Price matching, loyalty schemes and special offers – the growth of petrol price comparison tools is set to dramatically change the way motorists shop for petrol in a few years.

NSW Finance Minister Victor Dominello, who launched the FuelCheck website last year, said car and software companies have been contacting the government, eager to integrate the real-time data feeds into their car computer systems.

He said in the short term, the direct feeds would allow cars to display a list of cheap petrol deals in the driver’s vicinity.

Opting for the cheapest petrol option could save the average motorist about $700 a year.

“You would jump into your car and say ‘I want to fill up when the tank is 25 per cent empty and I’m prepared to deviate a kilometre outside my normal route, please find the cheapest petrol’,” he said.

But he said in a few years, FuelCheck could be used to “gamify” the petrol retail market, ultimately helping motorists to shave hundreds of dollars more off their yearly petrol bill.

“So every time a motorists uses FuelCheck they could get a bonus point and after 20 points maybe they could get a discount or a movie ticket, because we want to encourage people to exercise their muscle in the marketplace,” he said.

“The car manufacturers are already onto it, they realise the power.”

The FuelCheck website shows real-time information about prices for all types of petrol at all service stations across the state. There are more than 13,000 users a day.

Brian Smith from connected car platform provider Intelematics says it is working on developing a system where the driver can plug in details such as preferred fuel, preferred brand, when they want to be alerted (for example, when the tank is 25 per cent full), and the extra distance they’re willing to travel.

“It could know where you normally drive, whether it’s a week day, and run on background mode until you need it, and then it will present the best options,” he said.

Mr Smith, the general manager of strategic relationships, said the system would also allow retailers to send special offers, provided the driver is OK with receiving marketing material.

“There could be a reward program, like buy 10, get the 11th free. A marketing strategy could be built on top,” he said.

“There are so many opportunities for us, retailers and car manufacturers.”

Brent Stafford, the Asia Pacific director of Internet of Things at global mapping company Here, said they were in the midst of accessing the government’s price data.

He said their maps already showed weather, road service condition, tolling and car park availability data, and incorporating real-time petrol prices from FuelCheck was the next logical step.

He said the availability of such data would drive competition and change the way petrol is sold, from retailers offering fuel plans to price match promises.

“We already see price matching competition for televisions and even interest rates on home loans but we haven’t seen that type of aggressive competition in the fuel business, and so having access to data will drive those types of normal, competitive behaviours,” he said.

“We’re in nine out of 10 brands globally and have very strong penetration within Australia, and all car manufacturers want this type of data as a matter of urgency because it’s another way to enhance the customer experience.”

Extracted from The Age.

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