Imagine a customer arriving at a dealership's service drive with the diagnostic work completed, the faulty part identified and the warranty repair approved before a service writer even greets the driver.
You don't have to imagine it. It's happening.
This spring, General Motors quietly introduced a new feature for its OnStar connected car technology called Proactive Alerts. The program's goal, says Steve Holland, GM's chief technologist for vehicle health management, is to detect and correct a potential vehicle-stopping issue before the check-engine light comes on.
"Let's take the battery," Holland explains. "We collect data every time the car is started and transmit it to the cloud via the car's 4G connection, and we run our proprietary algorithms there.
"Normally what happens is everything looks OK, a "green' condition that we ignore. But occasionally we'll notice problems."
Sometimes, the battery's state of charge could be lower than normal, because the vehicle has been sitting or the lights have been left on. Once the car is driven, the alternator charges the battery. Holland says Proactive Alerts can tell the difference between a discharged battery and a damaged one.
"We have a second stage where we watch very closely what's going on with the battery," he says. "If we make the determination that the battery has a problem and that it is going to fail, we notify the customer by sending a message back to the car. We also provide the same information to the dealer, so that they can be ready when the customer shows up."