The system should help auto mechanics repair and prevent problems more quickly and accurately. However, it could also protect the position of Peugeot’s main dealers, by increasing the investment costs for people who want to service Peugeots. It’s certainly a timely move, coming ahead of the EU’s planned abolition of dealers’ special status.
Peugeot and IBM have teamed up to produce an Internet vehicle diagnostic system.
French carmaker Peugeot has teamed up with IBM to produce an online diagnostics system, which connects a central server to the vehicle’s on-board computer via cables attached to a telephone. The system, called e-diagnostics, then diagnoses what is wrong with the vehicle, then displays step-by-step instructions to repair the problem.
It is the latest evolution of IBM’s teleassistance system, in which technicians were connected to live engineers. The majority of vehicle manufacturers have diagnostic machines, which store much of the information necessary to diagnose vehicle faults, but currently when these cannot solve the problem, technicians need to phone the manufacturer for further assistance.
Peugeot’s system should reduce the time it takes a technician to locate and repair faults, thereby either boosting the profitability of the dealership’s aftersales department, or allowing it to pass on the cost savings to the consumer. The system also lends itself to further development involving telematics, giving a true remote system. Sports carmaker McLaren pioneered remote diagnostics on its F1 road car, enabling changes to be made to the vehicle via satellite.
However, making the system service Peugeot’s range effectively will require heavy investment in the dealership. This is likely to favor the manufacturer’s own dealer network, who will be more likely to have the capital to acquire the new technology. Under the current legislation of Block Exemption, Peugeot is also allowed to supply the technology only to its own dealers, increasing the competitive advantage they already hold over the repair of new or nearly new vehicles.
This option is likely to be removed following the EU Competition Commission’s impending review of the new car market. But even then, the system’s expense will still be a considerable barrier to entry to would-be rival dealers.