California entrepreneur Jon Corn has introduced a GPS-based wireless system that can be installed in RVs to track their location and provide other information via the Internet that can be used by manufacturers, dealers, suppliers, wholesale and retail lenders and consumers in a variety of ways.
”Every stakeholder can access useful information and data through our system,” said Corn, president of RV-ID Inc., Solana Beach, Calif.
Corn, former general counsel for now-defunct National RV Holdings Inc., said RV|ID initially was designed to help manufacturers avoid lemon-law complaints by letting them know how long an RV had been in a shop for repairs. The length of time a unit spends in a repair facility without being fixed can trigger a finding that the unit is a ”lemon” in many states, he said.
”If they get an alert that the unit is about ready to cross the lemon law limit, they can get involved in the repair and help expedite it,” Corn said. ”Sometimes just telling a dealer that a unit is coming up to a deadline can be helpful, or they can proactively contact the customer to let them know the company is actively involved in helping solve their problem.”
By the same token, RV|ID can be set up as the core of an inventory management system, letting the manufacturer or dealer know the status of any unit on their lot at any moment.
After 18 months of development and a $2 million investment in developing software, RV|ID (rv-id.com <http://rv-id.com> ) has morphed into a broader system that can be employed to track inventories at different levels of the wholesale chain.
And on the consumer side through myRV|ID (myrv-id.com <http://myrv-id.com>), RV|ID can:
- Provide unit maintenance alerts.
- Be used as the hub of an Internet-based social network.
- Provide a ”Lo-Jack”-type service if the RV is stolen.
Each customer has a password-protected portal through the RV|ID website unique to their subscription. ”For each customer type there is a set of parameters that apply to the RVs that they are monitoring,” Corn said. ”If those rules are broken they get a text message or they can see what’s going on on the website.”
RV|ID was first installed as a pilot project in 2010 in 50 motorhomes being financed by a major floorplan lender to track inventory sales activity on dealers’ lots.
The device itself is a small black box about the size of an iPhone that can be installed in about 10 minutes. ”That device, basically, is how the data goes in and out,” Corn said. ”Depending on what type user you are, you see various things.”
At some point, Corn expects to modify RV|ID to hook into an RV’s RV-C system which tracks diagnostic information for owners directly from the unit.
Also on the consumer side, myRV|ID provides maintenance alerts and can act as theft protection. ”If the unit is in storage mode, when your RV moves you receive an alert and you can get online and see precisely where it is in real time.”
Consumers also can establish a Facebook-like network using their myRV|ID portal that allows trips to be recorded and the location of their RV to be shared with invited family and friends. ”If you go to a rally where there are several thousand RVs,” said Corn, ”you can find out where your friends are. It’s the same concept as Facebook and sharing can be set at several levels for privacy.”
Currently, RV|ID is being installed in all Coachmen RV Class A motorhomes sold in California, Texas and Florida with plans to take the program nationwide later, according to Corn.
RV|ID units also are being utilized in Pleasureway camper vans, Forest River Class A diesel motorhomess and CanaDream motorized rental units.
Internet access to the unit through RV|ID and myRV|ID is restricted to authorized users. ”When Coachmen logs in, for instance, they only see Coachmen units,” Corn said, adding that Coachmen, is installing the unit and including a six-month subscription to myRV|ID, which costs $14.99 per month.
While RV|ID currently is available only through installation by manufacturers, Corn said eventually the service will be sold directly to consumers or at retail through RV dealers. Consumers also can ask their unit’s manufacturer to install RV|ID when ordering a new unit, he said.