The Mobile Access Blog

The Mobile Access Blog
Woman opening car door

Vehicle Access: OEM or Retrofit Solution?

The connected car is currently one of the hot topics in the automotive industry. Increased data transfer capabilities open up limitless potential for new products and services. While OEMs¹ are developing highly sophisticated proprietary technologies, other players are coming in with retrofit solutionsfor example in the field of vehicle access. Car access retrofit means the modernisation and completion of access to existing cars. We would like to show you three different technologies for car access solutions:

1. Proprietary Access Technology

First some clarification on what this means. Proprietary technology is any combination of processes or systems of interrelated connections that are the property of a company or individual. Here’s a simple example: The technology used by Apple in their mobile products is considered to be closed. Only Apple devices run the iOS operating system and you can only buy software for iOS-based devices through the Apple App Store.

When speaking about proprietary access technology in the context of car access, we mean that hardware and software are installed in the car and all processes are integrated into the hardware. All the major OEMs have proven to be among the most innovative operators in the car sharing game. Such proprietary systems are often complex and high-cost solutions, which deters many buyers. But they tend to provide greater functionality, like GPS tracking, fuel consumption tracking or real-time vehicle tracking. It’s ideal for OEM sharing services, like for example ShareNow operated by the BMW Group and Daimler

2. Retrofit Access Solutions Connecting to CAN Bus

Most of the digital key management systems for cars require a setup in terms of CAN² integration or disassembly of car keys. The CAN bus was developed by Bosch Electronics for the automotive and aerospace industries. All electronic control units (ECU) are connected via the CAN bus. These solutions provide data through wired or Bluetooth connections. In an automotive CAN bus system, ECUs can be the engine control unit, airbags or the access control system for instance. Once integrated, the telematics provide real-time vehicle data and process commands. That’s why it’s even possible to find out if the car is locked or not. 

OBD³ dongles and control devices have strong potential to disrupt the current OEM-centric connectivity ecosystem in the automotive industry. Telematics companies offer such hardware products for GPS tracking. With an open access technology like Tapkey, it’s even possible to expand their functionality and add smartphone-based access to them as well. Sounds great, right?

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3. Retrofit Access Technology Using a Key Box

The most inexpensive solution for distributed, keyless car access is the car sharing box by WITTE Digital. The unlock mechanism is based on Tapkey’s access technology, which was integrated using the open API and Mobile SDK. The physical car key is stored in the box in the vehicle and it’s completely non-invasive with all vehicles available even during installation.

Compared to the proprietary access technology, functionality may be restrictedbut the solution is easy to use and can be installed in less than three minutes. There is no mechanic needed, which means that there are no additional costs for installation. This comes with a high degree of flexibility and helps maintain workflows and processes. If you want to get more details and data about your fleet, you can collect telematics data with an additional dongle as well.

 

Graphic OEM vs. Retrofit Car Access Solutions

The Choice Is Yours

Both proprietary access technology and retrofit access solutions have their strengths and weaknesses, Now that you know the difference, you need to decide which one is best for you. On the one hand, retrofit access solutions provide greater flexibility. On the other hand, proprietary access technology involves higher costs, but offers all relevant data for operations.

Abbreviations:
¹ OEM = Original Equipment Manufacturer
² CAN = Controller Area Network system
³ OBD = On-board diagnostics