alerted when it’s time to schedule a service. This is an area where automaker apps and services fall short of the standards many drivers want.

That’s where Bumper comes in.


“Our goal is to provide customers more precise predictions on when they might need to service their vehicles. We’re making this happen by using Smartcar to get a vehicle’s real-time mileage and predict its next tire, brake, and oil change.”

— Alessandro Mannino, Director of Product at


How Bumper evaluated Smartcar as their car API platform

🤩 Ease of use for Bumper customers

Vehicle owners are brought through a three-click onboarding process that doesn't involve any aftermarket hardware installation.

Data permissions and privacy protocols are also clearly displayed within the onboarding flow so drivers don't have to jump between different website pages to search for additional information.

🔏 Data security and privacy protocol

Smartcar offers SOC 2 Type 2 compliance, data encryption, and undergoes rigorous annual pen testing.

⚡ Timeliness of telematics data

Smartcar's wide collection of standardized API endpoints allows Bumper to easily retrieve vehicle data at regular intervals.

🚘 Vehicle brand coverage

Smartcar is compatible with over 153 million vehicles worldwide across 30+ brands.

🧰 Ease of implementation

Developers work with a clear and detailed set of resources, including easy-to-use APIs, SDKs, and a powerful self-service dashboard. Our dedicated technical support and customer success teams are also ready to help through email, phone, and live chat.

To give users the on-demand convenience they were looking for, Bumper needed a solution that could feed vehicle metrics to their dashboard without a long wait.

They evaluated using OBD-II dongles and concluded that waiting for a hardware device to install would be a poor user experience.

With hardware out of the picture, it was now a question of finding the right software solution. Bumper evaluated Smartcar against building their own vehicle integrations with OEMs. Ultimately, Bumper settled on Smartcar's API because it provided the most efficient implementation of integrations across a wide range of vehicle brands and models.

Security also played an important role in their decision-making process. On top of enterprise-grade certifications and continuous API monitoring, Smartcar’s platform comes with a pre-built OAuth 2.0 flow that works with all compatible brands.

What success looks like for Bumper 📈

With predictive maintenance as a core feature, Bumper wanted to see higher customer satisfaction rates for their Bumper Connect feature.

“By providing our users with accurate suggestions for when they need maintenance, we’re able to satisfy their needs as a car owner much longer,” said Alessandro Mannino, Director of Product at Bumper.

According to internal data, they’ve successfully delivered a user experience that motivates vehicle owners to continue leveraging proactive maintenance. They’ve seen this translate into a 19% retention rate among users that onboarded to Bumper via Smartcar Connect.

How the integration works

Using Smartcar’s API, Bumper can pull a vehicle’s attributes, odometer readings, fuel tank levels, and tire pressure. These metrics are displayed on the Bumper Connect dashboard for users to quickly review vehicle health metrics and stay on track with vehicle services.

Bumper retrieves vehicle data via Smartcar’s API frequently enough to become a reliable source of information for timely vehicle analysis and maintenance suggestions.

For example, they use odometer readings to curate a list of suggested actions to take at specific mileage points, like changing a car’s engine oil and checking tire rotation at ‘X’ amount of miles.

The onboarding process is simple. Once drivers sign up for a Bumper account, they’re ready to connect their car with three simple steps:

  1. Sign in to their connected services account
  2. Review the data permissions requested by Bumper
  3. Consent to sharing those specific data points

The convenience of a software-enabled integration assures Bumper that their customers will always have accurate vehicle insights without the need for cumbersome hardware devices.

Interested in trying Bumper for yourself? Visit their website to create an account or run a quick check on your car’s estimated value using its VIN number, license plate, or year, make, and model.


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar or Bumper.

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The sustainable mobility satisfaction gap: How to bridge siloes with connected data

Winona Rajamohan

8 min read

January 1, 2023
Car sharing
EV charging
Energy
Live SiteStaging Site

In this article, we talk to transportation experts Warren Logan, Venkatesh Gopal, and William Riggs about the three sustainable mobility narratives  —  electrification, shared mobility, and low-mobility societies. They share their thoughts on how new sustainable mobility technology can advance public initiatives and infrastructure through stronger collaboration within the mobility sector.

 



Warren Logan

is a partner at Lighthouse Public Affairs. With a background in transportation planning across the Bay Area, he previously served as the Policy Director of Mobility and Interagency Relations for the Mayor's Office of Oakland and managed shared mobility policy with San Francisco County Transportation Authority.

William Riggs

is a professor at the University of San Francisco where he leads their Autonomous Vehicles and the City Initiative. With a background as a practicing planner, his research focuses on smart mobility as a discipline. Riggs works with companies and cities to provide maximal access to the most people through data-driven transport.


Venkatesh Gopal

is a consultant at movmi, an agency specializing in shared mobility architecture with projects across North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America. Gopal works with partners to design shared mobility systems, build technology strategies, aid cities in policy work, and more efforts to integrate shared mobility into local communities.



 

There’s a misalignment of goals between travelers and our transportation system.

After COVID-19, access to a personal vehicle has become an even bigger priority for travelers.

Source: McKinsey

But for governments and public organizations, lowering carbon emissions is a focal point for transportation policy and funding.

The good news is that mobility technology makes it possible to keep both sustainability goals and consumer trust in check.

“Private companies thrive by putting on other hats and knowing what their customers need and want,” Logan says.

Case in point: sustainable mobility innovations like electric vehicles, car sharing, and ride-hailing have always been rooted in consumer preferences for convenience and safety. Out of the 63% of consumers who want to commute with a personal car, more than half want a fully electric, plug-in hybrid, or hybrid vehicle.

But there are fundamental issues that cannot be solved by technology alone — like the high costs of EVs, the reliability of multimodal public transport, and breaking down a culture that prioritizes private gas-powered vehicles. That’s where stronger collaboration within sustainable transport ecosystems can make a difference.

How are mobility applications impacting our transportation systems today?


Warren: I think that the entrance of tech companies into the mobility space has, for the better, really pushed government, private actors, and everyday citizens to rethink how we make transportation decisions, our mobility options, access outcomes, and so on.

It's not about expecting more from cars themselves, but that we can expect to use multiple tools to get to where we’re going. This isn’t something we have to look forward to in a hundred years, we can have it right now, we can have it tomorrow, we can have it in a year. And that's exciting.


William: I think there is some fear in the industry that creates siloization. It’s great to see the emergence of industry groups where technology-oriented providers are doing advocacy and education back to the public sector because there’s an opportunity to create more financially viable models in the future, particularly when we think about automation and what Smartcar is doing.

We can fill some of the revenue gaps that transportation and transit have had for years but it can only be done if we’re willing to sit at the table with the spirit of trust.

How to improve partnerships with data-driven transport

Many mobility software work with public agencies to integrate their solutions into local infrastructure and communities. Public agencies benefit from this collaboration too, rallying innovative partners to provide consumer-focused resources and expertise.

But to maximize these partnerships and build a reliable sustainable mobility plan, mobility data must be shared with minimal friction and fragmentation.

That means using automation and standardization strategically to quickly understand how we can give people the highest degree of transportation access in the least carbon-intensive ways possible.

Fewer siloes. Less hardware. More communication between different players in the transportation system.

Here’s how mobility application providers can foster better relationships with local agencies:

Identify how you're helping the broader community

Logan says emerging technology apps have to learn how they can accommodate the needs of local representatives and communities for better urban mobility.

“Try understanding the perspective of your government regulator, transportation planner, economic development head, and so on. Their core focus is making the mobility system better, and zooming even further out than — how can they help residents be the best of themselves,” he adds.

A common example is how cities monitor and manage ride-hailing patterns for land use planning and congestion control.

A 2017 report published during Logan’s time at the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) found that ride-hailing companies better served historically Black lower-income neighborhoods than taxis and transit.

“But while we discovered that, it was never a talking point from the companies themselves,” Logan adds. “That seemed like a missed opportunity to say that we’re helping this entire district of people that feel like the city’s mobility system has ignored them.”

Create pathways to faster infrastructure improvement

There’s a big opportunity for sustainable transportation technology to redefine how residents and commuters interact with aging infrastructure — like electrical grids over a century old — and systems that encourage non-sustainable travel — like the dependence on fuel taxes.

Power providers, who play a critical role in advancing EV targets and building EV charging networks, are working closely with technology partners on demand response programs. Rolling Energy Resources is a consulting firm that uses real-time EV charging data from electric vehicles to help power providers conduct load management analysis.

Riggs says companies have yet to improve how “distributed storage can be about the shared vehicle parked on your block or the electric vehicle in your garage.” Grid modernization efforts through APIs and vehicle-to-grid communication will evolve over the coming years, especially with 90% of leading utilities working with technology companies on new demand response initiatives.

States are also working with tech partners to build equitable mechanisms for funding roads and highways without relying on the gas tax.

Gas taxes per gallon in each US state (Source: American Petroleum Institute)

“The fact is, people that can’t afford EVs are paying more at the pump to provide well-paved roads,” Riggs says. Local agencies are partnering with technology partners to create secure digital mechanisms for assigning pricing values to miles driven in a clean vehicle.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in Utah and Virginia works with Emovis to securely access data from a vehicle’s odometer via Smartcar for pay-per-mile road usage charge. This incentivizes states to push for better EV policies without feeling they have to compromise traditional transportation funding sources.

Influence progress across other mobility sectors

Show public partners how your data can be used across broader system-wide initiatives, like using data from electrification and shared mobility services to help city planners improve access to EV chargers or other modes of transport.

Research shows that consumers with car sharing experience are more likely to find EVs useful and reliable.  Car sharing has already been identified by cities like Boston, Denver, and Los Angeles, as an effective way to transition communities toward EV ownership without having them own an EV of their own.

Gopal says EV charging infrastructure has yet to define charging station uptime and how to justify land use investment for these chargers. A survey by JD Power found that one out of every five people did not charge their vehicle at a public charger because many stations were out of service.

“EV chargers now aren’t connected enough for us to understand how well they’re being utilized,” he adds. “But we could use car sharing data to find operational hotspots and determine where EV charging hubs can be placed to reduce car trips they need to take to charge their vehicle and make sure that these assets are being utilized."

How can mobility technology bridge siloes within mobility systems?


William: One of the ideas I talk about in my work is the idea of an ecosystem approach. If you’ve been to Paseo Bandera in Santiago, Chile, you’ll see that you can have these streets for slow-moving vehicles, pedestrians, and clear spaces for cycling. That’s when we think about the opportunity for technology.

The future of app-based and data-driven transport should be around behavioral nudges, providing people more information about the sustainability of their commute, and disaggregating ownership by placing shared vehicles out in communities — like what Turo is doing to the car rental market.


Venkatesh: The first parameter that dictates whether people commute sustainably or not is the continuity of a physical network enabling such modes. But from the technology side of things, that’s where mobility-as-a-service comes into the picture.

In Metro Vancouver, we worked on the Translink MaaS pilot — the first phase of which ended in 2020 — where a special transit fare card was introduced to access car sharing, bike sharing, and public transit. Even in this low-tech environment, with just a card enabling seamless access, we saw 60% of participants change their travel patterns from private cars to other sustainable modes. So by having this option to access more through an app, people can change their behavior. That’s an ideal example of how public and private sectors work well together.

🔑 Learn how Turo uses Smartcar's API to increase bookings with contactless car sharing — read the case study.

Shaping new habits with mobility data

Data-driven transport improves partnerships between companies and local agencies by making information accessible to create more personalized mobility experiences and opportunities for behavioral nudges.

We’ve seen how apps can disaggregate trips into multimodal travel based on our location or a specified time window. We’re also seeing apps apply behavioral psychology to motivate better mobility choices — like how Caremiles rewards drivers for carbon-friendly behavior using data on a vehicle’s mileage and fuel efficiency.

We now have the means to automate data retrieval from connected vehicles without taking away consumer choice. This gives technology applications more bandwidth to build relationships within our mobility ecosystems and create expansive programs that boost ridership across all modes of sustainable transport.

So what exciting things will we see next? Check out our guide to car APIs to learn how app developers are using software-based solutions to act on connected car data today.

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A year of growth: Smartcar's 2022 product highlights

Winona Rajamohan

5 min read

December 20, 2022
Product
Events
Live SiteStaging Site

Our end-of-year New at Smartcar event showcases all our new product releases and milestones achieved in 2022. We’re excited to show you Smartcar’s growth over the past 12 months and how it empowers more developers to build mobility apps on our platform. You can watch a replay of the event here 📺

Why we protect driver privacy

Outside of housing, transportation makes up the biggest chunk of household spending.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that over a third of consumers in America were financing new vehicles in the first half of 2022.

“Often, cars are the only way people can get to work, school, grocery stores, or hospitals,” said Smartcar CEO, Sahas Katta, during our New at Smartcar: Winter 2022 showcase. “Mobility presents paths to opportunities and a better life.”

Although 9 out of 10 vehicles on the road are shipped with internet connectivity, there remains a big disconnect between vehicle owners and their ability to choose automotive services that excite and benefit them the most.

At Smartcar, we’re motivated by a desire to give connected car owners more autonomy over their vehicle experience. That may mean:

🍃  Choosing the most suitable EV charging management solution

💰  Opting for more accurate usage-based auto insurance premiums

🚘  Having the convenience of locating and using a shared vehicle when needed

To build and uphold this innovative ecosystem of automotive apps, there has to be a firm understanding of a vehicle owner’s choice to share mobility data.

Take a look at this snippet from Sahas about our stance on vehicle owner choice 👇

You can also read about our consent-based OAuth2.0 flow, Smartcar Connect, or view a list of our platform’s security features.

50% more compatible brands

The Smartcar platform is now compatible with 33 vehicle brands and over 153 million connected cars.

Check out our brand compatibility page for a list of all our compatible brands, makes, and models.

100% of customers are now using V2.0 of our API

A few months ago, we announced that we would officially retire version 1.0 of our API. Version 2.0 of the Smartcar API is our biggest effort to incorporate customer feedback around error handling, data polling, and data granularity.

You can read more details about V2.0 of the Smartcar API on our blog, but we wanted to highlight two significant features our new API introduces:

Brand-specific endpoints

We launched brand-specific endpoints earlier this year to keep to our new requirement of building endpoints: If the vehicle data is available, developers should be able to access it if vehicle owners find it useful.

In addition to the endpoints available in our Standard API, V2.0 comes with a set of unique endpoints for Tesla, Cadillac, and Chevrolet vehicles. Apps can access this additional data while maintaining the standardized error codes, permissions, and simple compatibility checks offered by our Standard API.

We’d like to call out a few of our most requested brand-specific endpoints:

  1. Tesla EV charging amperage: Use amperage data in your smart charging app to prevent sudden spikes after a demand response event.
  2. Cadillac EV charging voltage: Use charge voltage data to improve your understanding of battery health and prevent battery degradation from fast charging.
  3. Chevrolet charging completion time: Get visibility into the average charge rate of Chevrolet vehicles during a session and predict their battery life and performance.

Smartcar webhooks

Version 2.0 of our API gives users a better experience when receiving app notifications regarding vehicle events and updates. Here are two ways you can use Smartcar webhooks:

  1. Event-based webhooks: Send notifications to vehicle owners based on specific actions, like when a vehicle starts charging, stops charging, or completes a charging session.
  2. Scheduled webhooks: Send recurring notifications to vehicle owners based on a set schedule.

Why apps use our EV battery capacity endpoint

EV battery capacity our most popular endpoint — and we’re excited to make it available for our customers in Europe this year!

This means smart charging apps can now connect to vehicles across 29 countries in Europe in addition to Canada and the United States.

EV battery capacity data is a crucial component of demand response and smart charging initiatives. It allows apps to better determine the best times for starting and stopping a charge while giving vehicle owners more visibility and control over their EV charging schedules.

FlexCharging is a managed charging platform that helps EV owners reduce charging costs and carbon emissions by optimizing their charging schedules according to grid demand.

FlexCharging uses the EV battery capacity endpoint to determine how much energy an EV needs and how long it will take to reach a driver’s preferred charging level. They also use the charging status and battery capacity endpoint to deliver the best charging experience.

Doubling down on the developer experience

The Smartcar dashboard was another major area of focus this past year. We’re thrilled to see so many developers using Dashboard Insights to get a holistic view of all their Smartcar integration data.

You can now use the dashboard to view all your successful API requests, active vehicles, and status codes. On our new navigation bar, you’ll also be able to access our all-new vehicle test simulator.

What does our vehicle test simulator do? Here’s how car sharing app, Tapcar, uses this feature to accelerate production 👇
 


"Vehicle simulator has been very helpful in giving us a more realistic expectation for how our application will work in production and understand edge cases around specific models and years for a car brand.

Understanding how much latency is expected in production per OEM and endpoint is incredibly helpful for us to build a better user experience for our customers."

— Dennis Brandenberger, CEO and founder at Tapcar


 
You can also watch our webinar replay to catch a full demo of the Smartcar dashboard and vehicle test simulator.

We’re ready to keep building a better future for mobility 🍃

We’ve seen many big mobility ideas come to life and grow on our platform.

Today, developers use our car API to integrate with over 100 EV models. We’ve supported nationwide launches of contactless car sharing features, and we’ve worked with innovators who are introducing user-owned networks of vehicle data and reimagining EV fleet financing.

We’re excited to continue redefining our ecosystem of mobility apps in 2023 – stay tuned for more brands, platform improvements, and trailblazing mobility use cases from our community of connected car developers!

Don't forget to watch a replay of New at Smartcar: Winter 2022 if you want more information on all our 2022 updates 📺
 


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar.

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How to prepare vehicle owners for Smartcar Connect

Winona Rajamohan

5 min read

November 28, 2022
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

First impressions matter. For drivers, their first impression of a mobility app is formed when they start connecting their car to the features they need. Vehicle owners want a secure integration that doesn't add friction to their existing transportation habits. They don't want to spend unnecessary time and effort fiddling with app settings every single time.

All of our customers use Smartcar Connect to give drivers a smooth and secure process for connecting vehicles to their app.

In this blog, we share a few best practices and examples that you can follow to prepare your customers for Smartcar Connect and drive more user conversions.

Remove all ambiguity about connected services accounts

If your users have a  connected services subscription, they already have everything they need to use your app via Smartcar.

Connected services are a familiar aspect of vehicle ownership to many drivers. A 2020 survey found that 66% of US drivers already subscribe to their automaker’s connected services accounts.

That number is primed to keep climbing in the coming years. In the US, nine out of ten vehicles on the road today are connected cars. As a result, most OEMs are using this as an opportunity to make connected services plans and apps a standard part of their vehicle ownership experience.

But while adoption has been steady, you’re bound to run into drivers who are not as tech-savvy or are skeptical about having a subscription.

To get these drivers into your app, you must give users all the information they need to set up a connected services account. This means helping them check:

  • The cost of subscribing to a connected services account
  • How to create an account with their OEM
  • If their vehicle is compatible with Smartcar’s vehicle API

Don’t worry.

We created a driver-facing resource hub, connectyourcar.com, that you can share with your customers.

Vehicle owners can use this site to check their vehicle compatibility by VIN, make, model, and year. We’ve also included detailed steps to create a connected services account with Smartcar-compatible brands across America, Canada, and Europe!

💡 Customer experience tip

Approach your users with messaging that appeals to something familiar: their OEM’s mobile app.

Their vehicle’s official app is a trusted source for drivers to discover new deals and announcements. Use this opportunity to show users how your app can add to their vehicle ownership experience with other valuable features.

Communicate the value of your app

Don't assume customers know the benefits of connected car data. Make sure you position your app's value early and often. Here are some examples of Smartcar customers who benefit from this approach:

🚗 Turo continues to be a large contributor to the passive income economy, with hosts listing more cars on the app every month.

🔋 Recurrent is at the forefront of efforts to give drivers and sellers more information on EV and used EV batteries.

🛣 Emovis helped the state of Virginia launch the largest software-based road usage charge pilot in the US.

The key is to appeal to your customers' motivations at critical points in their user journey — especially when they enter the Connect flow. We recommend you add a brief preamble on what benefits customers can get after connecting their vehicle to your app.

For example, our customers increase their conversation rates by as much as 25% by adding two to three bullet points explaining their product value right before a customer is asked to connect their car.

Battery analytics platform, Recurrent, clearly displays that the connection process with Smartcar is needed for drivers to become a part of their research fleet.

To encourage drivers to complete the connection process, Recurrent highlights that this is part of their mission of studying long-term electric vehicle battery life.

This intentional placement of the Connect flow helps Recurrent reduce onboarding drop-offs by:

  • Linking vehicle connectivity to their platform’s primary goals and capabilities
  • Offering clear explanations right before a point of action so users don’t have to search for this information themselves from somewhere else on their app or website

Be transparent about usage and privacy  

Vehicle owners will hesitate to connect their vehicles  if they don’t know how their data will be used and stored by an app.

That’s why we recommend strengthening your user experience with quick and clear information about the data you’re requesting and how you keep it safe. We’ve seen applications with vague explanations drop 5 to 10% of users on the Smartcar permissions screen.

The web3 platform, DIMO, is an example of a customer that does a great job communicating expectations with users when connecting their car.

DIMO’s platform allows drivers to share their data in exchange for rewards. On top of that, the app uses vehicle data to give drivers, developers, and manufacturers vehicle health insights, activity logs, location tracking, and more. To do this effectively, DIMO needs access to multiple vehicle data points.

Source: DIMO

To prepare drivers for this ask, they did a few things:

  1. Provide clear language within their app about the features that drivers can access by connecting a vehicle to the platform.
  2. Prompt drivers to acknowledge DIMO’s commitment to not sharing vehicle data with third parties without permission and authorization.
  3. Notify vehicle owners that a software-based connection will require a connected vehicle app and a subscription to their automaker’s connected services account.

A few sentences go a long way to earning the trust of your users

Whether you’re using Smartcar’s authorization flow or building it on your own from scratch, these lessons apply:

  • Be upfront about your app’s connectivity requirements
  • Be transparent about how you’re using vehicle data
  • Be prepared to inform and educate customers along the way

By appealing to what your users want and empowering them with the information to make the right decision, you’ll see more conversions and trust in your brand!


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar.

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Inside Smartcar: How I found myself in Customer Success

Travis Joseph

3 min read

November 3, 2022
Culture
Live SiteStaging Site

Hi! I’m Travis Joseph (yes, two first names),  a Customer Success Manager here at Smartcar. The objective of “Customer Success” can be defined differently at various companies, but my main goal is to serve as the product expert for our customers — this means ensuring they have a smooth implementation process, helping them leverage Smartcar’s API effectively, and surfacing feedback to our engineering teams so our roadmap is as customer-focused as possible.

How did I get to where I am today?

Time for a brief history lesson.

Oh, you’re committed now.

I started out as a Computer Science major (and eventually started working part-time as a catering assistant - this will become relevant, I promise) honestly because I enjoyed building computers and writing scripts to automate stuff, but quickly realized that:

  1. I didn’t actually know if this was something I wanted to pursue as a full-fledged career.
  2. There were people in my classes that seemed to be far better attuned to this than I was (In hindsight I shouldn’t have let this deter me, but regardless, I’m glad I recognized early on that it wasn’t the best fit for me).

So I took a break from school.

During my break, I worked as a Sales Representative at T-Mobile and realized I enjoyed parts of sales, but mostly I enjoyed helping customers with their phone and account issues. I always enjoyed seeing that look after I saved a phone they thought was already dead or managed to get a billing issue sorted out.

By this point, I’d started taking classes again to finish my degree and started looking for jobs. My friends from back home had graduated and started their careers as veterinarians and engineers or were working toward research PhDs.

But I wanted a career that would allow me to continue becoming a jack of all trades.

I discovered that a Sales Engineer role was the closest fit to my skill set, so I ended up working as one for a year. The downside was that I ended up in an industry and company where I couldn’t see myself growing in the long term.

So I started looking for something new.

Discovering Smartcar

Smartcar’s job post stood because the company’s emphasis on cars and engineering aligned with my interests.

The idea of working for a startup sounded like a nice change of pace.

It weirdly reminded me of what I enjoyed about being a catering assistant — having a lot to do and not enough time, potentially wearing many hats (food prep, delivery driver, or waiter), and pivoting quickly.

OK, the pivoting analogy only works because at times we had to literally turn the truck around to pick up another catering order.

But hopefully, that illustrates my point (I told you my catering assistant days would be relevant).

After passing the screening call and getting to the next stage with my hiring manager, I started to do some recon on Smartcar’s Head of Success, Victor.

I saw “Jack of all trades, obsessed with customer experience” in his bio. That’s when I decided I had to land this job to hopefully learn a thing or two from him.

I’ve been at Smartcar for over two years now, so I’d say I made a pretty good call.

What I love about being a Customer Success Manager

There’s so much to say, but I’ll try to summarize.

  • Communicating with a talented engineering team that is happy to answer any of my questions so I’m never siloed from the product.
  • Having a brilliant sales team that understands the product and is closing great deals. It’s a wonderful feeling when customers have their expectations set in the sales cycle.
  • Liaising closely with customers to make their visions a reality. By this point we’ve implemented Smartcar in various use cases, so we have a good understanding of where to start. However, as the space is still relatively new, it’s great to problem-solve with customers and drive the product in a direction that helps their innovative use cases.

Most of all I enjoyed being put into the thick of it as the second member of the team and working to really define what Customer Success at Smartcar means — from putting together minimum viable product guides for certain verticals, setting up and writing content for our guerilla Notion-hosted help center, standing in as an accounting associate to help with contracts and invoicing, or building out dashboards to make troubleshooting easier.

It’s been a blast and one of the best learning experiences I’ve had.

It was a much-needed breath of fresh air to have our second Customer Success Manager, Ryan, join the team recently to fine-tune our internal processes. We look forward to growing the team as Smartcar continues to scale.

Speaking of scaling,  did I mention we’re hiring across several departments, including Customer Success?

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New at Smartcar: Rivian and Citroën compatibility

Winona Rajamohan

3 min read

October 24, 2022
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

This month, we’re giving you the kind of news mobility apps love hearing from us — new brands and a new endpoint!

📝 In this blog, we're diving into:

  1. New compatibility with Rivian and Citroën 🚀
  2. A set of Tesla-specific endpoints for charging amperage
  3. A build vs buy case study with Recurrent and Dimo

More brand support in the US and Europe!

Rivian

Smartcar is now compatible with Rivian in the US!

America loves a good pick-up truck. Case in point: the best-selling cars of 2021 in the US were the Ford F-Series, RAM pickup, and Chevrolet Silverado.

Rivian has quickly become an influential brand in the automotive world, driving more emphasis on electrification beyond sedans. (After all, the power and ruggedness of a pick-up truck mean a lot more gas and emissions).

We’re excited to see apps already using Smartcar to retrieve EV battery and charging data from Rivians! Demand response firm, Rolling Energy Resource, now connects to 95% of EVs on the road — including Rivian — via Smartcar to help utilities power their managed charging programs.

Citroën

We’re also compatible with Citroën in Europe!

Citroën is set to go fully electric as part of Stellantis’ goal of 100% EV sales in Europe by 2030.

The automaker is one of the few brands that have managed to increase its sales globally in 2021 despite the widespread chip shortage, driven by best-sellers like the C3 hatchback.

Mobility apps can now use Smartcar to connect to the popular C3 and Citroën’s electric models, like the e-C4 and e-Spacetourer to verify mileage, manage EV charging, and remotely start and stop charge.

Visit our compatibility page to view a full list of compatible models and endpoints by region!

A new Tesla brand-specific endpoint

If you aren’t familiar with brand-specific endpoints, they’re a set of endpoints that help customers retrieve additional data beyond what’s in our Standard API. Today, brand-specific endpoints are available for Tesla, Cadillac, and Chevrolet vehicles.

You can now use Smartcar’s Tesla-specific endpoints to retrieve charging amperage data from a vehicle and to set the charging amperage for a vehicle when it's charging.  

Utilities can prevent sudden spikes after a demand response event by using this endpoint to control charging amperage on Teslas when ramping up grid load. It can also help utilities limit energy usage during peak times without completely stopping the car from charging.

Check out our API reference for a complete list of brand-specific endpoints!

Build vs Buy: Learn from our customers DIMO, and Recurrent

Building vehicle integrations from scratch is hard, and how you tackle this critical piece of infrastructure can make or break the success of your mobility application.

For DIMO and Recurrent, there were a few big questions to consider:

  • What are the repercussions of a small bug at scale?
  • How much time can we take away from our core product development efforts?
  • Do we have the manpower to proactively identify risks and edge cases before they impact customers?

Watch our webinar, Build vs Buy: What approach is right for you?, to hear from Recurrent CEO, Scott Case, and DIMO co-founder, Alex Rawitz, about what influenced their decision-making process.

Don’t miss out on new brands and endpoints ✨

Drop your email below to subscribe to our newsletter and keep up with our latest enhancements to our car API (it’s only once a month!).

If you’re new to Smartcar, schedule a demo today to learn how Smartcar can benefit your application, or sign up for a free developer account to take our API for a spin!


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar.

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Zeti uses Smartcar to revolutionize pay-per-mile transport financing

Winona Rajamohan

4 min read

October 17, 2022
Customer story
Maintenance
Live SiteStaging Site

Zeti integrated with Smartcar to give fleets simple and transparent financing to convert to EVs.

Zeti (Zero-Emission Transport Investment) is a FinTech platform that simplifies electric vehicle (EV) financing for fleet operators. Unlike traditional lessors and brokers, Zeti is changing the game by introducing a utility-like pay-per-mile financing model that doesn’t lock businesses into standard monthly payments and interest.

Zeti uses Smartcar’s vehicle API to automatically retrieve real-time EV odometer readings to calculate monthly billings for a vehicle or an entire fleet on a cost-per-mile basis.

Pay-as-you-drive financing helps fleets transition to EVs

Fleet electrification poses a big opportunity to accelerate emission reduction efforts. If urban fleets were made of clean vehicles, we could reduce up to 70% of carbon dioxide emissions from mobility in cities.

But as of 2021, only 1% of global fleets — about 12 million vehicles — were made up electric vehicles.

Electrification is unfamiliar territory for many fleet operators, specifically when adapting their business to the higher purchase price of EVs and understanding battery health.

“Our patent-pending ZERO platform enables pay-as-you-drive financing, whereby users pay a fixed per-mile cost recorded by telematics — think of it as a smart meter for the vehicle,” said Chelsea Dowling, Head of Operations at Zeti. “This provides the additional benefits of optimized cash flow and cost transparency to commercial fleet operators and drivers.”

Zeti uses Smartcar to automatically retrieve data from EVs and send that data to the ZERO platform so bills can be generated and sent to customers. This billing system is especially valuable for fleet operators with variable fleet usage.

For example, Zeti’s customers could leave vehicles parked during the COVID lockdown without losing money because those vehicles had no miles driven and, therefore, would not be charged.

Why Zeti chose Smartcar

Implementing EV telematics into a solution is complex because of unique edge cases for each brand. Zeti experienced this first-hand after using a telematics solution that drained vehicle batteries in their customer’s fleet and introduced unnecessary costs.

“We saw firsthand the complexity of the telematics market, given the newness of electric vehicles, and the lack of standardization,” said Dowling.

Zeti looked for an API-only telematics provider that could support their pay-per-mile billing solution, provide location tracking for investors, and give their operations team and customers a valuable contactless experience.

How Zeti evaluated Smartcar against other solutions

💻 Developer experience

Developers work with Smartcar's easy-to-use APIs, SDKs, powerful self-service dashboard, and more.

🔏 Data security and privacy protocol

Smartcar offers SOC 2 Type 2 and GDPR compliance, data encryption, and undergoes rigorous annual pen testing.

🔋 Availability of data

Smartcar's collection of API endpoints allows Zeti to easily retrieve EV battery data at regular intervals.

🚘 EV brand coverage

Smartcar is compatible with over 60 EV models across 18 brands in Europe.

📞 Customer support

Smartcar's dedicated technical support and customer success teams are ready to help through email, phone, or even live chat.

Giving developers a better experience

Developer experience was a big differentiator for Smartcar compared to other telematics providers.

Zeti’s co-founder, Dan Bass, is the author of two books on serverless architectures with Microsoft Azure. We’re excited to see the Zeti team roll out the first deployment of Smartcar to Azure Static Web Apps using the Smartcar Node.js SDK and javascript SDK!

“Our usual language isn’t Node, but because of our serverless architecture and the excellent Smartcar SDK available, we decided to create a standalone Node.js application which then integrates with the rest of our platform over API,” said Dowling.

Zeti could also easily use our API to connect to targeted brands and models across Europe and the US. They kicked off the partnership by helping a customer successfully track and bill a fleet of Jaguar I-Paces per mile with solely Smartcar data.

 


We expect the number of vehicles that we track through Smartcar to grow significantly. By combining our auto-scaling Azure Serverless architecture with Smartcar’s excellent infrastructure and API, we can cope with that increased demand without extra operational work.

— Chelsea Dowling, Head of Operations at Zeti


Zeti increases customer satisfaction 📈

After implementing Smartcar as a solution for one of their clients, Zeti saw an improvement in that relationship. The client was especially satisfied with vehicles' easy setup and onboarding process, unlike the lost productivity experienced when installing a hardware solution.

This client's customer satisfaction (CSAT) score increased because this fleet operator saw more revenue, fewer vehicle disconnections, and higher bill accuracy.

“There are never any issues with the pay-per-mile billing [for this client] because we know the odometer readings being collected by Smartcar are accurate, and this gives the client more faith in us,” said Dowling.

API-only telematics help Zeti transform transport finance

Zeti uses Smartcar’s API to retrieve odometer and location data on an ongoing basis.

Fleet operators onboard vehicles using Smartcar’s OAuth2.0 flow known as Connect. All they need to do is select a vehicle brand, log in to the brand’s connected services account, and consent to the vehicle data permissions Smartcar lists on the screen.

“Over time, I’m looking forward to not only the cost savings associated with Smartcar for our customers but also the wow factor when our fleets realize we can remotely connect them,” said Dowling. “We could be closing deals on multiple continents and connect the fleets to Smartcar and our in-house technology, all with no travel involved.”

Since 2020, Zeti has already prevented 4 million kg of carbon from entering the atmosphere.

With more EVs onboarding on the Zeti platform, the team is excited to continue moving the needle for fleets, transport districts, and corporations by making vehicle payment as transparent and convenient as paying for any other utility.

 


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar or Zeti.

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What we learned at the 2022 Mileage-Based User Fee Alliance (MBUFA) National Conference

Winona Rajamohan

4 min read

October 5, 2022
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

It’s been exciting to see the Smartcar team travel all around the country recently!  

We were in Las Vegas, Nevada, for InsureTech Connect and Austin, Texas, for MOVE America, where we caught up with Smartcar customers and other mobility technology enthusiasts! 😎🛬 (Let’s chat if you missed seeing us there!)

Today, we wanted to highlight another inspiring event that we had the privilege to be a part of this year 💡

Smartcar CEO, Sahas Katta, traveled to Washington D.C. a few weeks ago to take part in the 2022 Mileage-Based User Fee Alliance (MBUFA) National Conference.

Sahas spoke on a panel about the role of automakers in mileage-based user fees (MBUF), and he also got to catch up with Smartcar customers like Emovis and Azuga, who are pioneering the future of mileage reporting solutions!

What is the MBUFA conference all about?

MBUFA is a nonprofit that promotes mileage-based user fees (also known as road usage charge and vehicle mileage tax) as an alternative to the fuel tax for transportation funding. The organization conducts research and education efforts with these goals in mind:

  1. Create a space to lean and discuss policy surrounding mileage-based user fees.
  2. Build awareness about mileage-based user fee programs worldwide.
  3. Communicate with community and political leaders about the future of transportation funding.

MBUFA’s annual conference brings together policy leaders, businesses, government officials, and academics to discuss progress in the road usage charge space.  

This year’s agenda was built around the theme of moving beyond pilots — which more than 10 US states have already received federal grants for — and implementing programs that take issues like fleets and equity into account.

On the panel, Revving the Engine: The Important role of Automakers in MBUF, Sahas joined William Chercinoff from the Toyota Mobility Foundation and Nate Bryer from Azuga to talk about how Smartcar makes it easier for states to integrate with OEMs through a secure opt-in program.

Sahas also shared Smartcar’s take on two big misconceptions about road usage charge:

“Road usage charge technology isn’t ready yet.” False.

“There aren’t enough cars on the road with embedded telematics.” Also, false.

What is road usage charge? Three quick facts:

👉 EV drivers today are not paying less for our roadways than those who drive gas-powered vehicles. As EV sales continue to climb in the US, researchers predict governments will lose hundreds of billions of dollars meant to maintain roads and highways.

👉 In a road usage charge program, drivers contribute to transportation funding with a pay-per-mile fee instead of a one-time flat fee paid in advance.

👉 It’s a more equitable pricing mechanism for vehicle owners who drive less. Mileage-based fees will not exceed the vehicle’s annual registration fee.

Learn how states are scaling road usage charge programs without mileage-tracking hardware devices →

Connected cars are transforming road usage charge

The conference highlighted the success seen by state programs in Utah, Oregon, and Virginia.

These programs use Emovis to roll out a mileage-based system with embedded telematics instead of just sticking to traditional OBD-II dongles.

With embedded telematics, states can work with tech solution partners like Emovis and Azuga, who use Smartcar’s vehicle API to pull odometer readings directly from a vehicle. A software-only approach gives states the following benefits:

  • Lower administration costs
  • Easier onboarding and scalability
  • Tamper-resistance
  • Data transparency and privacy
  • Data accuracy and reliability

The best part? We don’t have to wait years for this technology to be feasible at scale. It’s already here.

9 out of 10 cars shipping in 2021 have built-in 4G and 5G capabilities — which means states can use our car API to integrate with all these vehicles and put the right security measures in place.

A major point discussed at the conference was data privacy.

Building trust with vehicle owners is critical for the adoption of road usage charge programs at a state and federal level. Half of consumers who sync data to connected devices, like connected vehicles, are unsure if their data is being stored and used for other purposes.

Unlike OBD-II dongles, embedded telematics give states the option to clearly display the exact data that’s being pulled from a vehicle.

This means vehicle owners don’t have to worry about sharing private information — like location data — without their consent.  

How Smartcar works with road usage charge programs

Smartcar is compatible with 80 million+ connected vehicles in the US. This number will continue to rise as new vehicles come to market and consumers replace older models.

Our platform empowers your team with developer-friendly SDKs so your road usage charge solution can use a single integration to connect with 30+ brands and 99 EV models in the US, Canada, and Europe.

Curious to see our API in action? Create a free developer account to get started!

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New at Smartcar: Opel and Vauxhall compatibility

Winona Rajamohan

4 min read

September 20, 2022
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

From new capabilities in Europe to the official rollout of our new API, we’re excited to share how this month’s product updates will help your developers save time integrating with more compatible brands and endpoints!

📝 In this blog, we're diving into:

  1. What’s new for our customers in Europe: Battery capacity endpoint and compatibility with Opel and Vauxhall 🚀
  2. Why we’re retiring API v1.0 at the end of this year
  3. What’s on our developer dashboard

New updates for apps in Europe 🚗

Smartcar is now compatible with two more European brands, Opel and Vauxhall!

Opel/Vauxhall has been a top seller in the region for decades, with classics like the Corsa being one of the best-selling vehicles of all time. Last year, the automaker revealed that it will release electrified versions of its entire lineup in 2024.

You can now use Smartcar to onboard popular models like the Astra and Corsa and their electric models. Visit our compatibility page for a complete list of compatible models and their supported endpoints!

Smartcar’s battery capacity endpoint is now available 🔋

We’re excited to finally release this highly requested EV endpoint to our customers in Europe!

You can use this endpoint to determine the capacity of an electric vehicle’s battery. This makes it simple for apps and services to determine the best time for automatically charging EVs and provide more accurate EV charging functionalities.

Today, energy providers and EV charging businesses use our battery capacity endpoint to implement demand response and smart charging programs. Take a look at our docs to get started!

We’re retiring v1.0 of the Smartcar API ✨

Last November, we released version 2.0 of our API to help developers spend less time addressing errors returned by vehicles using their app.

Since then, we’ve seen many customers successfully migrate to our latest API for smoother onboarding and debugging. We’ve also introduced new features exclusive to v2.0, including:

  1. Brand-specific endpoints for Cadillac, Chevrolet, and Tesla
  2. Webhook verification
  3. Webhook event payloads

To provide all customers with our best developer experience, we’re officially retiring v1.0 of the Smartcar API at the end of 2022. You can find a rundown of all API v2.0 features and helpful documentation on our blog.

Here's a look at v2.0 of Smartcar's compatibility API

For customers who haven’t migrated to v2.0, we broke down the migration process in our v2.0 change log. Follow our recommended steps for a smooth transition with minimal work on your end.

Have you seen our new developer dashboard?

We wanted to share the good news — we’re so excited to see customers using and loving our new dashboard features!

We introduced some big improvements to the dashboard to make it a more intuitive experience for teams managing their Smartcar integration.

For those who haven't seen our new dashboard, hopefully, I’ve piqued your interest 👀 I wanted to take the chance to highlight two of these major releases: Dashboard Insights and Vehicle Test Simulator.

Dashboard Insights

Dashboard Insights centralizes your most important integration information in one place, but without the clutter. Instead, we’ve created three tabs that you can toggle to view details on your API usage, API requests, and connected vehicles.

We also made our reporting capabilities easier on the eye and simpler to share. You can access reports directly from the charts on your Usage tab and use filters to drill down on information like status codes and vehicle makes 📊

You can read more details about this feature in this short blog.

Vehicle Test Simulator

With Vehicle Test Simulator, you can simulate live trips and receive real-time API data right within the Smartcar dashboard.

We introduced this feature to make testing environments more realistic for developers without needing any physical test vehicles. You guessed it — that means you get the convenience of testing your app with any compatible Smartcar vehicle at any time and from anywhere.

Check out this quick walkthrough of how this feature works!

Keep your eyes peeled for more exciting updates next month! ✨

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to stay in the loop with new brand compatibility, API improvements, and cool customer stories — just drop your email below!

If you’re new to Smartcar, schedule a demo to learn how Smartcar can benefit your application, or sign up for a free developer account to take our car API for a spin!

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Why we're switching to v2.0 of our API

Winona Rajamohan

3 min read

September 13, 2022
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

Smartcar is the easiest way to integrate apps with cars, and we're continuously working on improvements to help our customers reimagine automotive services and trailblaze new mobility categories.

Last November, we announced that version 2.0 of the Smartcar API was now available to all Smartcar users. We spent over a year developing and incorporating customer feedback into the latest version of our car API, and version 2.0 delivers our best developer experience for users working with different car brands and models.

📣  So, we’re officially retiring version 1.0 of the Smartcar API at the end of 2022.  

If you’re still using version 1.0 — don’t worry.

We have everything you need for a quick and smooth migration to version 2.0 of our API. But first, let’s dive into what our new Smartcar API is all about and why you’ll benefit most from this change.

Why are we retiring v1.0?

Smartcar API v2.0 was built to accomplish one primary goal: To help developers spend less time addressing errors and more time building cool stuff.

Unlike v1.0, our new API has significant improvements to:

Error responses

We restructured and rewrote our error responses so they’re detailed, and easy to act on even without using our API reference as a guide. With these improvements, your team can spend less time looking for vehicle information and help new developers ramp up quickly with the Smartcar API:

  • Reorganized error types: Consolidated or dropped some v1.0 “error” types and added new types to v2.0. (like “UPSTREAM,” and “VEHICLE_STATE”)
  • Clear error codes and descriptions: More descriptive error code fields that use simple English words instead of numerical codes (like “ASLEEP” instead of “VS_006”). We also rewrote all information in the error description field so they’re more helpful for engineering and support teams involved in the debugging process.
  • Comprehensive API error guides: Revamped our error documentation so developers have an extensive resource to understand, troubleshoot, and test all v2.0 errors. Our error guides are equipped with recommended user-facing messages to display when a particular error impacts vehicle owners.
Smartcar API V2.0 error states

Compatibility API

In v1.0, our Compatibility API was designed to let applications check whether a VIN is capable of Smartcar permissions. We learned from customers that a detailed breakdown of what each VIN supports is more useful.

So, v2.0 gives you the following features:

  • A breakdown of each requested capability.
  • Maps each permission to the endpoint that the permission grants access to A “reason” field that explains why a vehicle does not support a particular feature.
Smartcar Compatibility API v2.0

We’ve also introduced new features that are exclusive to v2.0, like:

  1. Brand-specific endpoints: This allows you to access additional endpoints for specific brands while maintaining the benefits of our Smartcar API, like standardized error codes, permissions, and simple compatibility checks. Brand-specific endpoints are currently available for Cadillac, Chevrolet, and Tesla.
  2. Webhook verification and event payloads: The verification payload includes the ID of the requested webhook and an “eventName” property. The “challenge” and “vehicle”  properties are now nested under a `payload` property.  

What you need to do about it

We’ve outlined three simple steps for you to migrate to v2.0 of the Smartcar API:

  1. Familiarize yourself with all our new error codes and properties by taking a look at our error guide and API reference.
  2. Visit our API changelog for clear migration steps that help you minimize the work you need to do to support our new responses.
  3. Use our specified code block for each Smartcar SDK or replace /v1.0/ with /v2.0/ in URLs when you make an API request if you’re not using a Smartcar SDK.

Subscribe to our newsletter for more Smartcar updates

If you have questions on API v2.0 and how to get started, contact your Customer Success manager or check out our Fall ‘21 Product Showcase for a rundown of new features from our Director of Platform Engineering.

In the meantime, stay updated with more product announcements by subscribing to our monthly newsletter. We’ll share everything you need to know about new brand support, API improvements, and exciting things developers are building with Smartcar — just drop your email below!

New to Smartcar? Schedule a demo today to learn how our car APIs can benefit your application.

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Inside Smartcar: 3 lessons I learned from being on a sales team

Paige Harris

3 min read

September 2, 2022
Culture
Live SiteStaging Site

Hello! I’m Paige, a Business Development Manager at Smartcar 👋 As part of the founding Business Development team, I’ve learned a lot about my strengths while exploring the challenges and opportunities that come with a career in sales. Whether you’re experienced in sales or looking to break into sales, I believe there are three big components to long-term success — which I describe in this blog.  I hope you enjoy the read!

Sales can be an intimidating career to break into, but it’s definitely worth the hurdles.  

I chose to pursue tech sales because I enjoy building relationships with others while being a part of something new and disruptive.

Occasionally, it can be discouraging to not get the responses I want after spending so much effort sitting through meetings that don't always go as planned. However, there are three lessons I practice consistently to grow in confidence and improve my performance.

Learn from failures

It’s scary to look at your mistakes right in the face. But I've learned far more from my failures than my success.

The mistakes I’ve made taught me how to become resilient. I used to try my hardest to avoid making mistakes out of fear of being wrong. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from a career in sales, it’s that errors and misjudgments happen — you have to learn from them and keep going.

Here’s an example some people reading this may relate to: Not having enough confidence during introductions and not asking individuals to repeat themselves when I don’t understand them or can’t hear them well.

But by switching my focus from playing it safe to learning through trial and error, I now understand the importance of being teachable.

I’m constantly growing from my mistakes, asking myself how I can do better, and realizing that I’m always moving one step closer to getting it right. These errors have helped me become more confident not only in myself but in the quality of my work.

Ask and give feedback

Beyond learning from my mistakes, I’ve also developed a whole new understanding of feedback.

Instead of fearing being wrong, I’m now motivated to ask for assistance if I’m stuck or unsure of how I can improve. Asking for feedback gives me insight into weaknesses I may have never picked up on myself. Each constructive observation that has been shared with me has helped me establish the objectives I want to work toward.

Another important aspect of feedback is being able to communicate my needs to managers and coworkers. This emphasis on asking for feedback properly has helped me exceed my quota multiple times here at Smartcar.

Set goals and stay organized

My skills in staying organized have become a valuable asset in staying on top of my responsibilities as a Sales Development Representative (SDR).

By organizing my most important information in a system that really works for my team and me, I’ve established the best ways to learn what each account needs and what the right next steps are. This includes keeping track of every booked meeting, documenting the concerns of each account, identifying the best messaging to approach them with, and analyzing their interests and points.

Some methods I’ve used to help me stay organized include writing a to-do list in my planner on a day-to-day basis, writing down my weekly goals, and maintaining a detailed list of all my engaged accounts.

My ability to organize has helped me improve how I set and reach my goals. Since then, I’ve been able to keep track of my wins no matter how big or small — which has helped me recognize all the achievements I’ve attained and where I stand because of them.

Work with a team that encourages you to grow

The great news is — we’re hiring!

If you are interested in working with Smartcar, check out our Careers page to read more about the role and what it entails.

You can contact me on Linkedin to chat or email us at jobs@smartcar.com if you have any other questions!

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Building apps with connected car data

Winona Rajamohan

6 min read

August 19, 2022
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

How has car data changed how we use our vehicles? Many of us now expect software-powered convenience in our vehicles. In fact, more than 60% of surveyed US drivers want connected car capabilities for safety and navigation, followed by on-demand functions, vehicle management, and comfort.

📝 In this blog, we’re diving into four lessons we learned while helping mobility businesses build apps with connected car data:

  1. Lesson 1: Everyone is trying something new
  2. Lesson 2: The winner doesn't take all (the data)
  3. Lesson 3: Cool new things can be scary
  4. Lesson 4: Data's best friend? A good human experience

Connected car data is produced by vehicles equipped with embedded telematics. This technology allows them to connect to the internet through a 4G or 5G cellular modem. With data obtained via embedded telematics, drivers can access a car manufacturer's mobile app to check their car's location, lock and unlock it, preheat the car, and get notified when they're low on gas or need to charge their EVs —all directly from their phone.

How is connected car data used in apps?

An app can use car data to help start your car rental business with personal vehicles that aren’t in use. Turo does this today with access to location data and the ability to lock and unlock car doors remotely. You can use EV battery and charging data to optimize your EV charging schedules with utility rates or low-emission hours on the grid. Mileage data from connected cars can also be used by insurance companies and partners to price auto insurance premiums accurately.

But spoiler alert: everything new and different must be approached with care.

As a developer platform for connected cars, our goal is to enable apps to do great things while protecting drivers' autonomy over their connected car data.

Apps use the Smartcar platform to retrieve a variety of car data, like:

  • Location: Retrieve the geographic coordinates of a car’s last known location.
  • Mileage: Verify a vehicle’s exact odometer reading.
  • EV battery: Check an electric vehicle’s state of charge and confirm whether it is currently charging.
  • Fuel tank level: Know how much fuel remains in a gas vehicle’s tank.
  • Tire pressure & engine oil life: Read the tire pressure and the remaining engine oil life of a vehicle.

🛠 What's the best connected car data strategy for you?

We created a free guide to help you determine if your app will benefit from using a platform like Smartcar, what the average resource expenditure is for building vehicle integrations from scratch, and how to evaluate connected car API vendor

👉 Get your copy of the guide

The Smartcar Customer Success team has had the privilege of working alongside many innovative mobility apps that believe in using car data the right way.

Here are a few lessons we learned while helping our customers launch great apps for drivers who want to experience the benefits of connected car data:

Lesson 1: Everyone is trying something new

Mobility technology is growing fast. Over 120 billion VC dollars went to mobility tech in the first quarter of 2022 alone, across sectors like autonomous driving software, electric vehicles, and ride-hailing.

This means a highly competitive market and a race to get solutions in people’s hands first. The apps that can fully provide drivers with a memorable experience are the ones that can future-proof their business against sudden change.

Adapting your solution to new market shifts means giving your data architecture the tools to:

(a) Keep up with what drivers actually want — like new vehicle models tearing up sales charts (think Hyundai and Kia’s EV emergence) or new opportunities born out of unprecedented situations (think the rise of pay-per-mile insurance and the surge of web3 over the past two years).

(b) Set developers up for success — let your team of experts focus on building cool and interesting things at the top of the priority list. Our friends at DIMO are focusing their efforts on user-owned networks of mobility data. We support their mission by helping them reach as many users as possible.

It’s hard to fire on both these cylinders with a disconnected stack of vehicle integrations taking up your developer’s time. Connected car data can be agile, but it takes a dedicated team to put all the right measures in place.

This leads us to our next point…

Lesson 2: The winner doesn’t take all (the data)

Despite the massive opportunity of connected car data, half of consumers are still held back by the fear of having personal data exposed and stored without permission.

We can’t speak for the commitments of data marketplaces, but we’ve been firm in our stance that the best products do not come at the cost of consumer privacy.

Drivers deserve to know exactly what data they share with their favorite apps. These apps are the ones that add the most value to their day-to-day transportation, a voluntary choice made typically made after researching various options. How an app handles car data privacy plays a big role in decision-making.

We believe there are a few things to prioritize as a winner in this space:

💬  Upfront data permissions: One of your customer’s first questions will be “what do they have access to?” Don’t hide your answer in fine print or behind complicated legal language. Show them the truth in clear and clean UI so they can feel more sure about the consent they’re providing.

🔐  Dedicated API security: If you’re building your connected car APIs, you must develop security components like API token management and OAuth 2.0 flows. Then there’s the compliance certifications, penetration testing, and continuous network monitoring. You’ll need a dedicated team of API experts to maintain comprehensive integrations that cover all security bases.

🤝  Collaboration with like-minded partners: We call it a ‘mobility ecosystem’ because many apps and organizations work together to advance shared goals — take the EV managed charging industry as a perfect example. As you expand your app to serve more drivers and use cases, choose partners who prioritize the same values as you (you might even find one from our community of customers!).

Lesson 3: Cool new things can be scary

Connected car data is a relatively new chapter of car history. Without trust, it’s hard for most people to get behind it — especially in an environment where data is seen as a tool for commercial manipulation.

What does building trust in innovation look like? Let’s turn to the payment processing industry for a recent example.

The explosive growth of e-commerce highlighted a major problem: it was hard for most businesses to build secure integrations with banks and credit card providers.

Businesses had to work with fragmented technical documentation, understand banking best practices, and keep their systems compliant with industry standards like Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. That’s where industry giants like Stripe stepped into the picture.

The same API evolution is happening in mobility.

By 2030, 96% of vehicles will have built-in internet connectivity.

Stripe used their API expertise to build infrastructure in compliance with the needs of most financial institutions, use cases, and regulations. Whether it was a small business or a Shopify or a Peloton, customers could put their trust in digitized payment systems, even if it was at a business that they’ve never shopped at before.

Mobility developers need the same support to build multi-brand vehicle integrations optimized for car data security and OEM nuances.

Lesson 4: Data’s best friend? A good human experience

Let’s not forget that connectivity isn’t just about data, it’s about people.

Although 87% of business leaders feel like their customers trust them, only 30% of customers actually do. Why?

Customers are often locked into innovative products and services that feel transactional and unresponsive.

If you’re offering drivers convenience, you need a strong foundation for navigating situations when a customer’s convenience is challenged. This includes API errors, data quality, and support requests specific to their vehicle’s connectivity.

Working with API partners lets you create a collaborative system for maintaining post-sales quality and support. Communicate your standards and expectations so you can give customers a clear indication of when they can expect to receive proper guidance.

Smartcar’s Enterprise customers maintain integration success by aligning us with their goals and targets — that’s why we’re prepared to hop on a call with their users and answer questions beyond the scope of an email.

Connected car data is powerful when managed right

When we think about data-driven mobility, we think about innovators — both emerging and existing players — working together to establish an ecosystem of connected, sustainable mobility.

We’re proud to work with apps that build great relationships with their customers through a shared vision of better mobility systems.

Over the coming weeks, we’re excited to give you a peek at more important reminders we tell customers, like how to communicate with vehicle owners, choosing the right times to retrieve data from vehicles and more.

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date, or send us a suggestion or question to cover on our next blog!

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New at Smartcar: We’re now compatible with Peugeot!

Winona Rajamohan

3 min read

August 6, 2022
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

This month, we’re announcing an update to our list of compatible brands, an additional vehicle model, and a new endpoint for Hyundai vehicles. Keep reading to learn how your app can use these new features to serve vehicle owners better.

Smartcar for Peugeot

We’re back with another brand update this month. This time, we’re announcing our API’s new compatibility with one of the best-selling car brands in Europe — Peugeot!

It’s been a good year so far for the French automaker, which has announced that it will have a full-electric lineup in Europe coming 2030.

Peugeot’s most popular vehicle, the 208 small car, recorded sales of 20% for its electric model, the e-208. Shortly after, the brand revealed it’s increasing the e-208’s driving range by 7% to hit 225 miles.

If your business serves Peugeot vehicle owners, we’re excited to bring you our most requested API endpoints. You can now access vehicle data for odometer readings, vehicle attributes, VIN, EV battery levels, EV charging status, and start/stop charge.

Today, Smartcar for Peugeot is compatible with the following models:

Start and stop charge now available for Hyundai

Tesla still leads the way in EV sales, but this year we’re seeing other brands deliver more electric vehicles than Tesla did in its first decade.

One of the more notable EV brands this year is Hyundai. Joseph Yoon, an analyst from Edmunds, tells Bloomberg that “from an EV perspective, they’re really just kind of cleaning the floor.”

Smartcar is currently compatible with over 20 Hyundai models, including the best-selling Ioniq 5. Apps use our API to securely access data like EV battery levels and EV charging status from a growing number of Hyundai vehicles.

With the release of a start and stop charge endpoint for Hyundai, you can now remotely control a vehicle’s state of charge for your EV managed charging use case.

Smartcar customers can contact their respective Customer Success Manager to get started with this functionality.

Two new brand-specific endpoints for Tesla

Smartcar's brand-specific endpoints give you more granular data for select brands while enjoying our Standard API's benefits.

We've added more endpoints for Tesla:

  • GET /tesla/compass
  • GET /tesla/speedometer

Check out our API reference for a full list of Tesla-specific endpoints!

Compatibility with Toyota GR86

If you haven’t heard of the GR86, it’s been called the lightest sports car on the market — but it’s built for everyday roads with a more driver-friendly price point.

Owners of the Toyota GR86 can now use Smartcar to let your app access highly-requested data like odometer, tire pressure, and fuel tank readings, as well as the ability to lock and unlock car doors remotely.

Test your apps with Vehicle Test Simulator  

Have you heard about our new Vehicle Test Simulator?

If not, here’s the rundown: It’s an app testing feature that lets you simulate live trips and receive real-time API data (no physical test vehicles involved)!

To start simulating a live trip, follow these three steps:

  1. Select a vehicle from any Smartcar-compatible brand
  2. Select a trip from one of our four pre-configured trip types — day commute, short trip, long trip, or parked
  3. Connect your app with Smartcar Connect

You know the drill! Reach out to your Customer Success Manager if you’d like to use Vehicle Test Simulator for your next release.

Get started today

To catch up on more product announcements, read our last product update and our breakdown of the Vehicle Test Simulator.

Get in touch with your Customer Success manager if you’re a Smartcar customer interested in using these new features now!

If you’re new to Smartcar and are working on an exciting mobility app or service, contact our team to explore what our developer platform can do for you.


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar.

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Inside Smartcar: Being part of an ambitious team

Bharath Gunasekaran

2 min read

August 3, 2022
Culture
Live SiteStaging Site

Hey there, I’m Bharath, a Senior Software Engineer at Smartcar! The factors that led me to build a career here is one shared by many of us on the engineering team — we wanted a space to grow our skills by being actively involved in new areas of problem-solving. If you’re motivated by similar goals, I hope my story can help you envision what that can look like!

The search for an ambitious team

Before Smartcar, I worked as a DevOps Engineer at a large fintech company. My role was primarily focused on managing how products were built and shipped. Although it was a great learning experience, I didn’t get the opportunities I felt I needed to grow as an engineer. I wanted a role — and most importantly, a culture — that pushed me to become a better coder.

I knew that it was time to look for a new opportunity. My criteria for a new role were simple, but I knew how difficult it could be. I wanted to be part of an ambitious team, a team that could continue to inspire my passion for coding.

Why Smartcar?

I was fortunate to find a welcome surprise come my way.

I got a LinkedIn message from Smartcar’s Director of People, Mathilde, inviting me to grab coffee with their Director of Platform, Gurpreet. It was only a 30-minute meeting, but it left a big impression.

I recall how perplexed I was seeing a demo of how Smartcar could be used to unlock a Tesla through an app with just a single line of code. It was a complex problem involving more than just vehicle integrations, but data privacy and intuitive user experience too.

I had a lot to think about on the drive back from that meeting. I kept returning to the demo I just witnessed and the discussions I had with Gurpreet about Smartcar's mission of building a centralized connected car API for developers Imagine how cool it would be to be a part of something like that?

Two years have passed since then and let’s just say I made the right call.

Striving to surprise myself

From starting as a Software Engineer to growing into a bigger role as a Senior Software Engineer, I’ve seen myself constantly improve by trying new things and engaging with people as passionate as I am.

When I first joined, I had to learn NodeJS, understand the concept of “awaits” and work on well-defined problems. New things are exciting and scary, but I wasn’t doing it alone. I had a supportive team that helped me ramp up and become a contributing team member.

Over the past two years of discussing positive and constructive feedback from 1:1 with my manager, I’ve become a more resourceful team player.

Building and maintaining a standardized API that supports over 30 different brands in the United States, Canada, and Europe can be challenging. Since every brand has its quirks, we needed to build a system that is modular and resilient to failure, and user-friendly. Today, I’m working on building solutions for loosely scoped problems — many of them being problems that have never been solved before. I feel more ambitious than ever, but even more supported as I navigate future challenges I have yet to learn about.

If you’re interested in learning more about engineering at Smartcar or any open roles, check out our careers page. You can also reach out to Mathilde or me with any questions!

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Introducing: Vehicle Test Simulator

Angie Shields

2 min read

July 20, 2022
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

We’re excited to announce Vehicle Test Simulator, a brand new way to test your mobility app and launch new features even faster!

Now, you can quickly test your application in realistic scenarios with any Smartcar-compatible vehicle. Simulate live trips and receive real-time API data without the cost or logistics of physical test vehicles! You can even run tests across multiple cars at the same time.

Let’s take a closer look at how it works.

Select a vehicle

Start by picking a vehicle from any Smartcar-compatible brand across the United States, Canada, and Europe. Choose from our growing list of battery electric (BEV), hybrid (HEV), and conventional vehicles (ICE). You can drill down by Make, Model, Year, or search with a real VIN.

Select a trip

Next, pick a trip from one of four preconfigured trip types based on your vehicle’s region. Trips can range from 4 to 24-hour durations so you can simulate different real-world scenarios:

  • Day commute - A typical commute between work and home. For EVs, the vehicle will be charged overnight.
  • Short trip - A quick trip across town; no charging or fuel stops.
  • Long trip - An extended day trip. The vehicle will be plugged in or fueled up before embarking on the return drive home.
  • Parked - Parking at home or work. For EVs, the vehicle will be charged to full capacity.

You can start a new simulated trip at any time. However, you will need to connect your app to the simulated vehicle before making API requests to the vehicle.

Connect your app

Now you're ready to connect your application to the simulated vehicle through Smartcar Connect. Vehicle Test Simulator automatically generates a set of credentials you can use to connect to each vehicle.

Once connected, simply start a trip and begin making API requests from your app to the simulated vehicle. As the trip progresses, you will also see the vehicle data update in real-time on the Smartcar Dashboard!

Check out a quick demo of the Vehicle Test Simulator in action:

From easy-to-use APIs to popular software development kits (SDKs) and dashboard analytics, Vehicle Test Simulator is another example of our commitment to delivering a truly exceptional developer experience.

Ready to get started?

If you're a Smartcar user, you can contact us or reach out to your Customer Success Manager to learn how you can start using Vehicle Test Simulator today! If you're new to Smartcar, request a demo to explore how our car API platform could be the right solution for you.

 


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar.

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What you missed at our Summer '22 showcase

Winona Rajamohan

3 min read

July 5, 2022
Product
Events
Live SiteStaging Site

We’re excited to announce more compatible vehicles, expanded API and security, plus our all-new Vehicle Test Simulator and Event-based Webhooks!

7 new compatible brands

To kick things off, we're excited to share that Smartcar has increased compatibility with 7 new car brands — 1 in all our supported regions, 2 in Europe, and 4 in Canada. This brings our total number of compatible vehicles to over 139 million across North America and Europe!

Smartcar-powered apps can now onboard users across the following new brands and regions:

  • U.S., Europe, Canada - Mini
  • Europe - Kia, Nissan EVs
  • Canada - Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, Ram

Today, Smartcar is compatible with 26 car brands. Visit our compatibility page for a full list of our compatible vehicles, models, and supported endpoints!

Expanded vehicle data

We’re excited to announce that we’ve expanded compatibility for popular API endpoints and security.  

  • Tire pressure: Determine the air pressure reading of each vehicle tire in kilopascals or pounds per square inch. This endpoint is now available for Mini, BMW, Tesla (North America and Europe), Lexus and Toyota (U.S.).  
  • Electric vehicle data: Toyota and Lexus are leading the way for hybrid sales in the United States, especially with models like the Prius Prime and the Lexus LX450h. Smartcar-powered apps can now access EV battery levels, charging status, start and stop charge, and battery capacity for Lexus and Toyota.
  • Two-factor authentication: Connected services increasingly offer two-factor authentication (2FA), and Smartcar Connect is now compatible with 2FA across even more brands — Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Lexus and Toyota.

Vehicle test simulator

As Smartcar continues to add vehicle compatibility for a wide range of use cases, we're also working hard to deliver the best developer experience for our users.

This month, we’re thrilled to introduce Vehicle Test Simulator, a new way to test your applications in realistic scenarios using any vehicle from 26 compatible brands.

Now, you can simulate live trips and retrieve accurate data from a vehicle of your choice without having to worry about the cost or logistics of physical test vehicles! You can even use this feature to run tests across multiple vehicles at the same time.

Check out a quick demo of this awesome new feature:

Event-based webhooks for EVs

We know that adjusting polling schedules and managing error cases can get complicated.

That’s why we built event-based webhooks.

With event-based webhooks, you no longer have to worry about polling vehicles. Instead, you can simply:

  1. Create a webhook on the Smartcar dashboard
  2. Request the read_charge_events permission in the Smartcar Connect workflow
  3. Subscribe the vehicle to your webhook

That's it! You can just sit back as your event data starts streaming in. 🪄

The initial release of event-based webhooks focuses on electric vehicles and supports the charging started, charging stopped, and charging complete events for Ford, Tesla, and Toyota vehicles.

Watch the full event and get started today!

We hope our latest features will help your app reach more users while giving your development team less to worry about.

▶️ Watch the replay of our Summer '22 Showcase to learn more about these new releases from our team.

To participate in our beta round for Vehicle Test Simulator and Event-based Webhooks, contact your Customer Success Manager today!

 


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar.

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What increasing power outages tell us about grid modernization

Winona Rajamohan

7 min read

June 22, 2022
EV charging
Live SiteStaging Site

The North American Electricity Reliability Corporation (NERC) released its annual summer reliability report in May 2022 which warns of a heightened risk of electricity blackouts in the summer months. In this blog, we dive into how upcoming grid expectations are signaling utilities and their technology partners to explore new opportunities for collaboration

📝 A (clickable) summary of what's ahead:

John Moura, NERC’s director of reliability assessment and performance, told media outlets that the current state of the grid is “out of sync with the underlying realities and the physics of the system.”

The report highlighted the following:

  1. The midcontinent ISO (MISO) will have 2.3% less generation capacity than last summer.
    To meet peak summer demand, MISO will need to depend on resources that can shift energy loads to avoid straining available capacity. These resources include demand response programs, managed EV charging, and behind-the-meter distributed energy resources (DERs).
  2. Drought conditions are increasing the risk of extreme peak electricity demand in high and dry temperatures.
    Dry conditions are impacting energy output from hydro and thermal generators in the Western United States, forcing utilities to depend on energy from fossil fuels to meet increased demand. Drought-induced wildfires in California have forced utilities to shut off power in high fire risk areas for resident safety. The Pacific Gas and Electricity Company (PG&E) told California regulators that aging equipment may have sparked the second-largest wildfire in the state’s history.
  3. Supply chain issues are impacting transmission expansion projects
    Utilities are no exception to the worsening supply chain issues this year. The report states that product unavailability, shipping delays, and labor shortages are impacting grid reliability for the summer. A purchasing agent for Denison Municipal Utilities in Iowa tells the American Public Power Association that wait times have been on the incline, with orders placed at the beginning of 2021 only coming in nine months later.

What this means: Grid modernization is a top priority

Upcoming summer power outages echo a recurring call for grids to move away from outdated energy distribution systems. Some components of grids in the US are over a century old, while 70% of transmission and distribution lines in the country are in the second half of their lifespans.

The outages in Texas last February are a prime example of how traditional power systems aren’t equipped to handle drastic and unprecedented weather changes. Temperatures below 20°F didn’t just cause spikes in demand. Grid equipment froze over and the production of natural gas dropped by almost 50%. Operator-initiated load shedding was called for in certain service areas. Combined with the collapse of grid equipment, the blackouts spread to 11 million residents across a span of three days.

The pressure is on for grid modernization, and it’s driven by two primary goals:

1️⃣ Equipping grids with more clean and renewable energy resources 🌳

2️⃣ Increasing grid reliability with hardware-agnostic integrations to balance supply and demand across available resources ☁️

The business opportunity for grid flexibility

Traditionally, utilities have shaped energy generation to meet demand. Today, grids are rehauling legacy systems so demand can be shaped according to available supply.  77% of utilities surveyed by the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) introduced DERs into load-forecasting processes so demand can be properly funneled into a wider energy resource mix.

What does this energy mix look like?

CNN highlights Bronzeville as an example, a neighborhood in Chicago using microgrids to prepare in the case the larger grid can’t meet summer demand. This microgrid consists of solar panels on the rooftop of a public housing complex, batteries to store solar energy, and natural gas generators. These sources connect and share power with the main grid, but can also operate independently during blackouts using the energy stored in the battery.

Grid flexibility is an immense project — but it can’t be tackled by grids alone. 90% of leading utilities leverage technology partnerships with other companies to adopt more software-friendly infrastructure.

“Digital solutions present a major opportunity for utilities to increase revenue and lower emissions,” says Eileen Waris, principal at Energize Ventures.

“As transportation electrifies, we can expect a 20 to 40 percent increase in demand for electricity in the U.S. alone. The utilities that develop leading strategies in grid flexibility and managed charging will be well-positioned to capture this demand, optimize grid flow and contribute to decarbonization.”

Here are three ways companies are partnering with utilities today.

APIs

Utilities are working with more fragmented energy sources today than ever before, making it difficult to predict overall load capacity and available options to cater to excess demand in high-risk periods for the grid, like warmer and colder seasons.

APIs allow two or more software applications to communicate with each other, giving grids a hardware-free path to communicate with IoT-connected devices that can greatly impact grid load, like electric vehicles. Technology partners are brought in to help grid operators offload the effort of building and maintaining these integrations themselves.

APIs give demand response programs granular and high-quality data directly from each vehicle, which utilities use to analyze load forecasting patterns and create digitized user experiences for customers. Businesses also leverage APIs to provide utilities with simple hardware-free access to grid modernization resources.

Customer participation

A 2020 survey found that consumer awareness and advocacy for local utility climate initiatives ranged from only 18 to 32 points on a 100-point scale. Software partners help utilities increase customer participation by optimizing program goals and user experiences with customer motivations.

What does it mean to tap into motivating factors for customer participation?

Research has shown that some customers engage more with demand response incentives emphasizing environmental benefits as opposed to financial benefits. Apps like Optiwatt encourage better EV charging habits by giving customers a dashboard view of insights most relevant to them, like the time they need to spend charging, the money they’ve saved, and the emissions they’ve reduced.

A simple enrollment and onboarding experience is another driver of participation. DERMS platforms like EnergyHub help utilities elevate program design through better customer enrollment. They found that lengthier sign-up processes and form fills can reduce customer participation by 46%. EnergyHub solves this pain point by automatically retrieving and maps data with customer consent for a more frictionless registration process.

Electric vehicles

In a webinar on smart charging hosted by Smartcar, we found that more than 40% of our attendees were monetizing smart charging programs while 14% had plans to do so in the near future. When asked about the biggest challenge to implementing a smart charging program, integrating with electric vehicles came out on top.

A growing number of EVs on the road signifies a growing source of energy that can influence grid loads, especially during periods of higher outage risks. But utilizing Level 2 chargers to coordinate EV communication isn’t accessible for every vehicle owner and utility territory.

Vehicle telematics enables utilities and energy businesses to develop vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, which can be implemented in a few different ways:

  • ⏳ To schedule charging during hours when electricity demand is lower: Software applications use EV APIs to automate charging schedules during hours when demand is lower, like in the middle of the day as opposed to after 5 pm.
  • 🍃 To optimize charging for clean energy: The duck curve is still a prevalent problem that holds a greener grid back. Grids can deploy managed charging programs that automatically start and stop vehicle charging during hours when solar energy is available for use.
  • 🔋 To store excess renewable energy: EV batteries are used to store renewable energy during the day so it can be used later when demand begins to climb. EV batteries expand on common storage options like chemical battery and hydro storage, which are more difficult to obtain at high volumes.
  • ⚡ To discharge electricity from the grid during peak demand periods: Bi-directional EV charging isn’t available in all EVs, but utility providers are looking into it as a viable solution as EV sales become a more common vehicle choice. V2G plans are already in the works in California, with the state approving $11.7M for EV pilot programs to provide backup power to the grid.

A to-do list for every utility partner

Grid modernization efforts are relatively new and still ever-growing, so programs — which are often subject to regulatory hurdles and lengthier stakeholder alignment processes — need the agility to consistently iterate on integration quality, grid efficiency, and customer impact. If you’re partnering with utilities for grid modernization efforts and demand response programs and services, here are a few lessons we’ve learned:

✅ Help your partner visualize success at scale

Show your utility partners how you can provide them the flexibility to expand the scope of their demand response programs. For example, EV integrations are labor-intensive, with one vehicle brand alone requiring up to three engineers to develop a reliable integration. Utilities benefit more from partnering with businesses that can provide them with a ready-built integration architecture that can be adapted to program needs. This demand contributed to a 70% increase in venture capital funding last year for startups focused on vehicle-to-grid power.

✅ Empower your partner’s roadmap with high-return projects

35% of utilities in a PWC survey cited conflicting priorities as a primary challenge for grid modernization efforts. Your goal as a partner is to help them tackle high-impact projects that would otherwise be sitting on the backburner. The growth of the API landscape helps energy and utility programs bring together the knowledge of software developers, equipment manufacturers, customer engagement leaders, and clean energy experts. Prove to your partners how your core competencies can streamline operational capability, win the buy-in of stakeholders and communities, and go to market faster with lower overhead costs.

✅ Commit to maintaining the data privacy of utility customers

Cybersecurity threats to power systems and infrastructure are a major point of concern for utilities. Obtaining customer data without consent, whether for active demand response or passive load analysis, heightens the vulnerability of sensitive information falling into the wrong hands. Show your partners what measures you’ve put in place to retrieve connected car data safely from residents and vehicle owners in a utility territory, like consent management flows, API token management processes, and compliance certifications.

To learn how Smartcar helps utility partners, download our energy and utilities whitepaper to see how you can use connected car APIs to:

  • Offer smart charging solutions
  • Power demand response programs
  • Manage your in-house fleet
  • Collect EV driver consent for shared data
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New at Smartcar: Kia compatibility and our latest product showcase

Winona Rajamohan

3 min read

June 14, 2022
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

Let’s start this product update with a quick refresher on what’s been going on in the connected car and electric vehicle market recently.

This past quarter brought a lot of good news for EV manufacturers in the EU!

Battery electric vehicles doubled their market share in Q1 of 2022 compared to Q1 of 2021, now making up 10% of all car sales. Meanwhile, the registration of diesel cars in the region continues to plummet, dropping 33.2% from January to March of this year.

Smartcar is expanding vehicle compatibility in Europe this year to include more popular EV models so businesses can continue providing value to an increasing number of drivers. Keep reading to learn more about our latest compatibility and upcoming product releases!

Smartcar for KIA in Europe

We’re excited to announce that Smartcar’s APIs are now compatible with Kia!

Kia has been one of our most requested brands, with models like the Kia Niro emerging as one of the top battery EVs in the EU. Despite automaker sales taking a tumble in the region over the past few months, Kia came out as one of the only brands to make sales gains in April of this year.

Smartcar’s compatibility extends to popular Kia models, including the:

  • e-Soul
  • e-Niro
  • Niro HEV and PHEV (2020+)
  • Ceed (2020)
  • Proceed (2020)
  • X-Ceed (2020)
  • Sorento (2021)
  • Sportage (2021)
  • Rio (2021)
  • Stonic (2021)
  • Picanto (2021)

Smartcar’s APIs let you access EV battery levels, charging status, start charge, lock and unlock, and more. Whether you’re launching a managed EV charging program, pay-per-mile insurance, or contactless rentals, you can now connect your mobility app to vehicles across 11 brands in the European market — with more on the way in the coming months.

We look forward to giving mobility apps in Europe the opportunity to enroll more drivers and continue streamlining customer onboarding, so sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date with our vehicle compatibility!

Smartcar’s Summer Product Showcase

Now that the sun’s out and our days are getting longer, we’re saying goodbye to spring and hello to summer – which means it’s time for another product showcase!

In our last product showcase, we covered some pretty big news — like what we’ll be doing with our Series B funding, launching brand-specific endpoints, and a walkthrough of our new Smartcar dashboard for developers.

Since then, we’ve been working on new features to make your team’s lives a whole lot easier.

Save your spot to join us for an engaging live session with our experts. Ask us questions, share your thoughts, and clarify anything you need to get up and running with our new releases!

Here’s a sneak peek at the agenda we have planned:

📍 More new brands and endpoints

🪝Event-based webhooks

🧑🏼‍💻 Updates to our developer experience

Got any questions?

Take a look at our last product update and watch our Winter ‘22 product showcase to get up to speed with everything we’ve done in recent months!

If you have any questions about our new compatibility, get in touch with our Customer Success team. You can also grab some time on our team’s calendar if you’re new to Smartcar and would like to learn more about what we can do for your business.

🪝Event-based webhooks. the emoji/icon of this sentence doesn't show

Defining sustainable mobility with connected cars

Winona Rajamohan

7 min read

June 6, 2022
EV charging
Energy
Live SiteStaging Site

In 2021, ‘sustainability’ reached a record high in search interest worldwide on Google, alongside terms like ‘how to conserve’ and ‘impact of climate.’

“We’re now at a point where the momentum [of sustainable mobility] has tipped, nobody can stop it at this point,” says Alex Mitchell, creator of the $ustainable Mobility newsletter. “Even if Elon Musk somehow said, ‘I’m shutting down Tesla. I’m not building EVs anymore,’ the EV revolution will continue.”

But as many reports have shown, this momentum is great, but not enough.

Electric vehicle sales in the US jumped up 38% in the first quarter of 2022, while sales in the EU saw a 53% increase. Yet a study by ICF found that existing state-level EV policies in the US would only lead to a 27% decline in emissions by 2050. Similar circumstances are seen in Europe, with studies expecting the region to only meet 2030 goals in 2051.

Mitchell adds that achieving the optimum levels of sustainable mobility today still depends on two overarching goals — decarbonizing quickly and getting as much mode shift as possible.

This blog explores how a wave of new sustainable mobility technology is helping us get there.

What does sustainable mobility mean?

Sustainable mobility defines any mode of transportation that depends on non-renewable energy sources, namely fossil fuels. Transportation made up 27% of 2020 greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

Governments worldwide are pushing for low-emission transportation systems like sustainable cars, micromobility, and better public transit.

The problem lies in how our existing transportation systems have been influenced by the dawn of early automotive technology — like the gas-powered cars of the 19th century — and a long-standing culture surrounding the prestige of private car ownership.

What followed was the development of roads, cities, regulations, and economic incentives that positioned fossil fuel-powered transportation as a necessity for convenience, access, and speed.

But there is good news — a new wave of apps and software services specifically focused on advancing sustainable mobility through connected car data.

The impact of your app goes even further when you can work together with other players in the mobility ecosystem through joint partnerships or integrations with sustainable car API


I think that the entrance of tech companies into the mobility space has, for the better, really pushed government, private actors, and everyday citizens to rethink how we make transportation decisions, our mobility options, access outcomes, and so on.


— Warren Logan, Partner at Lighthouse Public Affairs

🔖 Read our interview with Warren about siloes in our sustainable mobility ecosystem


Examples of sustainable mobility technology

The shift to sustainable mobility requires us to reevaluate how existing technology, policy, economics, and culture interact with sustainable transport modes and the development that supports them.

The Energy Research and Social Science journal identified three narratives that can inform effective policy and action for sustainable mobility:

  1. Electromobility
  2. Collective transport
  3. Low-mobility societies.

Transportation systems today benefit from the development of solutions targeting specific gaps in these narratives. Partnerships between technology companies, local governments, and communities are necessary to roll out efforts at scale.

Here are a few examples of what that can look like in the context of each sustainable mobility narrative:


Narrative + mobility types

What this means

What software can do


Electromobility

(Electric cars, trucks, and buses)
  • Replacing fossil fuel-powered vehicles with zero-emission vehicles.
  • Increasing capacity for clean electricity-production systems.
  • Simplify EV ownership with intuitive interfaces for managing EV charging, battery health, and driver preferences.
  • Enable vehicle-to-grid communication to manage peak load and increase the use of renewable energy.
Collective transport

(Public transport, car sharing)
  • Increasing the number of trips by public transport.
  • Shifting from ‘ownership’ to ‘usership’ through shared mobility.
  • Improve first and last-mile mobility to public transportation with consumer-facing apps for planning trips and accessing micromobility options.
  • Connect vehicle providers to drivers for shared mobility, with capabilities for contactless services, vehicle tracking, and, predictive maintenance.
Low-mobility societies

(Micromobility, walking)
  • Reducing the number and length of trips made using cars.
  • Urban planning that prioritizes ease of travel using alternatives to cars, like walking, or using public transportation and micromobility options.
  • Integrate comprehensive data from public transit and micromobility options into route planning apps.
  • Use data intelligence to inform geofencing, spatial planning, and behavioral analysis of local communities.

Solutions to advance sustainable mobility ecosystems

Although integrations have become more commonplace in the mobility space since the rise of companies like Uber, the idea of a “winner take all” approach with public and private partnerships has become unrealistic.

“Maybe internet search might be a winner take most or all, but not mobility, partly because of the variety of our needs each day,” Mitchell says.

Partnership-driven software strategies widen the reach of environmental problem-solving.

These partnerships pool together more resources and expertise to implement better travel options optimized for more consumer accessibility, convenience, and trust.

Here are four ways apps and services are improving the adoption of sustainable mobility solutions:  

  1. Providing a better user experience
  2. Hyperlocalized features for more accessible travel
  3. More mode shift convenience
  4. Giving back to the grid with electric vehicles

💡 User experience

A report by J.D. Power found that more than 50% of EV owners use connected services apps regularly, but 32% of those who don’t aren’t even aware of how to use them.

Third-party EV apps have emerged to fill this user experience gap by using vehicle telematics to help drivers manage and analyze specific functionalities critical to the EV ownership experience — like optimizing EV charging and generating battery reports.  

Casey Donahue, founder of the smart charging app, Optiwatt, joined Smartcar for a webinar on smart charging where he explained how user experience impacts customer involvement in sustainability efforts.

As automakers focus on manufacturing vehicles, Donahue says that innovation from consumer apps and developer platforms creates solutions that focus on user preferences, convenience, and confidence in the EV industry.

🗺 Hyperlocalization

A reliable mobility ecosystem offers greater support at a local level to fit the unique needs of nearby communities.

Integrations must consider city-specific limitations and travel behavior can help mobility businesses offer more flexibility to meet local conditions.

Carge is a mobile app that uses vehicle telematics to help drivers find and book available charging stations across Europe. The app uses software to communicate with charging stations and over 40 EV models, using horizontal integrations to give drivers information about nearby charging stations.

Local communities also use software partnerships to develop community-driven programs that offer low-income residents access to sustainable transportation.

In 2020, the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator partnered with the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles and EV car sharing software, Envoy, to launch the Rancho San Pedro Electric Car Share.

The program allows residents in a community of 450 subsidized apartments to rent EVs for $3 an hour. The LA Times also reports that local representatives are working on legislation to launch similar programs in low-income communities across the country.

🚘 Mode shift

Mitchell is car-free by choice and notes the difficulty of patching together mobility options with different reliability levels, payment methods, and data systems.

He says there’s an opportunity for connected ecosystems that give individuals similar travel flexibility and accessibility even without private car ownership.

He describes this as a possible “bundle of services that cover car sharing, ride-hail, scooters and bikes that cost $3,000 or $4,000 in instead of $10,000 a year [for private car ownership].”

Software and cloud platforms allow mode shift across cities with more convenience and local context.

One example is how Superpedestrian’s vehicle intelligence helps them customize vehicle behavior to meet city requirements for geofenced zones and parking across the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.

Turo also uses cloud software to simplify how vehicle owners can become car sharing hosts and decrease overall dependency on buying a personal vehicle for travel.

More than 90% of Turo hosts want all of their vehicles to be Turo Go-enabled. Among hosts who opted into Turo Go, 34% agree that they have listed more cars on the platform.

With the Turo Go feature, hosts can even use digital car keys to operate multiple listings without the logistical challenges of meeting guests where they are. Using Smartcar’s API to administer contactless car sharing, Turo saw an increased interest in its platform’s capabilities.

🔋 Managed EV charging

Concerns have been raised about the future of sustainable cars, arguing that EV charging would only do more harm than good if grids are already struggling to meet heightened demand.

But EVs are a necessary component for modernizing our grids.  Vehicle-to-grid technology can be used to:

  • Schedule charging during the day when electricity demand is lower
  • Schedule charging during hours of more renewable energy production
  • Store excess renewable energy so it can be used later when demand is high
  • Discharge electricity from the grid during hours of peak demand

Close to 70% of utilities in the US have plans to roll out a managed EV charging program within the next two years. They’re doing this by working with software partners to communicate with Wi-Fi-enabled EVs and reduce dependency on complicated hardware installations.

Demand response firm, Rolling Energy Resources, uses EV APIs to help utilities study EV charging patterns within a territory and shape better demand response initiatives.

With software-only means to access information like EV charging locations, charging status, and battery levels, utilities can alert residents and remotely stop charging during peak hours.

The future of sustainable mobility is connected

From EV charging to car sharing and urban planning, mobility applications and services are challenging the way we think about sustainable travel.

There’s a lot to do before newer modes of mobility become affordable and equally advocated for across different demographics. But a well-rounded and collaborative approach to technology development leads to opportunities and incentives to help us get there.

As ICF’s Stacy Noblet tells us in a previous article about the state of EV charging and mobility ecosystems, “there is a sense that the rising tide raises all ships, and if you can get it right, it’s going to benefit the industry as a whole.”

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What is Customer Success at Smartcar?

Winona Rajamohan

5 min read

May 19, 2022
Product
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Our Customer Success team works with Enterprise plan customers to provide a smooth implementation for high-quality integrations. In this blog, learn how Smartcar commits to customer success and why our process sets us apart from other integrations you might be considering.

Customer success at Smartcar is driven by a firm understanding of why we exist.

We realized that the journey from sales to implementation is turbulent and unpredictable. Navigating the troughs of API variability without support is like flying through a storm without an air control tower.

You might end up on the wrong route and get lost. Or, you end up spending more effort than expected steering things back in the right direction.

Your flight time goes up, and your fuel continues to deplete. And you’re at the edge of your seat, hoping you have what you need to make a successful landing.

“When you’re building a software company, you realize that having a good Customer Success function is a big differentiator. You get along better with customers, learn from them, and help them become more successful,” says Scott Case, co-founder of Recurrent. “When I work with Smartcar’s Customer Success team, I see the kind of company that I want to build.”

Saving you the bumpy ride

We’ve gained experience working with integrations across 24 OEM APIs, compiling best practices and common mistakes along the way to help your team meet product timelines and avoid any downtime.

A connected car product unlocks many possibilities for businesses and drivers alike. But just like any emerging technology in the market, it comes with a unique set of challenges that you may not be all too familiar with, such as:


⚙️ Sudden API changes made by OEMs

🚘 Development limitations and variability for each vehicle brands

💬 Navigating errors and support requests from vehicle owners


We’ve worked with customers across many verticals to de-risk implementation and provide ongoing support for product launches. “Smartcar helps us walk through odd edge cases that we aren’t always able to fix,” says Andrew Leonard, Customer Success Manager at Recurrent. “Working on these edge cases in detail with the development team has helped Recurrent improve our own tools for customers.”

Our team runs an implementation process with two paths of focus — technical implementation and go-to-market, which includes support and resources for:

  • Technical discovery: Getting to know your technical stack, dev cycles, and product timelines. This helps us determine the right approach based on your resources and shows you what works and what doesn’t for your particular use case.
  • Requirement brainstorming: Working toward the requirements and scope of your integration implementation. Best practices differ across each OEM, but our experience working with integrations at scale can help guide you from the get-go on setting database schema, token refresh flows, polling frequencies, and more.
  • Reviewing UI/UX and error handling: Providing strategic guidance on improving front-end UI/UX and error handling for backend systems.
  • Launch prep: Beta testing and conducting QA processes for your app’s functionality before everything goes into production.

A process built for success

API implementation will cost your development team time, even with clear documentation and SDKs. So we’ve worked hard to organize a process that de-risks implementation and makes the lives of your developer and customer experience teams easier.



“My work specifically is customer-facing and there’ll be a lot of times when I’m responding to a customer, but [the Smartcar team] is giving me the answers I need. It’s nice that our communication is this quick because I don’t have to make our customers wait and I can get back to them with an answer by the end of the day.”

— Daniel Hartman, Customer Experience Manager at Rolling Energy Resources.



Through our experience onboarding developers and stakeholders, troubleshooting mission-critical bugs, and collaborating to identify growth opportunities and blockers, we learned that our customers find the most success when we go above and beyond the scopes of passive customer support.

We’re strategic partners invested in your product. We’ve codified our gold standards for customer success into a four-part process that sets you up for long-term growth right from the integration kick-off.

Planning your integration

Every customer’s integration looks different depending on use cases, vehicle brands, product timelines, and expectations for future growth. Based on your success criteria, we’ll plan your integration around Smartcar-recommended best practices, API design validation, and development milestones to set you on target for launch.

Working toward go-to-market goals

We’re fortunate to have worked with some of the most innovative businesses in the mobility space. Along the way, we learned that cutting-edge products take up a lot of resources, especially from smaller teams wearing multiple hats to get products shipped and ready for the market. So we included a go-to-market path to our implementation process to help companies optimize user conversion funnels, provide proactive problem-solving for user onboarding, and train internal employees on managing common questions from vehicle owners.

Launching your product

Launch day is exciting and nerve-wracking, but we’re here to make sure everything runs smoothly. We include on-call Smartcar support during product rollouts and rapid turnaround time on any issues.

“We have regular drivers who sign up for free and have questions about the onboarding process and sharing data. We trust Smartcar’s Customer Success team to work directly with our customers when they run into issues,” says Case.

Maintaining success

As your customer base matures and your product offerings grow, we work alongside you to keep integrations aligned with business goals and development targets. Customers will continue to work with a dedicated Customer Success Manager while having access to additional support channels like chat, email, and phone.

“Smartcar’s Customer Success team has been happy to jump on the phone with our customers when back and forth emailing became ineffective to address concerns,” Leonard adds. “Since Recurrent isn’t equipped to offer phone support at the moment, that’s been very helpful.”

Lean on our strengths, grow with our community

Think of us as extended members of your company. We’re here to share our knowledge, provide a fresh pair of eyes for all your great ideas, and most importantly, become an expert on your product so we can continue advocating for your success.

But we’re not the only ones rooting for you. Over the years, we’ve worked with and created a community of founders, developers, and technology enthusiasts who share the same excitement and vision for the future of mobility. Beyond the scope of technical implementation and development, we want to empower your growth through partnerships with our marketing team and introductions to other customers in our network.

More questions? Reach out to us at support@smartcar.com or send us a message through the chat icon on the bottom right of your screen.

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-date with announcements from Smartcar and innovations from our customers and friends in the mobility industry!

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Inside Smartcar: What I learned about building a great team

Ashwin Kumar Subramanian

4 min read

May 4, 2022
Culture
Live SiteStaging Site

My name is Ashwin Subramanian, a Staff Software Engineer who’s been a part of the Smartcar team for a little over two years now. I hope to share some of my learnings on creating a collaborative work environment through great teamwork. If you’re looking for ideas on what goes into a strong team, I hope this post helps!

The first time I heard about Smartcar was during a hackathon I attended in early 2019 where they were one of the main sponsors. I was a fairly regular attendee of hackathons in the San Francisco Bay Area, but I found this to be one of the most unique ones.  

Not every day would I see live cars parked, ready to interact with APIs programmatically. It was also not a common occurrence for me to have a detailed conversation with the CEO and Lead Engineer of a sponsoring company — Smartcar’s very own, Sahas Katta.

Believe in the mission

All my interactions with the Smartcar team showed a visible passion for building a very niche product. It motivated me to add an item to my never-ending list of yearly goals — I wanted to build a library for them in the programming language of my expertise as my little way of contributing to the product’s usability. I had a habit of doing this to keep in touch with any interesting APIs or services I would encounter during hackathons.

Eventually, I finished building the library and sent it over to the lovely folks at Smartcar. What followed was a welcome surprise. I woke up to a tweet by Sahas, which progressed into another casual conversation. The purpose of writing this library was for me to contribute to an interesting product. But that eventually led to me interviewing at Smartcar.

Smartcar's culture is driven by four core values, which include empowerment and respect.

The gesture shown to me was an example of how the team at Smartcar practices these values regularly. Now tell me...how could I deny the opportunity to work for a company like this?

Put people before technology

Weeks passed and now I was on the other side of the interview process. I was shadowing my manager to learn more about how interviews were conducted, and there I learned my next lesson:

Technology can be taught, but attitude and passion come from within.

One would imagine that a startup moves so fast that it would make more sense to hire someone who already has a handle on the technology. On the contrary, Smartcar puts a lot of emphasis on passion and a penchant for learning. The scale is tipped towards how a candidate solves a problem rather than just the end result. There is also a huge focus on cultural values every step of the way. This approach seems to be working really well as we scale up our headcount fast!

So, you hired great talent. What comes next?

Just like code, building a team is not enough; maintaining it is equally important.

Through my one-on-one sessions with my manager, I began to realize that my personal goals often aligned with company goals. For instance, one of my aspirations upon joining the team was to know more about the inner workings of the API language and framework as I was relatively new to the technology stack. I did this by navigating through code and laying the groundwork for our new error handling measures, which were eventually released as a part of our API 2.0 (read more about it here). My goals doubled as a contribution to Smartcar’s goal of providing as much useful and reliable information as we can to developers.

This gives me a sense of purpose in everything I’m doing at Smartcar.

I was always given the opportunity to pursue any idea I had to improve how the team functions, be it on the technical side or at a process level. Initiatives are welcomed, encouraged, and discussed with great zeal. This keeps my job interesting and exciting on a daily basis.

Many interesting brainstorming sessions end up turning into great collaborative ventures. Needless to say, it is not just Fridays that are happy for us at Smartcar!

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy!

Generally, working at a startup comes with new challenges. But working at a startup like Smartcar, a company that does something so unique, comes with problems that have never been solved.

While this keeps everyone invested, it is also very demanding in its own way. Luckily, Smartcar ensures that balance is always maintained. We have flexible PTO, quarterly organization-wide events, frequent team gatherings, and many more surprise events that keep us energized.

Even during the toughest times of the pandemic, we had interesting events like remote escape rooms and gaming sessions (yes, we did play "Among Us"!) which end up being a great way to keep in touch and relieve fatigue despite not seeing each other.

At Smartcar we are dealing with the uncharted territories of standardizing connected vehicle APIs. Every day we work with the satisfaction and awareness that we are shaping the future of the connected vehicle space. We always keep our mission in mind: Empowering developers to build the future of mobility.

Does any of this sound interesting to you? Do you want to be part of an awesome team that is pioneering an industry?  If so, you are in luck because we’re hiring! 🚀 Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.

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How APIs accelerate commercial auto insurance underwriting

Winona Rajamohan

7 min read

April 26, 2022
Auto insurance
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In this joint blog with payroll and HR API provider, Finch, learn how information retrieval with APIs help increase revenue, quality of services, and productivity for commercial auto insurance providers.

Over the past 10 years, commercial auto underwriters have cited more than $22 billion in underwriting losses. To achieve long-term profitability, a 2020 report calls on providers to strengthen their collective focus on pricing, underwriting, and claims handling.

The industry is already responding.

Companies are taking advantage of stronger data ecosystems to withstand post-pandemic insurance prices, restrictive policies, and anxious drivers. Auto insurance rates have increased 3% in the United States from 2020 to 2021—but the rise in emerging telematics-based solutions has saved policyholders 4% on their insurance.

APIs can help commercial auto insurance providers improve underwriting models and customer experiences, whether that’s by streamlining broker communication or automating the retrieval of policyholder information.

In this blog post, learn how APIs can contribute to your goals and why the opportunity cost of implementation has never been lower.

How APIs give the commercial auto insurance providers a competitive advantage

For the commercial auto insurance industry, the potential advantages of API integrations—particularly integrations with vehicle data systems and HR and payroll systems—bolster customer satisfaction, retention, and profit margins. Here’s how:

Improve underwriting processes with real-time, granular data visibility 📈

API integrations help you stream data straight from the source, ensuring your underwriting model is informed by the most complete and up-to-date information available. For vehicle integrations, that includes commonly misreported data attributes like odometer readings, VINs, and garaging locations, while HR and payroll system integrations enable you to collect your customers’ employee census records in seconds.

Reduce operating costs with automated workflows ⏳

In the United States and Europe, companies spend an average of 5 hours each week on the duplication of responsibilities—time that you could otherwise spend delivering higher quality services and products. Without automation, you lose significant time sorting, extracting, and analyzing large sets of data on drivers, vehicles, and driving records.

An API helps your business speed up claims management by seamlessly communicating data across claimants, carriers, and brokers. By automating what data is retrieved from vehicles and when, businesses can avoid repetitive manual processes, hefty spreadsheets, and missing information. In short, your operational productivity increases as you reduce in-house costs for data management and quality assurance.

Increase revenue with a better user experience 💰

Amidst shifting workplace expectations and added economic anxiety, employers are more confident working with insurance carriers that are responsive, accurate, and easy to use. That’s how APIs give you a competitive edge—by allowing quick access to customer data for efficient broker communication and higher-quality risk assessment processes.

The stream of rich, real-time data APIs helps your business evolve beyond just insurance. The data visibility that APIs enable can position your app as a forward-thinking partner that guides customers to make better decisions. All of this starts with the standardization of data retrieval processes and the elimination of cumbersome CSV file uploads, reducing friction for all parties involved.

Remove the need for aftermarket hardware devices ⚙

Tracking devices on policyholders’ vehicles can provide useful information on their driving habits—but they are expensive, vulnerable to tampering, and prone to loss, damage, and labor-intensive installation.  In contrast, an API integration can communicate directly with the embedded cellular modems built into most new vehicles. They’re easy to set up, don’t require any hardware or installation, and reduce the risk of fraud.

APIs power more access to vehicle data

Enrollment for telematics-based insurance saw significant growth during the pandemic and is used by the most popular auto insurers today. Nearly half of the drivers who were given a telematics option for car insurance in 2021 opted into the program.

Connected car API platforms like Smartcar communicate directly with 4G and 5G telematics modems that are built into vehicles. In a few steps, Smartcar’s API can retrieve vehicle data such as odometer readings, location, VIN, and vehicle attributes.

For usage-based insurance (UBI) analytics provider True Mileage, odometer readings are automatically retrieved by clients at regular intervals. “I was completely awestruck when I learned that Smarcar enables insurers to connect to over 112 million vehicles,” said Ryan Morrison, CEO at True Mileage.

Here’s how that works:

  1. Customers link their car to your app: Vehicle owners are brought through Smartcar’s authorization flow, Smartcar Connect. The customer logs in with their car brand’s connected services account. In 2021, 66% of U.S. drivers were using connected car services. Check out Smartcar’s guides on how drivers can set up a connected services account if they don’t have one already.
  2. Customers consent to share their car information: Smartcar lets vehicle owners review exactly what information will be shared with your insurance app. Vehicles are linked only after the customer clicks “Allow” on the screen.
  3. The app requests vehicle data: After the customer has linked their vehicle, your app can begin collecting the necessary data to offer the best claims management processes and quotes.

With a single integration across multiple vehicle brands, you can improve data aggregation and extraction, present better quotes to customers, and expand risk management efforts with predictive analytics and pattern recognition.

APIs make it easy to retrieve employee information

Vehicle integrations are just the beginning. For commercial auto insurance providers, retrieving employee information is just as critical. Fortunately, Finch’s API makes it easy and intuitive. In just a few clicks, your customers can grant you access to their HR or payroll system, enabling a direct data stream and all of the insights that come with it.

The process is simple:

  • Finch Connect (a secure front-end modal) prompts your customers to choose their payroll or HR system.
  • Your customers authorize a set of permissions by entering their admin or API credentials into that system.
  • The connection is established.

From there, you can begin pulling the data you need to process a customer’s policy and enroll employees in coverage. Finch’s API endpoints offer remarkable depth, including:

  • Company data like your customers’ legal business name, EIN, departmental phone numbers, primary bank account number, and official address
  • Directory data, as in a full roster of your customers’ employees (historic and current), their first and last names, personal and work email addresses, date of birth, and home address
  • Employment data like job title (historic and current), supervisor, employment status (active or contractor, full-time or part-time), start date, and salary

In effect, Finch turns what was once a 30-day process, marked by clumsy document uploads and (seemingly) endless email back-and-forth, into a 30-second one—complete with richer, reliably accurate data.

To build or to buy?

There are many components to launching a software-driven auto insurance product for customers. You might consider custom integrations with vehicles and employer software, but the cost of building and maintaining all of those connections can impede product development and go-to-market plans.

Of course, reaping the benefits of providers like Smartcar and Finch requires outsourcing your API integrations, as opposed to building them in-house.

You may be asking yourself “do we build or do we buy?” While it’s natural to assume you can take on the work yourself (you do have a team of engineers, after all), there are a number of considerations you should weigh before taking that leap:

Team bandwidth and priorities 🗓

How much faster would you execute your roadmap if your team’s attention wasn’t split between your product and integrations? Integrations come with a heavy price tag when you consider the hours your team would spend building and maintaining connections. In fact, one Finch customer estimates it saved up to $100,000 by opting not to build in-house.

It takes a dedicated team to consistently monitor and troubleshoot APIs while providing technical support for both customers and internal teams building new features around the integration infrastructure. Partnering with an API platform can save your technical team weeks of engineering work that could otherwise be spent on core projects for customer acquisition and growth.

Agility to scale 🧾

Building one integration in-house might seem doable, but a single integration will only cover a fraction of your customer base. Your APIs need to scale as your audience does, but instead of getting easier, integrations only become more complex as you add to them. Disparate data sources have different data models, and the lack of standardization would force your developers to sort through heaps of unformatted data that your product does not need. When not done correctly, it can end up requiring a lot of manual intervention to make right.

A pre-built API ecosystem gives you the agility to expand existing offerings without the cost of developing new systems from scratch or upending existing ones. When smart charging app, Optiwatt, expanded its product compatibility to five new vehicle brands, they used Smartcar to ensure in-house developers could focus on upcoming new features instead.

Data privacy and security 🔐

Although APIs have become a common solution for businesses, these integrations are still vulnerable to cybersecurity risks if the right measures aren’t taken. Companies building their own API connections will need to stay on top of compliance processes and certifications at all times to build user confidence and meet industry standards. If you’re integrating your solution with vehicles, you will need to build out authentication, permissions, and token management systems to securely transfer mobility data with an API token. This increases the complexities of your integration development, especially when multiple OEMs don’t have their own tokens process in place.

Compounding maintenance costs 🛑

As a matter of course, integrations eventually break or malfunction due to system updates on your end or changes to the format of your data sources. Monitoring and troubleshooting these changes is a full-time job that will rob your team of valuable time and energy they could be spending on your core product. By having a dedicated team of experts to monitor and troubleshoot API errors, your business reduces the risk of technical backlogs and inconsistencies. Not only does this help you manage your maintenance costs, but it also increases the reliability of your product and boosts customer confidence.

Helping you build what your customers need

A great API platform is committed to ensuring high-quality integrations so you can spend your time building high-quality products. You can get started with API keys from Finch to connect to Human Capital Management systems or contact the Smartcar team to see how our vehicle integrations can benefit you!

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How to optimize EV smart charging for stronger grids and revenue

Winona Rajamohan

5 min read

April 13, 2022
EV charging
Events
Energy
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What is EV smart charging? In Smartcar's joint webinar with Optiwatt and Leap, we discussed how EVs can be maximized as grid resources, integrating EVs into smart charging programs, and overcoming vehicle-to-grid challenges.

The smart charging ecosystem is evolving, and many businesses are looking to break into this market with unique products and services. But an emerging use case like smart charging introduces unfamiliar business challenges for leaders and stakeholders, especially when it comes to monetizing offerings, attracting customers, and implementing technologies at scale.

Here are a few tips from our speakers on how smart charging programs can support electric grids and increase grid revenue (📺 and you can watch a full replay of the webinar here):

🔌 Introducing customer preferences in demand response

🔋 Integrating EVs into the grid

⚡ Monetizing smart charging through energy markets

What is smart charging?

Smart charging is an energy demand response initiative that allows utilities to actively manage when EVs are being charged in a particular territory. The goal of smart EV charging — or managed charging — is to use EVs to reduce electricity consumption when the grid is strained.

So, how does smart charging work?

Unlike conventional EV charging, smart charging automatically schedules charging during hours when electricity demand is lower. For example, PG&E is a utility that can charge higher rates from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Northern and Central California since that's when more customers are at home and using electrical appliances. Smart charging programs will automatically start charging EVs outside of these hours.

Smart charging is most effective when it's built on seamless communication between electric vehicles and the grid. EV smart charging does not have to be bidirectional vehicle-to-grid communication. There are two types of EV smart charging, both of which involve one-way vehicle-to-grid integrations: 

  • Passive EV smart charging: Relies on EV owners to set their own charging schedules after aligning it for their convenience, lower grid emissions, cheaper rates, and more. 
  • Active EV smart charging: Gives EV owners a ‘set it and forget it’ approach to EV charging, using real-time grid conditions to automatically influence charging schedules, avoid peak hours, and optimize household energy consumption.

What are the benefits of EV smart charging?

Research from Leap found that if all Level 2 EV chargers participated in smart charging by 2025, grids could offset a year’s worth of electricity consumption from, 1,700 homes.

Do you need a Level 2 smart EV charger for this?

The fact that not every EV owner has a Level 2 charger — with some studies showing that only 35% of EV drivers have a Level 2 smart EV charger at home — is not a hindrance to the impact of EV smart charging. 

With an EV API, smart charging programs can easily enroll electric vehicle programs through the driver’s connected services subscription. Not only does this eliminate friction for EV owners, it unlocks more granular charging data than what an EV charger can provide — like a vehicle’s state of charge, which is essential for proactive EV smart charging. 

Shifting energy loads away from off-peak hours also gives grids the flexibility they need to rely on sustainable energy and reduce grid emissions. “A lot of solar and wind [energy sources] in the grid can create variability, especially during that day when that power might almost be free,” says Thomas Folker, CEO at Leap.

Does smart EV charging really work? Yes! Studies have proven the impact of EV smart charging to increase the utilization of renewable energy sources, reduce energy costs, and accelerate projects to scale grid infrastructure.

Smart charging benefits everyone:

  • Grids lower carbon emissions: Optimized charging can reduce renewable energy curtailment by 40%.
  • Electric vehicle drivers save money: Peak rates can be 5x more than off-peak rates. Drivers can save over $300 a year in charging costs.
  • Grids save operating costs: 5 million EVs with smart charging can save California grids up to over $600 million in operating costs with automated load balancing.
  • EV businesses generate grid services revenue: Offsetting a year’s worth of electricity from 1,700 homes could generate over $4 million in grid services revenue.
How smart charging apps like Optiwatt help drivers save money

How Optiwatt optimizes EV smart charging efficiency with software partners

There are many moving parts to building a successful smart charging business. Finding the right technology partners can help your team meet product roadmaps and productivity goals without sacrificing the quality of your service.

Optiwatt is a free direct-to-consumer app that helps EV owners schedule charging during hours when electricity rates and emissions are lower.

“Optiwatt’s mission here is to make sure we can enroll millions of EV owners into demand response events in a way that they’re actually comfortable with, without feeling like a guinea pig in the system,” says Casey Donahue, CEO at Optiwatt.

The app gives an EV owner the convenience of personalizing their charging experience. With an intuitive and easy-to-use application, EV drivers can quickly use their utility bills to influence the charging process. Drivers can practice intelligent energy management with visibility into their energy usage, electricity price, and granular information about each EV charging session.

Executing this mission at scale becomes more effective when components like building EV integrations and participating in Independent System Operator (ISO) markets are handled by experienced vendors in the ecosystem. Watch a clip from the webinar below to learn how Optiwatt works with Smartcar and Leap to help EV drivers manage their charging.

Vehicle-to-grid technology for EV smart charging

“Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) is the swiss army knife of the grid. It enables everything a traditional gas power plant can do but clean and decarbonized,” Folker says.

But connecting EVs to the grid isn’t easy. In fact, attendees at our webinar said it was the biggest challenge to implementing an EV smart charging program.

Greatest challenge faced by businesses when implementing smart charging programs

“Not having a way to know when cars need to be recharged or having a way to control when a car should charge makes it difficult to manage the addition of all the EVs were adding to the grid,” says Sahas Katta, CEO at Smartcar.

The great news is that we don’t need hardware to make it happen. Roughly 97% of EVs today are shipped with built-in 4G or 5G cellular modems. But developers still face the bottleneck of having their software communicate with these vehicles at scale.

Building and maintaining EV APIs with over 200 unique models across a dozen brands is difficult, especially if your team is focused on the implementation of programs and the acquisition of participants.  

That’s why Optiwatt uses Smartcar’s APIs to see when and where an electric vehicle is charging, the amount of charge a vehicle needs, and to automatically start charging at optimal times.  You can learn more about how Optiwatt uses Smartcar’s APIs in this customer story.

How do smart charging businesses get revenue?

Smart charging businesses can monetize their efforts by participating in energy markets. Leap’s infrastructure helps apps like Optiwatt sell or buy back power at attractive prices so that EVs can be used to replace electricity generation from fossil fuels.

When EVs are connected to the cloud, they’re able to communicate with Leap and integrate themselves into the energy market. If your company isn’t in the business of trading energy all day long, outsourcing those efforts to platforms like Leap helps you focus on product goals and technology development.

As a free app, Optiwatt makes money by helping utilities reduce peak load. Using Leap, Optiwatt is notified when there are peak load events so drivers can be prevented from charging during those hours. By lowering grid stress while ensuring drivers get their vehicles charged on time, Optiwatt meets customer needs for scheduled charging while seamlessly monetizing their efforts.

How EV businesses monetize their smart charging programs

Are you launching an EV smart charging program or service?

At our webinar, 43% of our attendees came from companies that are currently monetizing EV smart charging while 14% said they had plans to monetize EV charging soon.

If you’re curious to learn more about how to optimize your EV charging business for increased grid revenue and customer acquisition, watch a replay of the webinar here.

We’ve also included a few helpful resources below. For more information, get in touch with someone from Smartcar and Leap or download the Optiwatt app today!

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Inside Smartcar: How I made my way to marketing in tech

Amber Livingston

3 min read

April 1, 2022
Culture
Live SiteStaging Site

Hi there! 👋 I'm Amber Livingston, Marketing Manager at Smartcar. I wanted to share how I shaped my career in marketing by moving across the country after college. I hope this post is able to help anyone tinkering with the idea of doing something new or out of their comfort zone in order to go after their goals.

I started my marketing journey at Florida State University (FSU), studying media and communications — and like most college students, I had no idea what life was going to look like after those four years. But, I knew I loved social media and that I was interested in its influence over modern society’s decision-making and behavior.

I found myself growing more curious, thinking about  questions like, "How will people feel when they see this image?” or “How will others react after reading this caption over another?"

One question led to another, and then another, and finally, it led me to an opportunity to pursue research at FSU's Cognition and Emotion Lab, studying the effects of media on the brain. By the time I joined the lab, I was certain about exploring a future in advertising, social media, or marketing, specifically in industries that had anything to do with health and wellness, fitness, cars, and technology.  

These industries piqued my interest because I grew up observing and understanding how each shaped my personal experiences and the experiences of those around me.

Health and fitness is a passion of mine that I meticulously dedicate my time to — from looking up healthy recipes and experimenting with different workouts, you name it.  As for cars, I grew up in a family that enjoyed the adrenaline of watching fast cars and being on a track. My dad introduced me to his passion for cars by taking me along with him — from go-karting to watching car races.

Fast forward years later and here I am writing this blog post — and as you can tell, I managed to pursue the career I envisioned.  

Being a marketing manager at Smartcar, a tech startup in an exciting industry that I’ve grown to love is something my younger self would be proud to see.

My Smartcar journey

I first heard about Smartcar on LinkedIn when Mathilde, our Head of HR, invited me to grab coffee with Smartcar’s Chief Barketing Officer, Napa the Yorkie. I mean, it was hard to say no to that.

That one meeting evolved into what has been an exciting and motivating next two years of my career, in which I’ve had the opportunity to learn and execute ideas and strategies for growing Smartcar's brand, events, and communication channels. Whether it's implementing marketing automation tools to better our tech stack, working with innovative founders and product owners on joint events, or hosting webinars for hundreds of engaged attendees, I’m consistently growing as a marketer and team player by overcoming new challenges and achieving new successes.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over two years already, but it has been incredible to see how much growth and success Smartcar has undergone since my first few days here. We’ve raised our Series B financing, moved to a remote-first culture, and welcomed many new faces to the team. I'm grateful to be a part of this journey.

Working at Smartcar is a unique opportunity because every day looks slightly different, and presents new opportunities and challenges. But through it all, the balanced work culture and genuine support from everyone on the team is something that makes showing up every day feel valuable and exciting.

We're growing

I'm excited to share that we're hiring across many different departments! Learn about our open positions, interview process, and company values by visiting our careers page 💼

If you're curious about working in marketing at Smartcar, I am always here to help, and I'd be happy to connect with you.

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Simple and social climate action: How Caremiles measures your car's carbon footprint

Winona Rajamohan

5 min read

March 28, 2022
Customer story
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Caremiles makes climate conversations easier by breaking down the carbon impact of your car travel in units of trees. The app has partnered with Smartcar to help drivers measure their vehicle's carbon footprint and offset those emissions on an ongoing basis.

Climate change campaigns aren’t typically known for their optimism.

We're often encouraged to act through phrases like “Facing extinction” and “Stop climate change before it changes you."

Fear-inducing call-to-action phrases are designed for a purpose. These campaigns follow the Extreme Consequence method, in which individuals are shown an undesirable extreme consequence so human emotion can be leveraged as a tool for persuasion.

Today, the most common feelings associated with the climate crisis include feeling alarmed, concerned, angry, sad, and guilty. But in a world heavily riddled with bad news and misinformation — and no social media off switch — negativity bears the risk of desensitizing an already skeptical audience.

Studies have shown that individuals who are engaged with the right emotions are more likely to respond to climate change action in a favorable way.

Caremiles is a climate action platform that uses connected car technology to educate individuals through empowerment instead of fear. The app has partnered with Smartcar to enable drivers to:

✍ Measure their car’s climate impact.
🌳 Mitigate that impact regularly through rewards and incentives.

Demystifying the impact of driving an EV

The average driver is still largely unaware of how EVs are impacting transportation emissions — even existing EV drivers hesitate when asked to quantify the impact their vehicle leaves on the climate.

When coupled with the extreme consequence of an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle ban, a lack of understanding about the climate impact of cars can easily lead to skepticism and doubt.

Caremiles is a carbon footprint calculator that aims to make climate science relatable, easy to understand, and exciting to learn about. The app shows drivers their car's climate impact in converted units of trees instead of carbon metric tonnes.

Kashif Sohail, founder and CEO of Caremiles, found an “obvious need to move away from scientific terms and to bring [climate] conversations mainstream.” By quantifying carbon metric tonnes with a unit that everyday drivers can visualize immediately, Caremiles aims to remove barriers to participating in climate discussions at home, school, offices, and social gatherings.

Caremiles uses Smartcar’s API to retrieve data on a vehicle’s VIN and mileage. Based on the vehicle’s fuel efficiency and the number of miles driven, Caremiles calculates the number of trees that need to be planted to offset carbon emissions produced.

After informing users of their climate impact, Caremiles allows them to purchase trees directly within the app to mitigate the impact of their trips. The app partners with Trees for the Future, a global organization aimed at ending hunger and poverty by training farmers to regenerate their land by planting trees.

Rewards make the message stick

In a surge of climate technology apps, Caremiles differentiates itself by modeling its philosophy, product design, and user experience after a behavioral study on the effects of pride versus guilt messaging in environmental campaigns.

“Our work is based on research that shows how creating an image of pride in one’s future based on their actions today is more effective than guilt or fear. This is even more remarkably true when people are making pro-environment decisions,” Sohail says.

Caremiles has facilitated the planting of over 4,000 trees through driver action and a built-in reward system. One of them is an incentive for EV drivers that measures the number of trees saved just by driving an EV around. For every tree saved, Caremiles plants a tree for free. The app will be rolling out incentives for drivers of gas-powered vehicles to help them transition to electric vehicles in the future.

“As I’m driving an EV, it’s awesome to see how I’m making a real difference with the number of trees that I have planted,” says a user in an online review of the app.

Caremiles has also incorporated a leaderboard to allow users to send each other kudos for planting trees as part of its latest feature, Teams. Organizations, schools, and businesses can use Teams to invite friends to track and mitigate carbon emissions together on the app. With Teams, Caremiles is making climate change a more social and engaging topic by allowing drivers to actively keep each other accountable and motivated.

Mobilizing climate education with technology

Designing an impactful and low-friction user experience called for Caremiles to forgo hardware and build their app with a software-based vehicle integration. The app retrieves a car’s VIN and odometer reading directly from the vehicle via connected car technology. This ensures more consistency, transparency, and accuracy than using on-board diagnostic devices and smartphone telematics.

“In my opinion, connected car technology for climate tech is what Zoom was to COVID-19 in mid-2020,” said Sohail.

The app uses Smartcar’s API to enroll drivers across 24 vehicle brands without the extensive cost of building and maintaining custom integrations themselves.

Users can easily connect their vehicles to the Caremiles app using Smartcar's Connect authorization flow. With just a few clicks, drivers can review and approve the vehicle data they share with Caremiles on an ongoing basis.

“In a strategic partnership with Smartcar, we have the opportunity to turn climate change and carbon emissions into a daily social conversation. The ability for a user to securely link to their car’s account dashboard without collecting any private information of the driver is unprecedented,” said Sohail.

Learn more about Caremiles here or download the app on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store today!

 


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar or Caremiles.

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How many connected cars are sold worldwide?

Charlotte Kosche

7 min read

March 21, 2022
Product
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Since 2014, more and more vehicles have featured embedded cellular modems, allowing them to connect to the internet. In this post, we’ll answer how many connected cars are being sold and operated today, and how this opens up opportunities for your business.

In the 1990s, the introduction of on-board diagnostics led to the connected car. Vehicle connectivity back then was simply meant for drivers to quickly place emergency calls during an accident.

Since then, U.S. drivers have clocked in 50% more miles driven while fatalities per 100 million miles have dropped by 20%. The connected car has grown far beyond emergency calls, bridging vehicle data with cellular networks for advanced GPS navigation, traffic alerts, maintenance warnings, and more.

When compared to the modern-day evolution of computers and phones, cars may look like they’re moving at a much slower pace. But the foundation for automotive innovation is set. It’s just been too difficult for new ideas to breach the surface.

The use cases of a smartphone multiplied tenfold because third-party apps found new ways to elevate our daily habits and processes with cellular connectivity. Yet complex and fragmented automotive design systems have limited developers from tapping into the vast potential of connected cars in the same way.

Not anymore.

In this guide, learn how many connected cars are on the road today and how businesses are taking advantage of this number to build apps for vehicle experiences, policies, behavior, and more.

How many connected cars are there worldwide?

30 million new connected vehicles were sold in 2020, making up around 41% of new car sales worldwide.

Pie chart showing the 30 million connected cars were sold globally in 2020, making up 41% of all new cars sold worldwide.
In 2020, 30 million new connected vehicles were sold worldwide (Sources: ABI Research, IEA)

But every year, vehicle manufacturers equip more of their models with internet connectivity. ABI Research expects over half of all new vehicles sold in 2022 to be connected.

91% of new car sales in the U.S. are connected

The United States had the largest percentage of connected vehicles sold in 2020. Of all passenger cars sold, around 91% were connected. That’s over 13 million connected vehicles sold in the U.S. alone.

This number is set to grow rapidly over the coming years.

Researchers predict that 96% of all new vehicles shipped in 2030 will have built-in connectivity.  

Bar chart showing that in 2020, 13 million connected cars were sold in the United States, making up 91% of all new vehicle sales in the country.
In 2020, 91% of new cars sold in the United States were connected cars. (Sources: ABI Research, Marklines)

What is a connected car?

A connected car is a vehicle shipped with a built-in 3G, 4G, or 5G cellular modem right from the factory. With internet connectivity, the car can communicate with apps and services, similar to how a smartphone would. Connected cars can also communicate with external networks and infrastructure, like other vehicles,  electrical grids, roads, and buildings.

Each car manufacturer develops its own connected services account. This lets drivers access vehicle information from a mobile app that communicates with the car’s embedded cellular modem. For example, Chevrolet’s connected services account is called OnStar and their mobile app is called MyChevrolet.

Vehicle telemetry data include a car’s location, odometer reading, fuel tank level or EV battery level, tire pressure, and engine oil life. Using the app, vehicle owners can check the location of their car, lock and unlock it, preheat the car, and get notified when they run low on gas—all directly from their phones.

The first mass deployment of vehicles with 4G LTE happened in 2014. By 2015, mobile apps like Chevrolet’s now-discontinued RemoteLink were already seeing millions of interactions a month from connected services subscribers. Today, 66% of drivers in the U.S. use connected services.

How is connected car data used?

Connected car data was introduced to power capabilities across use cases like infotainment, safety, navigation, diagnostics and efficiency, and payments. But today, connected cars — which includes 97% of electric vehicles — produce data that directly impact new and emerging use cases for sustainable energy, research and development, auto insurance, and transportation infrastructure.

🍃 Sustainable energy

Vehicle connectivity allows utilities and third-party partners to facilitate communication between power grids and electric vehicles. Managed charging is a form of demand response that energy companies can implement to control grid load during peak electricity usage hours.

Utilities are able to integrate directly with EVs using EV APIs and obtain information on battery capacities or state of charge within a designated area. This helps them predict loads on the grid, set time-of-use rates, or remotely start and stop charging to actively manage demand.

How apps are doing this: Mobile application, Optiwatt, works with utilities and EV drivers to help schedule charging during hours with lower demand for electricity and cheaper rates. Vehicle owners provide Optiwatt information on their electricity providers and integrate their vehicles to the app to see detailed information on electricity demand in the area and the best hours to charge their vehicles.

🔍 Research and development

Experts predict R&D optimization to be one of the most monetizable use cases for connected car data by 2030. R&D efforts include using connected car data to conduct studies on vehicle health, driving behavior, EV charging patterns, and more. Local governments, public entities, corporations, and end-consumers can benefit from up-to-date automotive databases to help with infrastructure planning, automotive sales, technology implementation, or business strategy.

How apps are doing this: Battery report software, Recurrent, uses vehicle connectivity to build battery health reports for drivers who integrate their EVs with the app. By obtaining data on battery capacity and usage, Recurrent is able to build a rich dataset of battery information across different EV makes and models. These reports facilitate the sales of used EVs for both drivers and sellers.

🚘 Mobility insurance

Shifts in driving behavior during the pandemic have led insurance companies to reevaluate risk assessment methods. Top auto insurers in the United States are using vehicle telematics to administer hardware-free pay-per-mile solutions. This allows them to retrieve mileage readings directly from odometers, unlike OBD-II dongles that calculate approximate mileage based on location and start and end times of a driver’s trip. With car connectivity, insurance providers find it easier to price premiums more accurately, which prevents intentional or unintentional mileage underreporting.

How apps are doing this: Usage-based insurance analytics provider, True Mileage, connects to vehicles to verify mileage by time of day. This data is then run through the company’s analytics models to calculate an accurate discount for policyholders. This allows True Mileage to categorize risk and adjust rates accordingly when offering COVID-19 premium refunds. It also helps them continue offering suitable discounts to drivers in the long term.

🛣 Transportation infrastructure

Connected car data can be used to improve roads and infrastructure by enabling: 1) vehicle-to-vehicle communication, 2) vehicle-to-everything communication, 3) new ways to collect funds for services and improvements.

The roll-out of 5G technology will accelerate plans to use communication between cars and roads to manage congestion and proactively reduce collisions. States also verify mileage from electric vehicles to roll out road usage charge programs to help fund better roads and highways.

How apps are doing this: Tolling solutions provider, Emovis, uses vehicle connectivity to obtain accurate mileage readings from EVs for pay-per-mile road tax programs. In this program, EV owners opt in to pay for road usage based on the number of miles driven in place of a one-time registration fee.

Build vs Buy: How to get started with a connected car app

Smartphone screen showing a map with a vehicle's location as well as a lock button, and unlock button, the vehicle's mileage, and the vehicle's battery level.
The car sharing marketplace Turo uses Smartcar to offer contactless rentals to their customers.

If your business is developing an app for cars, a lot rides on your ability to manage multiple technology components and product deliverables. This includes but isn’t limited to hardware, software, data infrastructures, content and services, sales, and customer relationship management.

This is where you ask your team, “Do we build or do we buy connected car integrations?”

Ultimately, there are a few factors to help you make a decision.

Target markets: How many vehicle brands should your app communicate with to reach desired audiences? Building and maintaining vehicle integrations take time, headcount, and long-term costs. If you’re a smaller company or division planning to scale an app to 10 or 20 vehicle brands, you might want to consider a solution partner for API standardization.

Privacy management: Do you have the necessary compliance and protocols for authorizing and managing consumer data? And if not, do you have the time and talent to tackle this from scratch in-house? Connected car data is extremely valuable and closely scrutinized. With more consumers and businesses worried about API cybersecurity, your integrations need thorough protection from all kinds of risks.

Industry competition: Will you lose out on customers and market differentiation if product roadmaps are delayed by your technical strategy? Recurrent prioritized speed to market in the competitive EV battery software space. Working with an API partner helped them speed up production by 6 to 12 months.

Team bandwidth: Does your team have the time and headcount for core product delivery, additional infrastructure development, ongoing maintenance, and added customer support in the case of errors? Splitting the focus of your team can be detrimental to your go-to-market timelines. Integration quality should be unkept by a dedicated team with the necessary expertise and bandwidth.

Smartcar partners with mobility businesses to avoid these bottlenecks through a centralized platform and customer support. To learn more about our APIs for connected cars, schedule a free demo today or check out our beginner's guide to car APIs!

Originally published on April 15, 2021, updated on March 21, 2022.

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New at Smartcar: We’re now compatible with 24 vehicle brands!

Winona Rajamohan

3 min read

March 14, 2022
Product
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Our latest updates include new compatibility with an iconic brand, additional vehicle compatibility in Canada, endpoint upgrades for popular hybrids, and more!

In the United States, car sales dropped by over 20% in Q4 of 2021 compared to Q4 of 2020. But EV sales were up 72%, while sales for hybrid vehicles jumped by 84%.

In this wave of record highs for EV sales, a few car brands garnered notable interest. Teslas continued to dominate the EV market, Toyota and Lexus vehicles led the way for hybrids, and the all-electric Mini Cooper SE became the brand’s most popular model this past year.

Guess what? Our latest product updates include more compatibility with all of those brands!

Giving our brand compatibility a +1

And by that, we mean a +1 to bring our brand compatibility from 23 to 24!

We're thrilled to announce that Smartcar is now compatible with 2018 and newer MINI vehicles in the U.S., Canada, and Europe 🎉

The MINI brand is synonymous with its unique build and racecar-like performance, making waves with new fan favorites like the Mini Cooper SE — which InsideEVs calls “one of the most enjoyable MINIs to drive in the brand's entire lineup.”

Developers can now use our APIs with MINI to verify mileage, determine location, check EV battery capacity, retrieve charging status, and more.

New brands in Canada

We're also excited to introduce even more vehicle compatibility in Canada! With Smartcar, apps can now connect to 2018 and newer models of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and RAM vehicles. Take advantage of popular API endpoints like remote lock and unlock, tire pressure, EV battery, engine oil life, and more.

Smartcar also has existing compatibility with these brands in the United States. For a complete list of makes and endpoints, visit our vehicle compatibility page.

More EV endpoints for Lexus and Toyota vehicles

At Smartcar, we want to ensure that your apps deliver the best customer experience for connected vehicles on the road today.

That’s why we're introducing new platform capabilities for Lexus and Toyota models to improve data accessibility and user onboarding.

🔋 EV endpoints for battery level, charging status, and start/stop charge: Apps can use our EV API endpoints to access data from the 2021+ Toyota Prius Prime, 2021+ Toyota RAV4 Prime, and 2022+ Lexus NX PHEV.

🛞 Tire pressure endpoint: Retrieve air pressure for each tire from a vehicle’s Tire Pressure Monitoring System. This endpoint is compatible with select  2018 and newer models.

🔐 One-time password (OTP) support: The Smartcar Connect authorization flow now allows vehicle owners to sign into their connected services account with a OTP. This ensures smooth onboarding when vehicle owners are prompted with additional security validation upon logging in from a new device.

Hourly intervals for webhooks

Smartcar's scheduled webhooks allow apps to retrieve vehicle data on a recurring cadence. We now support webhook intervals between 1 hour and 1 day — such as every 2 hours, 3 hours, and so on.

With these new intervals, apps can better control the frequency of data pulled from each connected vehicle. Scheduled webhooks can be set up for any Smartcar endpoint that allows you to read vehicle data. Reach out to our Customer Success team if you have any questions about Smartcar webhooks and this new update.

In case you missed it: Brand-specific endpoints

At our Winter 2022 Product Showcase, we announced the launch of brand-specific endpoints!

Beyond the standard set of endpoints already offered by our API, brand-specific endpoints can be used to access more granular data for select brands — such as EV charging voltage and EV charging completion time.

As of today, these endpoints are available for Tesla, Cadillac, and Chevrolet.

How does this benefit your developer team?

  • Smartcar handles the nitty-gritty work of determining compatibility for each vehicle model and make.
  • Developers still get to work with all our standard API endpoints.
  • Maintain standardized error codes, permissions, and simple compatibility checks offered by Smartcar’s platform.

Our Head of Platform, Gurpreet Atwal, shared more on the philosophy behind this new feature in our Winter ‘22 showcase. You can watch the recording or read a recap of the event here.

As always, if you have any questions, feedback, or need help getting started, please don't hesitate to contact our Customer Success team.

Want to explore connected car APIs for your business? Schedule a demo today!

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A beginner's guide to car APIs

Winona Rajamohan

8 min read

March 4, 2022
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

From Tesla to Stellantis to Ford and General Motors, automakers are fueling their revenue engines by doubling down on software services. But innovation in the mobility industry cannot solely rest on automakers — it must be accessible to all developers with a vision to move the needle for vehicle owners.

Unfortunately, third-party developers have traditionally lacked standardized resources to build innovative apps that integrate with vehicles.

Some mobility businesses are forced to build and maintain fragmented connections with multiple APIs to serve their target audiences. Others are forced to turn to hardware devices to retrieve vehicle data despite the strain it imposes on overhead costs.

These challenges can pigeonhole products to limit their offerings to one or two vehicle brands. When apps aren’t built on an agile infrastructure for future expansion, it becomes difficult to serve emerging markets and new business models.

In this guide, you will learn how mobility companies accelerate market readiness by building their apps and services with a car API.

What does a car API look like in action?

Turo, the world’s biggest peer-to-peer marketplace, found that 36% of hosts list more than one car on the platform, making it difficult for hosts to show up in person for conflicting booking times. To help vehicle owners with unused cars find the most success with a peer-to-peer car sharing model, Turo needed a solution that could:

  1. Help hosts accommodate clashing bookings and rentals that take place after traditional operating hours
  2. Make it convenient for renters to find and access a vehicle without meeting hosts in-person
  3. Ensure vehicle security, customer safety, and smooth transactions in a contactless environment

To deliver this value to hosts, the company launched Turo Go to offer a contactless car sharing feature with vehicle integrations powered by a car API.

What is a car API?

A car API is a software intermediary that allows software applications and vehicles to talk to each other. When a mobility app sends an API request to a vehicle, data is retrieved to enable a particular functionality for end-users.

In the case of a vehicle owner linking cars to Turo Go, an API request is used to access a vehicle’s location and lock or unlock the vehicle’s doors. Turo uses Smartcar’s car API platform to manage these integrations across multiple vehicle makes and models.

Smartcar’s car API helps businesses work with a suite of standardized integrations to over 112 million cars across 23 vehicle brands — much like how Plaid and Stripe have simplified payment integrations to different credit cards and banks.  

This allows the mobility industry to expand on traditional services and offer new customer-driven models like peer-to-peer car sharing.

📖 Additional reading:

What is Smartcar? 👉 Learn how mobility businesses use Smartcar's APIs to scale services across vehicle makes and models.

How car APIs are redefining EV apps 👉 Examples of how are EV apps using car APIs to reduce friction in EV ownership

How does a connected car API integrate with vehicles?

Integrating a mobility app to vehicles with an API removes the need for devices plugged into a car’s onboard diagnostics port. But the absence of a hardware component does not make vehicle data less accurate or valuable.

Roughly 90% of innovation in the automotive space comes from software. So, it’s not a surprise to see more vehicles built with software-upgradeable features and wireless connectivity instead of ports for pluggable hardware devices.

What makes this possible? Here are a few important concepts you need to know:

Connected cars 🚗

A connected car is equipped with a 3G, 4G, or 5G cellular modem right from the factory. Internet connectivity in cars enables communication between vehicles and apps.

Beyond safety, infotainment, and navigation features, connected cars give drivers the ability to personalize their vehicle experience with digital solutions for auto insurance, car-sharing, EV charging, and more. Businesses have more opportunities to customize their services to better cater to a driver’s frequency of travel, location, and budget.

Here’s a popular question: “How many connected cars are on the road?”

Today there are approximately 237 million connected cars owned worldwide. Connected cars made up 41% of new car sales globally in 2020. Researchers expect 96% of new vehicles worldwide to be shipped with vehicle connectivity in 2030.

The growth of the connected car market is driven by a shift in consumer expectations. A survey conducted by PwC found that drivers in the United States do want vehicle connectivity, especially to improve navigation, road safety, and on-demand functions.

The importance of connected car services for consumers
Source: Digital Auto Report 2021

Embedded telematics 📶

“Telematics” is the technology that transfers information between telecommunication devices, computers, GPS satellite systems, and objects.

Embedded telematics is used to describe telematics technology found in automotive vehicles. Vehicle data — like GPS locations, odometer readings, or battery levels — are uploaded to a vehicle manufacturer’s cloud through the built-in cellular modem.

When the connected vehicle is linked to a cellular network, it becomes a device that can connect with other internet-connected devices.

Connected services accounts 📱

A connected services account allows you to remotely monitor and control your car using your car manufacturer’s mobile app. Each car manufacturer offers its own connected services account with a dedicated mobile app.

If your car is connected and uses embedded telematics, vehicle telemetry can be accessed by downloading your car manufacturer’s connected services application.

For example, Jeep’s connected services account and mobile app are both called Uconnect. On the other hand, BMW’s connected services account is called BMW ConnectedDrive while their mobile app is called BMW Connected.

You can find a more comprehensive list here of connected services and mobile apps. You can also head over to connectyourcar.com to check if your vehicle is eligible to integrate with Smartcar.

API access tokens ⚙

A third-party app can access vehicle data by either obtaining the login credentials to a connected services account, or by generating an access token to make an API request to the vehicle.

The latter option helps apps and services:

  • Reduce the risk of jeopardizing a customer’s private data
  • Implement a granular permissions system to authorize access based on user preferences

All requests made to a car API like Smartcar require an access token. The access token gives apps a secure way to make the API request, authorize connectivity to a vehicle, and then interact with that vehicle.

Smartcar’s platform is built to help apps send API requests to vehicles across different brands with a single integration.

The first step our customers take is by adapting Smartcar Connect — our OAuth 2.0 authorization flow — to their application architecture. From there, Smartcar can begin communicating with vehicles after a few clicks from the driver’s end.

📖 Additional reading:

Smartcar integration guide: 👉 Take a look at our docs to see how companies integrate with Smartcar to communicate with vehicles

Integrating with an API vs hardware devices

Mobility businesses build with a connected car API to avoid the following bottlenecks:

  • High cost of buying, installing, and shipping hardware like OBD-II dongles
  • Complex technical support for vehicle owners installing hardware themselves
  • Limited access to data from a wide range of vehicles
  • Difficulty customizing and evolving service areas for critical use cases

For battery report software Recurrent, retrieving data from connected vehicles saves time and lowers the cost of building large pools of battery health data across different vehicle makes and models. By streamlining API integrations with Smartcar, Recurrent was able to accelerate production by 6 to 12 months while saving millions of dollars in engineering resources.

How car APIs empower Mobility-as-a-Service

According to the MaaS Alliance, Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) is the integration of different types of transport services into a mobility service that’s accessible on demand. The apps we’ve talked about in this example are a few examples of how MaaS is changing the way consumers can interact with cars and transportation using technology.

The MaaS sector is expected to reach $40.1 billion by 2030. What drives this rapid growth? Automotive manufacturers, service providers, and partners who work together to innovate beyond typical offerings.

Capitalizing on API-driven software connectivity eases the crossover between sectors like automotive, technology, and government. This leads to better funding, technology, and research and development to create improved consumer experiences.

Today, the intersection of software and technology through a car API is helping businesses in several ways:

Strengthen existing revenue streams: Businesses like Axiom are even using car APIs to improve customer service by streamlining auto warranty management through an app.

Build new revenue streams: Coastr uses vehicle API integrations to enable keyless car entry, empowering small rental businesses to introduce new target audiences or adopt peer-to-peer car sharing.

Create new business models: Software-based integrations open up the door for new players and services in the mobility ecosystem, like pay-per-mile road taxes and solutions to help drivers calculate insurance premiums and discounts.

Is a car API platform the right choice for you?

A car API will prove helpful if your business is building a mobility app that:

  • Integrates with more than one car brand: Rolling Energy Resources (RER) works with utilities to power demand response with comprehensive EV load research. A car API platform helps RER gather data from a broad range of EVs to build insightful datasets.
     
  • Gives customers the choice of consenting to shared data: Tolling solution, Emovis, launched a pay-per-mile road tax program for the state of Utah. Consent-based data collection helps Emovis ease digital privacy concerns for drivers participating in a new form of tax collection.
     
  • Competes in a high-growth sector: We mentioned how Recurrent sped up production by 6 to 12 months by retrieving data with a car API platform. This speed to market was important for them as a pre-seed startup in the EV battery software space.
     
  • Requires heavy developer resources on product development: Managed charging app, Optiwatt, expanded vehicle support without building multiple third-party API connections on their own. This allowed them to focus on building product value for users rather than integration management.

Smartcar’s API is used by mobility services in many industries, from auto insurance to EV charging, car sharing, and even web3. To get started with our car API, take a look at our docs or talk to our team today!

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What you missed at our Winter '22 Product Showcase

Winona Rajamohan

4 min read

February 14, 2022
Product
Live SiteStaging Site

We’re often asked about the future of our platform given the rapid transformation of the automotive sector. With so many automakers racing toward widespread electrification and vehicle connectivity, how will Smartcar step up? We’re excited to announce brand-specific endpoints, more compatible