Updated! GPS tracking has been around for over a decade with only middling success, but the service may have finally found its market– as an add-on feature for remote start from your phone.
Over 50 percent of Compustar’s DroneMobile remote-start-from-a-phone buyers have purchased a GPS tracking plan, so they may view the location of the car or track a teen from a phone.
“So we’re shocked,” said CompuStar Director of Sales & Marketing Jason Kaminski. “We’re pleasantly surprised by how many people are upgrading to the tracking plan.”
Directed offers a version of its SmartStart remote start-from-a-phone with GPS tracking. It costs an extra $100 for the hardware ($399 versus $299) and about an extra $10 a year in service fees. The company said the uptake by consumers for GPS tracking “has exceeded our expectations,” according to VP Product Planning James Turner.
For DroneMobile, GPS tracking adds about $100 a year in service fees but there’s no extra charge in hardware.
Buyers of the tracking plan include parents of teens, small businesses who want to keep track of vehicles and customers who simply want all the bells and whistles, said Kaminski.
“We learned 4-5 years ago that consumers are not interested in GPS tracking by itself, so we added remote start and security features to it and it instantly became a hit,” said President Mike Northup.
The company’s C3, the first remote start from a phone system, launched in 2008 with an all in one package of GPS, remote start and security. Northup estimates 90 percent of the customers use the GPS tracking feature. (The usage fee for the full remote start/GPS/security package is $99 per year for unlimited use).
Audiovox just began offering a GPS tracking option for its Car Link remote start-from-a-phone module last month. Although it’s too soon to report on its success, Audiovox Electronics President Tom Malone said, ” If the consumer can get the added value of the location of the vehicle, they think it’s a cool feature and its not a big cost adder, so why not have it.”
With GPS tracking, users see a real time location of the car on their smartphone. On some products, they get a full status update on the car (are doors locked, what’s the battery voltage and temperature of the cabin?). GPS tracking also provides teen tracking features that alert you if your teen travels out of a proscribed area or exceeds a preset speed.
Car Toys, Seattle, WA., a 50+ store chain, said of GPS tracking, “We’re seeing good traction now – this is a growth area of the business,” according to Jim Warren, SVP Merchanding. He added, “I wouldn’t say it’s suddenly catching on. We are, though, seeing steady growth and reliable sales in the category.”