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Nov 17 2014

Time_is_Money_so_Outsource_Vehicle_DataIn this day in age, there's so much work to get done with such a small window of opportunity to do it in. Many of us have our time spread thin between work, family and social lives; so after a long days work, having to take more work home is less than ideal! This is where utilizing a 3rd party solution(s) becomes a necessity for many businesses. 

The saying "time is money" applies to most all professions, however, maybe none more so than professionals in the automotive industry. Regardless of which segment you work in (auto sales, marketing, insurance, software development, logistics, etc.) there will be a number of items on your team's agenda that cannot be contracted to a 3rd party. Luckily, with vehicle data solutions readily available from trusted data providers, you are not stuck having to create a solution in-house.  In fact, with the availability of delivered data, web services and hosted software solutions, integrating these products has never been easier.     

Having complete and accurate vehicle data is a foundational piece that most segments of the automotive industry depend on.  However, for most companies it's far too time consuming and tedious to consider creating this data solution from scratch in-house. With currently over 40 vehicle manufactures in the US averaging about 15 models each (with multiple trim options), developing and maintaining a complete and accurate vehicle database is a wheel you don't want to reinvent.

Why is developing and maintaining a vehicle database so time consuming and costly?

  1. Quantity of Vehicles: As mentioned above, there are currently over 40 auto manufactures in the US offering multiple vehicle models and trim packages.That's a lot of vehicles to research in addition to your company's daily operations.

  2. Varying Models: Vehicle model specs change on a yearly basis, new models are created, old models are dissolved. Models often have multiple engines, drivetrains and transmissions available. Developing and maintaining an accurate database is an ongoing process that involves constant updates and review.

  3. Description Inconsistency: OEMs describe their vehicle options and technology differently from each other. A data provider can normalize and organize these descriptions in a much more user-friendly format.

  4. OEM Marketing Compliance: Premium data providers can offer OEM marketing compliant vehicle and option descriptions that allow for compliant data display on OEM branded websites. Sourcing OEM compliant vehicle data can be difficult, requiring relationships with all OEMs, and generally is not the best use of your time if your company is not solely a data provider. 

  5. Need for Accuracy: Vehicle data has to be accurate to power vehicle advertising, insurance quotes, vehicle shipping logistics, as well as parts and service sales. To assure this accuracy, data providers must be thorough when building out data and have to invest much of their time in quality control. 

  6. Multi-source Research: Complete vehicle data often requires research and comparison of multiple OEM documents and sources. This level of effort makes sense when you're creating a data product that will be licensed to hundreds of customers, but is hard to justify when collecting the data strictly for internal use.

  7. Timeliness: Vehicles are released throughout the year, often in large chunks, and the vehicle data requires frequent - sometimes weekly - updates. Not all companies have access to vehicle data as early as they may need it.  

As you can see, there's more work that goes into developing and maintaining vehicle data than many companies have time for. While most businesses will have to contribute some development effort on their end, almost all successful businesses in the automotive space utilize a commercially available vehicle data solution as the "data foundation" they've built their products and services upon. 

What should you look for in a data provider:

  1. Any vehicle data provider you consider should be able to offer OEM compliant data supplied directly from the manufacturers.

  2. The data provider should be able to support identification of vehicles by either VIN or YMMT. In the event that you don't have a VIN handy, it's always nice to have the option of searching vehicles by their Year, Make, Model, and Trim.

  3. The right data provider should be able to offer you deliverable data, web services, or a combination of the two depending on what best fits your business' needs. 

  4. The best data solution will provide timely releases of vehicle data and subsequent updates for each make and model covered. In some cases this data can be available before the vehicle is even released. 

  5. Great customer service and technical support is a essential. Data licensing tends to be a long term relationship, so it's important to choose a partner and not just a vendor. 

Make sure the solution you choose covers all of the above as a minimum. While getting quality data may not be cheap, choosing a poor or limited data provider will cost you much more in the long run (ex. development & integration costs or paying for two licenses).

Additional Integration

In some segments of the automotive industry there are a handful more important items that can be provided by a reputable data company. Some of these include the acquisition of inventory data feeds, studio stills, safety ratings, EPA and MPG ratings, and the list goes on. Anywhere you can save time and money without sacrificing quality is worth considering.

Additionally, your timeline and your personals core competency may make considering hosted data software and advanced api use advantageous. In these scenarios, the expertise and intimate knowledge of automotive data providers are needed. Many data providers may also offer custom development and consulting to support your efforts.


  • Outsourcing your vehicle data needs to data experts will save your business a ton of time and free your employees to channel their energy into your product(s) and customers.

  • It's important to make sure the data provider you choose has built an OEM marketing compliant database, which aligns with the vehicle model year releases in a timely manner.

  • Choosing a comprehensive data solution that delivers consistently accurate data in a normalized format can give your business an advantage over its competitors.

  • Your data provider should accommodate your business and offer flexibility in its solutions to best match your data needs.   

What are your thoughts about leaving your company's vehicle data needs to data experts? Please share with us in the comments section below!


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