Manheim is already far along in placing temporary tracking devices inside cars being processed at its auction locations to provide real-time location data on the vehicles while they’re on the property.
That’s a big time-saver compared with the previous generation of technology, which only provides last-known whereabouts, and requires physically scanning the vehicle’s VIN tag, to update the system – a time-consuming task and a huge inconvenience when it snows or rains.
“I’ve spent many hours over the years looking for cars,” says Patrick Brennan, Manheim’s senior vice president-Marketplace (pictured, below left). “Cars are constantly on the move, from the time they get checked in.”
That means until recently, location data on a given vehicle only indicated where the vehicle was the last time someone physically scanned the VIN. If it hadn’t been moved, great – but if it had been moved, which was pretty likely, the search was on, he explains in a phone interview.
Manheim’s LotVision uses a GPS device plugged into the vehicle’s onboard diagnostics port, known as the OBD-II port. A vehicle without that port, or certain vehicles built before 1996, use a device hung around the rearview mirror, steering wheel or other spot.
LotVision already employs more than 400,000 tracking devices at 49 Manheim sites and will be operating at an additional 19 locations by Sept. 30, the company says.
In addition to location data, Manheim has a pilot program under way at its auction locations in Atlanta and Dallas to add another upgrade to the locator system, which would remotely provide clients with real-time telematics data directly from the vehicle’s OBD-II port.
Similar to location data, which required scanning the VIN, the previous technology provides telematics data that’s only as recent as the last time someone physically plugged into the OBD-II port and extracted the data.
Vehicle data includes diagnostic trouble codes and battery health information. The pilot is expected to run through early September, with this added information available to clients across the country before year-end.
“The more up to date the data is, the more confidence both the owner and the potential buyer have in the bidding on that car,” Brennan says. “We want to provide the most up-to-date information possible.”