Mercedes-Benz collaborates on blockchain-based used car management platform

Beijing Mercedes-Benz Sales Service (BMBS) has partnered with PlatOn, a blockchain-based used car value management platform to help understand the value depreciation of its cars and automate the process in real-time. Chinese-based PlatOn is a privacy-preserving computing network that develops solutions within different segments including payments, healthcare, smart cities and transport. 

PlatOn’s Vehicle Residual Value Management Platform (VRVMP) will be able to store static and dynamic data of vehicles along their lifetime, helping companies compute the residual value of vehicles at any given point in time. 

Until now, the used vehicle market did not have a concrete yardstick for objectively measuring the value of a vehicle, with estimations being roughly calculated based on some defining incidents in the vehicle’s life – including miles driven, gas mileage, general wear and tear, and damage caused by accidents. 

To normalize and have greater control over prices set in the used vehicle market, it becomes essential to have cognizance on these parameters by collecting historical and real-time data flowing out of the vehicle. Apart from storing this information, PlatOn’s platform goes one step further to preserve privacy by embedding data into a blockchain-based network that effectively cannot be altered without the explicit approval of all the stakeholders in the value chain – the used vehicle owners, vehicle inspection firms and car dealerships. 

“With over 6.5 million used cars in China traded in the first half of the year alone, we hope that our collaboration with BMBS will highlight the need for more sophisticated data collection systems to accurately monitor the value of the vehicles comprising China’s substantial used car market,” said Ada Xiao, the chief strategy officer of PlatOn.

Apart from its collaboration with BMBS, PlatOn has also opened its platform to all relevant stakeholders within the used car market, including the 4S dealerships. The 4S model in China is the abbreviation for sales, service, spare parts and surveys – making such stores the one-stop-shop for all car-related needs in the country. Automakers generally tend to partner with authorized 4S stores, as it helps them understand the pulse of the market and keep in touch with its customers. 

Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, has been quite busy within the blockchain space looking to leverage the nascent technology – specifically in the payment space. Earlier this August, Daimler collaborated with German bank Commerzbank to develop a blockchain-based payment solution that automates machine-to-machine (M2M) transactions. This project was undertaken to test the direct handling of charging operations of electrically powered trucks when they need to interface with charging stations. 

Using blockchain in this process helps secure the payment gateway, as the digital ledger that blockchain entails is both immutable and decentralized. That said, this automated payment process is a use case that is reserved for the future, because the current auto landscape does not see immediate relevance in a scenario where both the vehicle and the charging point are automated. 

Daimler also has been working with Riddle & Code, a European blockchain interface solutions startup, to create an open car hardware wallet that will have a myriad of use cases ranging from autonomous vehicles, secure exchange of real-time traffic data and interaction with smart city initiatives. 

“Autonomous cars must behave consistently to be trusted. Cars are already computing devices. A secure identity ensures that the right authorities have approved code executed inside vehicles and the trustworthiness of data exchanged,” said Tom Furstner, the CEO of Riddle & Code. “Riddle & Code secures this with its cryptographic hardware and uses ledgers to turn automobiles into future market places.”

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