Thefts of dealership demonstrator vehicles continue to be a major problem for many auto dealers.
From lone test drives where the customer doesn’t return, to incidents where running vehicles are blatantly driven out of the dealership – these types of thefts continue to be reported. The conventional security measures against vehicle theft, like securing the driver’s licence details, are clearly not enough to deter those who are intent on this type of robbery.
One of the more effective ways of protecting against theft and other unauthorised usage involves fitting easily transferrable vehicle tracking devices to demonstrators and customer loan cars.
These devices simply plug into the OBDII port in any current passenger or light commercial vehicle. They are quickly and easily transferred from vehicle to vehicle. More covert installations (such as in the engine compartment) are also available; however these require some simple wiring connections to work. Real time tracking then shows the position of the vehicle on web portals and smartphone apps.
These devices can also be programmed with ‘geofence alerts’ which provide immediate signals, if for example, a company vehicle is driven off the dealership premises outside working hours. Devices can also be programmed to provide other valuable non-safety related alerts, such as low battery warnings on showroom and yard vehicles.
Some of the more advanced tracking systems will also provide driver behaviour information, such as harsh braking and excessive acceleration. These provide valuable insight into driver abuse of vehicles, often leading to accidents or excessive maintenance costs. Feedback on driver behaviour can be supplemented by installation of DVR units (or ‘dash cams’), which can also verify, for example, who was at fault should a customer or employee have an accident in your vehicle.
The more sophisticated DVR units are now available with GPS mapping and sound, meaning individual trips can be replayed in great detail if required. Fitted to demonstrators, they can also make on-selling to vehicle purchasers an additional profit opportunity.
An issue causing concern with some Dealers regarding these types of protection and monitoring devices is the negative perception from employees and customers about privacy. Usually, the employees and customers with the most concern are also the ones most likely to have their bad driving behaviour exposed.
In almost all cases, it only takes one case of somebody being cleared from blame or liability thanks to monitoring data to bring opinion around in favour of protecting both the vehicle and driver.
So, as a Dealer, what measures do you have in place to protect your vehicles against theft, accident and driver abuse?