Pedal to the MetalWith the proliferation of smartphones and their ability to double up as mini computing devices, Mahindra Reva found just the perfect device that could become the bridge between the customer and the car. "Today almost everyone has a phone that supports apps and it is one object people are most likely to always carry with them wherever they are. So, a smartphone app was our best bet," says Gopal.
Mahindra Reva teamed up with a Bangalore-based company that specializes in embedded devices to develop the telematics unit within cars. The company roped in another solution provider to create the mobile application. Apart from this, the company also developed a set of applications with Mahindra Telematics to help it monitor the cars through servers located at the Mahindra's datacenter and a webpage user interface for its customers.
When cars are shipped from the Mahindra Reva factory, they are registered with the company's system. Once a customer buys a car from one of the company's dealers, the dealer logs into a webpage, feeds in the car and customer details—like mobile number—and creates an account for the customer. The customer, then, needs to log in using a username and password, after which he is provided with a link to download the app for his Android, Blackberry or iOS phones.
The car relays information to the company's telematics servers via a Telematics Gateway Unit in the car and a M2M mobile carrier platform. The Telematics Servers host Web-based applications that enable the customer care team to monitor cars. The servers also store all critical information about the cars right from the time of its shipping to the customer which is being used for developing analytics based prognostics applications. Customers can access information about their cars via a mobile app or the dedicated customer Web page.
The solution provides customers with a host of features on their mobile app. For example, if one leaves a car plugged-in but forgets to switch on the main, or the car stops charging due to voltage or power issues, it waits for a few seconds and sends an SMS to the customer on his mobile informing him about the problem. At any given point of time, customers can check how much charge they have in the car via the app."The app can also tell customers how much distance he can cover based on how much charge the car has. This will help customers plan their day and trips in advance and avoid being stranded on the road," says Gopal.
Going the Distance
Because they were creating a first in the Indian automotive industry, Gopal and his team were not satisfied with just the bare minimum. They have integrated Google maps with the smartphone app. "Let's say you are going from point A to B and B to C. With the help of Google maps, the app can tell you how much charge you will need to cover the distance and help locate charging points," says Gopal. The company has installed close to 300 charging stations across various cities in India and mapped them on Google Maps.
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