Expanding the UBI footprint Weekly Brief—4.22.2013

In this week’s Brief: Allstate, Telefónica Germany, TomTom, Hyundai, Agero, Ford, Audi, BMW, and Daimler

Insurance telematics took another step into the mainstream this week when Allstate expanded its usage-based insurance program DriveWise from 10 states to 16. The DriveWise territory now includes Missouri, Indiana, Minnesota, Maryland, Utah, and Washington.

Usage-based insurance pundits have anticipated a tipping point from pilot phase to nationwide rollouts for many insurance telematics programs in 2013, and Allstate’s announcement seems to support that. The company says the majority of its marketplace will have DriveWise by the end of 2013.

Allstate also released a new DriveWise smartphone app that keeps customers informed about their driving performance on a trip-by-trip basis. The app is available for free download through iTunes or Google Play.

“This provides our customers a method to quickly identify ways to improve their driving and, at the same time, be rewarded for safe driving habits,” says Ed Biemer, Allstate’s senior product vice president.

Telefónica Germany rolled out a new insurance telematics solution for German insurers looking to embrace the usage-based insurance model. Telefonica’s insurance telematics platform encrypts driver information and processes it separately from the insurance provider’s systems, then aggregates values in the form of a score that insurers can use to dictate premiums.

The platform includes a smartphone app and web portal that lets drivers see their month-by-month performance and how their premiums have changed accordingly. Several auto insurers already use the platform in Spain.

Outside of the insurance telematics arena, TomTom had a busy week, launching several new GPS watches and a new navigation engine, NavKit. The watches are outside the telematics purview, but the NavKit could be an important automotive development, as it will power all future TomTom navigation products and will be available for licensing to automotive and enterprise customers.

TomTom says the NavKit allows for easy customization and integration and comes with enhanced features like route planning, real-time guidance, free text search, and 2D map browsing.

Hyundai rolled out Hyundai Assurance Car Care, a new mobile app that serves as a virtual library for maintenance guides, warranty information, bluetooth info, how-to videos, and other car care topics for Hyundai owners.

The app also synchs with Hyundai’s telematics platform, Blue Link, to provide additional connectivity for drivers with Blue Link-activated cars. Agero designed the app, which will apply for all Hyundai vehicles starting with the 2011 model year.

Ford revealed that its most popular driver assistance system technology in 2012 was the rear view camera, which increases rear visibility to help drivers park and see objects behind their back bumper. ADAS technologies often get lumped together, so it’s interesting to see an OEM parse individual popularity.

The second best-selling driver aid was Active Park Assist, which helps drivers parallel park at the touch of a button and without touching the steering wheel. Ford has already introduced cameras across the majority of its car brands.

Audi made an addition to its Audi Connect telematics platform with “Refueling Stop,” which reveals fuel prices for surrounding gas stations at the push of a button. The application allows the driver to sort the overview list by price or distance and then set the desired gas station as a navigation destination with an additional tap of the in-dash screen.

The service is specifically for Audi’s A3 family and will be a standard part of Audi Connect come May.

In January BMW initiated a pilot of its new all electric vehicle, the BMW ActiveE, for which 700 drivers are motoring the EVs around the U.S. This week the company launched a new digital tool that helps those 700 drivers gain insight into the hard data of their vehicle’s performance, such as reduction of carbon footprint, average remaining charge at the end of the day, and average number of charges per day.

The tool is likely to become a standard feature of the ActiveE offering once the pilot concludes, as it addresses range anxiety and sheds valuable light on savings and impact.

(BMW also released a second tool called “the  Electronaut Effect,” which provides all current and potential BMW customers interested in the ActiveE with a snapshot of aggregated data from the ActiveE pilot to date.)

Daimler outlined its vision for the future of mobility and how cars will interact with people and cities in the years to come. Daimler broke its vision down into three main segments.

First, cars will become more philanthropic, not only collecting data but giving data and input to other vehicles, pedestrians, and city infrastructure to improve efficiency and safety.

Second, cars will become more public and thus more shared with friends, family, and strangers (as autonomous taxis, for example).

Third, cars will become more integrated with architecture— “carchitecture”—so that energy is shared between the two, with EVs getting energy from homes and cars, in turn, serving as the heating system for a building.

“As part of our culture of innovation, we want to provide an impetus for visionary thinking,” says Herbert Kohler, chief environmental officer at Daimler. “Future Talk offers us the opportunity – outside our own four walls – to enter into a dialog with avant-garde thinkers and discuss our ideas.”

The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.

For exclusive business analysis and insight about telematics applications, see Industry Insight: Telematics and Apps

Coming up in 2013: Insurance Telematics Europe 2013 on May 7-8 in London and TU Detroit on June 5-6 in Detroit.

For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports on In-Vehicle Smartphone Integration Report, Human Machine Interface Technologies and Smart Vehicle Technology: The Future of Insurance Telematics.

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