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How Vodafone Automotive is making car theft a thing of the past

17 Jul 2023
Gion Baker - Head of Vodafone Automotive

Gion Baker

Head of Vodafone Automotive

When thinking about the automotive industry, one of the biggest threats to customers today is around safety & security, especially when it comes to vehicle theft. This is why Vodafone Automotive have joined forces with Mercedes-Benz Group AG to address this challenge and protect their customer both today and in the future.

There’s no doubt that Mercedes-Benz Group AG is synonymous with luxury experiences as one of the most successful automotive companies in the world. It’s known for its commitment to luxury and premium services - from financing, leasing, car subscription and rentals to fleet management, digital services and insurance brokerage, as well as innovative mobility services.

Customer service is at the heart of everything they do – no matter whether you use your vehicle for personal use, work, or even a business with a fleet of vehicles. Great customer experience is paramount, from the interaction with the sales rep right through the buying process, back to base and throughout the lifecycle of the vehicle.

Unfortunately, car theft in Europe and North America is on the rise. Increasingly sophisticated thieves are finding ways around vehicle security systems with great success. However, with digitalisation offering car manufacturers the unique opportunity to create customer-focused experiences, which in this case will help bring reassurances and fight the rising crime rate, it’s paramount Mercedes-Benz Group AG found a partner that supported this vision.

Recently I had the opportunity to catch up with Andreas Häfner, Team Leader Product Management Mercedes Me Connect, to discuss what this looks like:

Gion: Firstly Andreas, let’s set the scene - how does the Mercedes-Benz strategy lead the megatrends that are emerging in the automotive industry?

Andreas: Electrification and digitalisation are the main challenges we’re addressing, defining 3 strategic pillars. In the first instance we want to give back time to our customers. This means that we’ve developed products and services that add value for a convenient and safe drive. Second, is a driving experience which is exciting for each of our customers, both newcomers as well as to Mercedes-Benz brand lovers. The third pillar is easiness; like GUARD 360°, for an interactive, smooth, and professional customer journey. For us these principles are the best way to lead in software-driven cars and position our customers at the core of our brand.

Gion: You’ve named GUARD 360°, what role does this play and how does it fulfil your vision and customers’ expectations?

Andreas: We launched our connected services back in 2014 with a complete suite of services via the ‘Mercedes me’ app, allowing our customers to operate remotely. GUARD 360° fits perfect with this approach.

GUARD 360° is an integral pillar of our digitalisation strategy focusing on customer-centric safety and security inside the connected car. It includes multiple services, for example: An electronic alarm and notification system, triggered by intelligent sensors which detect if someone has hit, vandalised or broken into the vehicle. If the car gets stolen, Vodafone’s integrated service ‘Stolen Vehicle Help’ kicks in which is managed by your security experts whose tracking capabilities via our Mercedes-Benz backends offers the chance to recover the vehicle as fast as possible.

We’re very proud that GUARD 360° is named as the first or second most preferred solution by our customers. This continuing positive feedback from Mercedes-Benz owners who have had their car recovered highlights we’re on the right path and levels back to our core customer-centric values around safety and security.

Gion: How do you see the evolution of safety and security services from reactive to proactive and how will GUARD 360° continue to develop in the coming years?

Andreas: We’re continually developing new ideas focused on the safety aspects with a dedicated group in R&D. The plan is to continuously improve GUARD 360° by developing new functionalities ranging from protection by design to prevention by design such as early theft detection.

From a technology view, we’re working on the interaction of the moving car, the so called ‘Car-to-X’ to proactively reduce collisions and unexpected events occurring. Customers are increasingly viewing, in the concept of luxury, values and benefits that go beyond the physical experience of driving the car, and through our dedication to safety and security, we believe to interpret this trend.

Gion: What experience did Vodafone Automotive bring in launching GUARD 360°? What role do we play in bringing your connected services to life? 

Andreas: Realising your Mercedes has been stolen is a very sensitive time. We needed a partner who embodied our brand values and could always provide a professional and quick response, in any situation and time. In this moment our partner is the ‘face’ of Mercedes, it was critical we had a security expert and a reliable partner who put customer experience and safety first.

Vodafone Automotive has a long track record in connected vehicle security, with an extended security network via a unique platform architecture, they could cover our international extension in almost 50 countries and eventually support us on new markets to come. Throughout our ongoing collaboration, we’ve successfully integrated ‘Stolen Vehicle Help’ in the ‘Mercedes me’ app focusing on our third pillar – easiness. Now, when the car is stolen it’s a simple click of a button via the ‘Stolen Vehicle Help’ service on the app which leads directly to Vodafone Automotive’s secure operator for swift and personalised support.

We also have added peace of mind thanks to Vodafone’s Automotives certification from the insurance companies, giving us the confidence to look at innovative value propositions for our customers. We are proud that together we have made of GUARD 360° a success story and that every Mercedes owner can benefit from the service, accessing unique, luxury experience.

We are looking forward to more projects with Vodafone Automotive, building the future of secure luxury vehicles together.

Discover more about our work in the automotive industry and the future of car connectivity.

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