November 12, 2020

What is the best developer platform for cars?

Charlotte Kosche

Sr. Content Writer

Smartcar is the leading developer platform for mobility businesses in North America and Europe. From car sharing marketplaces to auto insurance providers and electric utility companies, developers of all kinds use our APIs to integrate their apps and services with cars. Whether you need to track a vehicle’s location, verify its mileage, share a virtual key, start charging an EV, or check the engine oil life, our platform lets you do so with a single API request.

But what makes Smartcar the best API platform for cars? Which characteristics define a good developer platform, and what is Smartcar doing to keep leading this category in the automotive space?

Developer experience

First and foremost, a good developer platform needs to focus on its users.

💻 Developer-centric

Smartcar is a product built by developers for developers. We make it incredibly easy to integrate any web or mobile app with cars. We are not a data marketplace, nor do we store any vehicle data. Smartcar simply acts as the link between mobility apps and their customer’s cars. For example, making an API request to unlock a vehicle is as simple as this:

👐 Self-service product

An important aspect of our developer experience is that we offer a self-service product. Anyone can go to and sign up for a free developer account. Our extensive documentation, API reference, and SDKs include every major programming language and lay out everything you need to integrate and test our APIs. They also make it easy for you to make your first request to a real vehicle, deploy your integration across your customer base, and scale your API usage.

💁‍♂️ Excellent support

Of course, whenever our documentation and support articles don’t answer your questions, our customer success team is here to help. In addition to speedy chat and email support, our paying customers benefit from 1:1 phone support, a dedicated customer success manager, tailored onboarding programs, and complimentary implementation service.

Product features

While a developer platform should provide a great user experience, it also needs to offer valuable product features to its customers.

📍 API endpoints

Our API endpoints build the core feature set of the Smartcar platform. Developers have the choice between a large number of API endpoints that include anything from reading telemetry data (e.g. an odometer reading) and sending actions (e.g. locking and unlocking a vehicle) all the way to retrieving batches of data (e.g. location, fuel tank level, and tire pressure) and scheduling recurring data retrievals.

Illustration of a car with three circles connecting to it. Inside the circles there are an illustration of a pin, a pound sign, and an odometer reading.
Our API endpoints build the core feature set of the Smartcar platform.

🚘 Compatible car brands

The Smartcar platform is compatible with every major vehicle brand in the United States and several brands in Europe. Check out our Global Coverage page to see which makes are compatible in which country.

🌎 Available markets

Smartcar is based in the United States but we have recently launched our platform in Canada and Europe. Head to our Global Coverage page for more information, and don’t hesitate to contact us to request access to Smartcar in your country.

💰 Transparent pricing

In order to be truly self-service, a developer platform needs to offer transparent pricing plans that fit all of its customers’ needs. Smartcar provides four different pricing plans, ranging from entirely free and pay-as-you-go to custom pricing.

🎨 Variety of use cases

The best way to validate a product’s strengths is to get it into the hands of customers. Smartcar serves developers in many different industries. Auto insurance providers like Just Auto Insurance use our APIs to charge customers by the mile. Car sharing businesses like Turo and Zemtu offer contactless rentals. Electric utility providers like Krafthem provide cheaper and more sustainable electricity to EV owners. And fleet management software providers like Azuga offer lightweight, hardware-free fleet management solutions. All of these developers use Smartcar to quickly, easily, and efficiently connect with their customers’ cars.

Two Zemtu mobile app screenshots. The first shows a map indicating a car's location and an lock/unlock button. The second shows trip details (time, distance, cost) of a Tesla Model 3.
The car sharing software provider Zemtu uses Smartcar to offer keyless rental solutions.

Vehicle owner experience

Finally, a developer platform for cars is unique in the sense that developers are not the only ones interacting with it. A developer’s customers—i.e. car owners—interact with it too. This is why vehicle owner privacy is a core part of Smartcar’s product.

🔒 Privacy-focused user consent flow

Before making an API request to a car, developers need to collect consent from the vehicle owner. Smartcar’s proprietary user consent flow, Smartcar Connect, makes this process fast and seamless. In the developer’s app, the vehicle owner clicks “Connect your car.” They then log in with their connected services account and review the permissions that the app developer is requesting access to (e.g. read odometer, read location, and lock/unlock vehicle doors). The whole process takes just 30 seconds and gives the car owner full transparency and control.

GIF of Krathem app prompting the user to connect their car, pop-up window allowing the user to log in and review permissions, and Krafthem app showing charging schedule for the user's Tesla Model 3.
Before making an API request to a car, developers need to collect consent from the vehicle owner.

A great developer platform for cars needs to be developer-centric, have strong product features, and provide a seamless experience to vehicle owners. Smartcar meets all three of these criteria, making it the best developer platform for cars.

Book a time to chat with our team to learn more.

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