APIs are on the rise in every industry. Maps APIs, payments API, messaging APIs, and social media APIs are changing the way we build products and are opening up unprecedented possibilities for countless industries.
The automotive and mobility landscape is a great example of such an industry. During the past few years, it has completely been reshaped by telematics APIs and other automotive software services. Let us take a look at one part of this industry in particular, and explore how fleet management software has benefitted from the use of APIs for embedded telematics like the Smartcar API.
The age of telematics devices
Up until a few years ago, fleet management software companies depended on aftermarket hardware to retrieve crucial information from vehicles. Whether it was a vehicle’s location, its odometer reading, or vehicle health information such as the tire pressure or engine oil life, fleet management software companies needed to retrofit their customers’ vehicles with GPS or OBD devices, before they could access this information and integrate it into their product.
The rise of telematics APIs
Times have changed and many fleet management software companies now rely on telematics APIs instead of telematics devices. Here’s what’s different about those hardware-free solutions and how fleet management software businesses are taking advantage of them:
Unlike aftermarket hardware, APIs like the Smartar API are standardized and compatible with vehicles across makes and models. Fleet management software companies need to build one single integration, no matter how many different vehicles they serve. APIs also offer developer-friendly documentation and SDKs. This makes integrating an API into fleet management software much faster and easier than integrating with aftermarket hardware.
Retrofitting a whole fleet of cars with telematics devices takes time and effort. In the past, fleet management software companies needed to contract this work out to local installer networks in every region, so that customers didn’t need to install the devices themselves. Smartcar’s customers were able to eliminate this pain point. Onboarding a new vehicle to Smartcar’s software solution takes just seconds from any mobile or web app, saving our customers time and money for more important work.
Unlike telematics devices, API products don’t require any upfront acquisition and shipping cost to be paid for by fleet management software businesses or their customers. When fleet management software companies use APIs for embedded telematics, they are able to offer their product at low initial cost and without long-term financing plans. Our customers have seen shorter sales cycles and an increase in signed contracts after starting to use the Smartcar API.
Even after a fleet is onboarded, API technology bears a low maintenance cost. This has made it possible for our customers to keep their monthly SaaS fees small and retain their customers for longer.
API requests retrieve accurate information directly from vehicles. For example, making a request to read a car’s mileage returns the vehicle’s actual odometer reading, instead of calculating an estimate based on locations and trips. Fleet managers know the difference between well made and poorly designed products. They appreciate it when their fleet management dashboard works flawlessly and doesn’t return inaccurate or erroneous data.
Hardware devices can easily run out of battery, get damaged, accidentally get unplugged, or simply get lost. With telematics APIs, no such worries exist. Once a vehicle is onboarded, fleet owners don’t have to worry about malfunctioning or misplaced hardware. Our customers have told us that their overall user satisfaction has increased since they started using Smartcar, as fleet owners don’t need to deal with broken or misplaced hardware devices anymore.
Even though this rarely happens, drivers or fleet owners might attempt to hide or falsify specific information about their vehicles. With APIs for embedded telematics, such attempts can't happen. Drivers aren’t able to unplug devices or to leave them outside the vehicle. Instead, every API request successfully reaches the car and retrieves accurate and reliable information from the vehicle.
This is how telematics APIs have become the driving force of fleet management software, and how they have benefitted the industry with their versatile, simple, efficient, and reliable architecture.