The vast majority of drivers (95%) would like a device which tracks and helps recover their car if it is stolen, according to an AA-Populus driver poll of more than 17,000*.
Additionally, more than a third (38%) want a feature that helps them remember where they parked.
It comes as several drivers report that they have been reunited with their lost and stolen cars due to new connected car technology from the AA.
The small connected car device plugs in below the steering wheel to grant drivers’ top three wishes, identified as:
- I will never lose my car (95%)
- I won’t break down (90%)
- I can get immediate help and advice if I’m in an accident (80%)
Lost and found
In a recent example, the technology was used to find a car lost in a large car park after the owner forgot where they had parked. And in another case, it tracked a stolen car within minutes of it being taken from the owner’s drive, by using the app and GPS locator.
Prevention is better than cure
The technology also monitors vehicle health such as battery condition, electrics, ignition, fuel systems and more. A push notification alerts the user to potential problems and the AA then contacts the member with advice or to arrange an appointment to fix it, helping drivers to avoid the hassle, stress and potential hazards of a breakdown.
The technology could potentially stop one million breakdowns every year.
In August, it identified the early stages of a faulty ignition coil, allowing the AA to send out a patrol to fix the problem before it resulted in a breakdown. And it detected a fault code relating to a car’s diesel particulate filter, enabling the AA to make a proactive call to the owner and prevent a breakdown.
There has even been an instance of Car Genie discovering that a vehicle had its engine check light bulb removed from the dashboard, meaning the owner would have continued driving unaware of any problems with the engine. The device flagged this up, preventing a dangerous situation and potentially costly future repairs.
I can get help in an accident
In the case of a collision, the system detects the impact and triggers a call from the AA to offer help, granting the third wish – ‘I can get immediate help and advice if I’m in an accident’.
It has even been used to disprove a false claim that a driver was involved in an accident, by proving that the vehicle was nowhere near the accident location on the date in question.
More than half (53%) of drivers said they want feedback on how they are driving, including whether and where they have exceeded the speed limit. A similar number (54%) say they would like to be able to see a visual track of every trip, including mileage and journey time.
Members have reported using Car Genie to better their own driving by beating bad habits such as speeding, thereby improving fuel efficiency; prove when they started and finished work; and even settle arguments over who the best driver is amongst their peers.
The small self-install device plugs into the car’s on-board diagnostics (OBDII) socket and presents real-time information via a smartphone app, to help drivers understand what is going on under the bonnet and calculate an eco-score based on factors such as speed, acceleration, braking and cornering.
Alan Ferguson, head of AA connected car technology, said: “Around a third of breakdowns we go to could have been stopped if the problem was spotted earlier – that’s a million preventable breakdowns every year.
“Anything can happen and not everyone can know the warning signs, so we’ve developed Car Genie to give our members the assurance that the AA is with them wherever they go.
“We’ve had all sorts of feedback about how our connected technology is helping members with their everyday driving. Whether it’s keeping an eye on your pride and joy while you’re away, being sure that any problems have been fully repaired by the garage, providing evidence of your professional mileage, remembering where you parked or even proving who is the best driver, it’s fascinating to hear about the many different ways Car Genie is being used.”
Some feedback on the device:
- ‘Me and my son settled an argument over the best driver in the house.’
- ‘I could tell my employer when I’d started and finished work, and I could prove it.’
- ‘Car Genie is brilliant for checking mileage – it’s something which I use all the time. A really useful tool, and it’s definitely helped me save time and effort.’
- ‘I used to do 42 mpg; now it’s closer to 52 mpg.’
- ‘I used to hate driving. But I genuinely do enjoy it now – I’m at one with my car, and as I can see the result of my journeys, I take more of an interest.’