App-based global positioning systems -- or GPS -- are gaining traction among tech-savvy consumers who crave connectivity with their vehicles.
These aftermarket products track vehicle location and alert owners when their vehicle needs routine maintenance, is driven beyond preset virtual geo-fence boundaries and exceeds certain speeds.
That makes GPS technology attractive to consumers who fear their vehicles will be stolen, want to tether teenage drivers and curtail joy-riding valets.
For dealers, plug-in GPS technology offers multiple possibilities. When dealers buy and install the GPS on their new and used vehicles, they can use the devices for vehicle inventory and lot management. Dealerships recoup their investment when finance and insurance managers sell the technology to consumers.
The devices help with service retention, too. Rather than sending a notice to a customer that it has been six months since their last oil change, a dealership can tell the customer exactly how many miles the vehicle has been driven, making a stronger case that the oil needs changing.
For years, GPS add-ons were installed by buy-here, pay-here used-car dealerships, often with so-called kill switches, so that lenders financing consumers with poor credit scores could track and potentially repossess the vehicle. That practice has come under scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission to gauge whether the devices violate consumer privacy or lead to harassment from the banks.