Just the other day, the sound of a diesel engine revving grabbed my attention. I saw a person (presumably a chauffeur) teaching one of his associates how to drive a spanking-new Ford Figo. The car still had plastic covers on its seats; its engine seemed to be begging for mercy and sounded strained as the learner was getting accustomed to the controls. Poor car! I’m sure the owners didn’t have the slightest clue of what their prized possession was going through while they were away. That got me thinking – is there a way for owners to keep track of their vehicle’s whereabouts when they’re not around?
MapmyIndia’s (MMI) Drivemate seems to be the answer to this query. It’s a tracking device that sits flush in the OBD port of a vehicle and updates its user on a real-time basis. Its operation is simple – plug in the device, download the app on your smartphone and set your alert settings. That’s it. The alerts are sent via email as well as an SMS to the user’s smartphone via a SIM card that’s placed inside the tracker. Based on your settings, it will alert you when the vehicle is over-speeding, idling for over five minutes, entering or exiting a preset boundary, if the engine is on or off, and if the device is unplugged.
It’s as simple as plug-and-play in your car’s OBD port – there’s no wire-cutting or warranty issues.
The app is updated every 15 seconds with the vehicle speed, battery charge and engine status. It will pinpoint the exact location of the vehicle on the map and also navigate the user to the vehicle. The app interface is very easy to understand and does the job pretty well. Over the time we tested the product, it was accurate in its reporting about the location of the car and how it was being driven, as my phone and inbox were bombarded with notifications time and again.
The sign-up process could have been simpler though. You have to fill a couple of forms that are included in the box, take their picture or scan them and email it to MMI’s customer care ID along with your photograph and an identity proof. Sure, the customer care executives are helpful if you need to speak to them, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the user has to wait for up to 48 hours to get this device functioning, which is the time taken to activate a SIM card, thanks to the security protocols in India.
With this tracker, users can track their vehicle at all times. Fleet operators and over-protective guardians are some of the other potential users of this product. So what’s the cost of all this? It’s Rs 9,990. Thereafter, there’s a recurring annual service renewal charge of Rs 2,400. The device which we’ve been using is called Drivemate Max, costs Rs 14,990 and features a single-tap connection to your vehicle service centre and roadside assistance.
MMI has a great product with an incredibly simple user interface, but the price of the Drivemate Max is something that may put off a lot of prospective buyers. Of course, there are cheaper alternatives from MMI itself, like the Rover Lite priced at Rs 3,250. It’s not as comprehensive, yet promises to perform the core functions of a tracker competently, that is if you don’t mind splicing a wire or two of your car.
Quick and easy installation
Real-time vehicle tracking with minimal lag
Priced at a premium over direct competitors
Expensive annual service renewal cost