The Silicon Review
Most news outlets and blogs today that focus on the Automotive industry are locked onto R&D and future technologies, such as self-driving cars, batteries, onboard tech, and the glamorous side of the automotive business. Automotives Cloud is the data backbone of this automotive industry, storing technical data that are relevant for vehicle sales and dealerships. They focus on car sales, vehicle technical data, and meta-data.
The Automotive industry can easily use Automotives Cloud’s universal API to access vehicle data around the globe. Its services reach 45 countries and currently expanding soon in 7 more countries in 2022. Automotives Cloud can be considered as the cross-road of vehicle data in many regions. How does this work? Consider this example – a German dealership importing an American muscle car into Germany can simply type in the US number plate and retrieve the vehicle data to fill in the EU tax and import duties while preparing the vehicle information for the future client acquiring this new import. Additionally, the German dealership can also get the validated vehicle VIN number and exact specifications to ensure the correct vehicle is shipped prior to any payment.
For the last four years, Automotives Cloud has been providing a full range of big data services in the Automotive industry: consulting, solution implementation, support, and managed analytics, to allow companies to get valuable insights out of their big data, access its large repository of vehicle registration worldwide, as well as build reliable interconnected systems.
We recently interviewed Michel Sedaghat, the CEO of Automotives Cloud. He talked to us about the small challenges that inspired the company to innovate and deliver quality to its users. Read on for the excerpts from the interview.
Q. Could you tell us about your journey so far? Have there been any setbacks?
We started as a small startup, focused on a DMS platform (Dealership Management System) for the French market. Despite a lot of competition in this industry, we managed to get good business traction by being very innovative and having a complete Software-as-a-Service tailor-made for the used-vehicle market. We quickly captured more than a thousand clients (dealerships) across all regions of France. In 2018, after many software development lifecycles, we still had several business gaps in our platform that needed to be addressed. One of the business gaps was vehicle data from EU countries. At first, we purchased the French government vehicle dataset and used it to streamline our DMS workflows. Then, we quickly realized that we needed the German, Italian, Spanish, and American vehicle data too. This is when we realized that with our original setup, there was gap – in terms of vehicle data between different countries and continents. To address this, we decided to build an API for internal use, capable of delivering vehicle data from all EU countries, helping our users to import vehicles easily and to continue to streamline our SaaS platform.
Our users imported vehicles from Spain as vehicles were cheaper to buy there. From Germany because they had way more options and equipment than the versions sold in France. Imported vehicles from Italy as this is the best place to buy exotic cars. But how does all this translate into a dealership interface? The user simply wants to select the country and type-in the vehicle registration number. Our platform detects the vehicle’s technical details such as VIN number, transmission, energy, status, and much more. That’s how a challenge became a business asset for Automotives Cloud. Overtime, we perfected our API, divided regions into East and West due to price differences and added three main data levels to enrich our massive databases.
Q. Tell us about the technology that powers your solutions.
Technically, our platform is very simple. We tend to keep our services, processes, and pricing
as simple as possible. Our datacenters are located in EU and the U.S., which stores different types of data due to various regulations. Overall, our datacenter and infrastructure are designed with three objectives in mind: Data security, Data enrichment, and Data distribution.
Q. Could you tell us about your Vehicle Registration API? How many countries is this API available in?
The global vehicle API is currently connected to 42 countries. The number of countries connected to our platform increases the volume of our dataset but it does not necessarily improve the quality of the vehicle data within our API.
We have organized our databases into 3 different levels. The first level is basic vehicle data information such as make, model, version, transmission, energy, color, and more. This level of data is very convenient and it comes at a low cost to many companies worldwide that are connected to our API.
The second level of vehicle data is focused on taxation, CO2 level, number of owners, current ownership type (lease, private, fleet, and more). This dataset can provide extremely valuable information to our clients, enriching our client systems with valuable data that is not available anywhere else.
The third level of vehicle data is collected from third-party companies and other connectors. We usually incorporate mileage data, mileage verification and alerts here, in case of negative mileage detection or any mileage anomalies with the vehicle. Obviously higher the level of data, the more expensive is the returned dataset and therefore, more automation is required on our side to collect, process, verify and package the data.
Q. How can automotive businesses tap into the power of SaaS?
Dealership management systems (DMS) are an amazing way for the automotive industry to tap into SaaS. Automotives Cloud has an EU DMS in place already called Autocerfa.com, which enables a car dealership to manage the lifecycle of a vehicle within their store for their clients. For instance, Autocerfa SaaS DMS is priced at 39.99 Euros/Month/User. This allows dealerships to have access to a comprehensive software with an easy interface, but also allows them to access a marketplace of insurance, warranty, vehicle registration and administration that will take the client experience to a new level. The user can get a tailor-made experience depending on the vehicle, client, location, and requested services. As of now, Autocerfa.com SaaS platform has more than 4000 B2B clients.
Q. How important are partnerships to your company?
Partnerships are extremely important to us. For example, mileage data is crucial to our business model and provides our clients the highest grade of vehicle data. The mileage data is verified, analyzed and processed by our partners. We consider mileage data as variables that change with time.
Q. How was it working through the pandemic? How challenging was it for you?
Everyone worked from home. We re-organized the workflows, automations and internal processes to fit the work-from-home culture. The challenging part of working from home is IT security. Switching from a centralized IT security layer to a multi-location decentralized IT infrastructure has been harder than expected. In one word, we adapted!
Q. What is the company’s vision and ambition for the road ahead?
We want to be the gateway of vehicle data between US-EU and the East. We have partially achieved this vision as we already store vehicle data from most EU countries, the U.S. and some Asian countries.
The Leader Upfront
Michel Sedaghat, CEO
He is the Principal Co-founder of AutoCerfa, a platform that enables auto dealers and dealership groups bridge the gap between sales, service, and marketing. He has worked with EMCOR Facilities Services and Etisalat as its IT Director. He has also worked with Fortune PromoSeven as the Group Head of IT. He has also volunteered for the United Nations as its Ground Zero Engineer.
He has an M.Sc in Software Engineering from the Nottingham Trent University.