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Renault embraces blockchain to track vehicle maintenance history

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French car manufacturer, Groupe Renault, has announced a new car maintenance log based on blockchain technology.

The automaker has been edging towards greater digitisation in its business strategy; recently, RCI Bank and Services – Renault’s finance subsidiary – joined the R3 distributed ledger consortium, which leads research and development of blockchain in financial technology.

Renault worked with Microsoft and VISEO, and a Chinese start up, BitSe, to develop a prototype of the digitised log. It was hosted on the cloud-based Azure platform, developed by Microsoft as a core part of its blockchain strategy.

Blockchain enabled transparency across webs of financial exchanges. It was first created as a support system for Bitcoin, the high-profile virtual currency. Blockchain retains a secure, accessible, decentralised database of all transactions, shared across a network of computers.

Currently, every bit of information about a car’s maintenance history is kept across a range of organisations – dealers, workshops and others – and in different formats. This makes tracking down a record of the vehicle’s history a complex and tedious task. The blockchain-based maintenance log would put all this information in one place for dealers and owners to access.

“This digital car maintenance book will enable us to provide our customers with new services in an ecosystem alongside insurers and dealers,” said Elie Elbaz, director of digital and connected vehicles for Renault. “Blockchain technology is able to create a reliable trust protocol.”

Renault suggested that, in the future, blockchain could be used in other areas of its business such as vehicle-based micro-transactions.

“Beyond this project, this technology will be a major step forward for connected vehicles and the micro-transactions and security requirements associated with them.”

Other major European automakers, including Porsche and Daimler, have also taken steps to investigate or integrate blockchain technology. For instance, in April 2017, Porsche launched a competition inviting blockchain start-ups to suggest how blockchain technology could be applied to its business.

Besides the financial sector, blockchain technology is beginning to be explored by other sectors, including the charitable sector for allowing monetary donations to be tracked to ensure that they are not wasted.

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