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Zubie explains if OBD-II devices can find a permanent niche in the connected car industry

As telematics and connectivity gets cheaper and scalable, they are likely to find their way in most of the modern cars, let alone the pricey sedans and SUVs. Every car that is rolling off the assembly line will have feature-rich capabilities of infotainment, remote diagnostics, broadband connectivity fitted at the factory.

But what about those hundreds of millions of cars on road that have no connectivity whatsoever; still their drivers’ demand for connected features is no less than a new vehicle buyer of today. What is worth noticing is that there are far less connected cars than the “unconnected” cars and even if the market for OEM-fitted telematics display a strong growth; the situation will remain the same in years to come.

Pragnesh Shah_Zubie_OBD-II

Telematics Wire recently got a chance to interact with Pragnesh Shah, Chief Operating Officer of South Carolina-based connected car startup Zubie’s to discuss the importance of connected car aftermarket and how this is giving rise to an industry worth a billion dollars.

How do you see the connected car aftermarket shaping up in years to come as compared to the OEM-fitted telematics systems?

We see the after-market segment which is currently the fastest growing segment of connected car solutions continuing, in U.S. and also importantly in international markets around the globe. The power of Zubie’s platform and data analytics is extensible across both after-market and OEM solutions. We are in deep discussions with OEMs who see a complementary fit of their capabilities coupled with those of Zubie.

According to sources most of the cars running on roads do not have an embedded telematics system. In that scenario, do you think the ‘aftermarket’ telematics devices can serve as an interim solution?

The after-market is fast-growing currently, and we see it well beyond an interim solution.   The after market solution is cost effective, easy to use, and powerful. Further, most households with multiple vehicles rarely have the same OEM makes/models in their garage – and the after-market solution Zubie provides makes it easy and seamless for them to manage across multiple different cars types.

Experts have raised privacy concerns with the OBD-II dongles. Do you think it has deterred customers to use such devices to some extent? What is Zubie’s take on privacy?

Our business model is based on providing tremendous value to our customers — to reduce their anxiety of cost of ownership of their vehicles as well as the safety and well being of their drivers. The value we create for them is a direct result of data we are collecting and analyzing on their behalf. Data privacy is of paramount importance to our business. We go to great lengths to protect our users individual information and we never share that data without their specific consent.

Recently, various big players (Verizon, Delphi, Voxx Electronics) have entered into the aftermarket side of business. Do you find it challenging and an indication that more such players are imminent in this market?

Our customers are finding the Zubie solution beneficial to them, and our growth continues. The connected-car industry opportunity is very large – domestic and international – and it is also significantly under-penetrated. We believe a market with choices for the customer is a very healthy sign of the category taking shape.

Please tell us how the Zubie OBD-II and smartphone app helps various stakeholders in the connected car value chain.

Our platform is easily leveraged across many vertical industries and is in use today by top-tier companies in those verticals.

  • A motor insurance carrier — Zubie provides a rich, real-time set of vehicle and driver data via “always on” connectivity through our cellular enabled device. This powers UBI programs for the carrier and their customers.
  • A fleet operator – our typical fleet customers derive great value from vehicle tracking through the web portal, and robust reports on how their drivers are operating their vehicles (e.g. speeding, braking, idling, fuel costs, etc).
  • An automotive dealer – Zubie enabled cars and the integration of Zubie’e auto dealer platform with the dealers CRM systems delivers real-time alerts and actions to their customers. This bolsters loyalty and trust of the car owner to their local dealer, and increases service visits and revenue back to that dealership.
  • An individual driver — we provide valuable car locations, alerts, trip reports, fuel usage, driver reports & diagnostics, and targeted Zubie Perks offers to users. Typical segments are parents of teen drivers and budget-conscious vehicle owners. The core value proposition to them is to make driving safer and less expensive.

Zubie has recently ventured into the Brazilian market. Does it have any plans to expand its business in other emerging markets like MENA, ANZ, South Asia etc?

Our platform is very scalable and our deployments in Germany and initiatives in Brazil are testament to this capability. We are in active phases of other international markets and look forward to telling you more about those in the future.

How do you think we can promote awareness about the benefits of connected car in an emerging market?

This is interesting, because in many ways emerging markets more readily see the benefits of connected car solutions than in more mature markets. Meaning, in some emerging markets personal safety and vehicle theft are major concerns on a daily basis. Services like Zubie’s address their needs directly and effectively.

How do you think start-ups are disrupting the connected car value chain with their innovations?

Start-ups are providing new capabilities -especially around rich mobile experiences and powerful data & analytics — that can be applied to numerous market segments from consumers, to small businesses, to large enterprises. Further, we are continuing to see the aftermarket segment as the fastest growing segment within the connected car category. Innovations in the aftermarket arena can be used by owners of older vehicles going back to models of mid-1990’s, and not just some luxury or new cars coming from the factories. Lastly, start-ups are driving ecosystem innovations at break-neck speed utilizing connected car platform capabilities of open APIs, IFTTT, and integration across other connected life solutions, notably connected car intersecting with connected home solutions.

Stay Tuned for more!

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