The 3 Reasons Why Every Fleet Manager Should Experiment With The Auto API

May 7, 2020
We have some interesting updates to share regarding the Auto API which could directly impact how developers of fleet management and logbook applications plan their technical roadmaps.

Connect 1000 new vehicles without leaving your desk

Imagine getting a 1000-car fleet online and connected to fleet management software in a matter of hours without the need for hardware, and without worrying about the costs or inconveniences that come hand-in-hand with the logistics of dongle installation, delivery, storage and replacement. So far, fleet tracking without hardware has been nearly impossible or heavily compromised. Despite the present very obvious shortcomings, experimenting with an API-based approach should already be at the top of every CTO’s agenda.

Mainly, the coverage and refresh rates have been the predominant bottlenecks for all car data platforms when looking to get more companies excited about the API approach, which is why in this article we’ll be covering the improvements that have been made primarily to the refresh rate and why, in our view, an API integration is fast becoming an appealing choice for fleet managers.

Reason 1: The basic data points availability

The Mileage and Vehicle Location data points required for even the most basic applications are available via Auto API and are used for calculating distance travelled, and for keeping track of the exact location of each vehicle.

Coverage as of May 2020

Reason 2: The hidden cost of hardware lies in its lack of scalability

First, a quick thought experiment. Although OBD-II dongles offer cross-brand coverage and a great data refresh rate at an initial price that, at first glance, seems reasonable, managing them is a pain. The problems start already during initial installation and setup.

Image: BMW i3 being connected to an OBD-II dongle

We estimate that it would take about 30 minutes to install a new OBD-II dongle into a single car, if you include the first connection test. That number may be conservative. Getting a thousand cars connected this way will take five hundred hours. Given a normal working month, it would take one person a full three months to equip the whole fleet. It would only be after this lengthy set up period that all one thousand cars would be connected.

Alternatively, our sample apps and vehicle emulators in the platform show the user experience for linking a single vehicle, but BMW has developed a streamlined consent flow especially for fleet owners.

In order to connect a large number of vehicles, the fleet owner submits a list of the Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) of all the BMW vehicles he or she wishes to connect
The fleet owner then completes an agreement with High Mobility and BMW, consenting to share data from each of the vehicles in question.High Mobility then provides a list of Authorisation Codes that correspond to the newly linked vehicles
The final step for the fleet owner is to exchange the relevant Authorisation Code for an Access Token using the API

That’s all it takes to connect a fleet of BMW’s; it takes the same amount of time, no matter if there are 100, 1000, or 100.000 vehicles.

Reason 3: Improvements to refresh rate are here

Using’s Auto API, fleet management companies can track mileage and location on demand. While the Auto API is already powerful the data refresh rate has been less ideal for some use cases. It is influenced by our work with the manufacturers and unfortunately cannot be rushed.

Below is an overview of the current state of the Mileage and Location data points refresh rate:

Refresh rate as of April 2020

As you may notice, the data refresh rate is definitely not ideal yet. The data updates at only the start and end of a trip have been a prohibiting factor for many fleet companies.
However, coming shortly to platform are continual mid-trip updates!

Refresh rate as of May 2020

All eligible BMW models can reliably send data at what might be considered the beginning and end of a trip. An update is sent when a driver unlocks and opens the driver’s door, and another occurs when the driver leaves the car and locks the doors. Now, the newest BMW models can also send data during the trip, every 2 minutes or 3 kilometres, whichever comes first.

This removes yet another roadblock from a much more elegant way to connect cars. Hopefully these updates will bring a car API integration to more companies' technical roadmaps very soon. Understandably, the coverage and refresh rates will remain the potential bottlenecks for all car data platforms for some time but the time to plan for the future is now.

And of course after that one-time integration of the Auto API, your application will be able to access data not only from the carmakers we currently support, but also from any carmaker we add in the future as more manufacturers open their car data.

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