Magdalena Jackiewicz
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Magdalena Jackiewicz
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Adam Szymański
Solutions Architect

Rev up your mobility app: step-by-step guide to integrating third-party car APIs

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The digital transformation in the automotive industry continues to turn cars into advanced computing systems. While an average car contained 10 million lines of code in 2010, that number is expected to rise to 300 m by 2030, or up to 500 m if we’re talking about self-driving vehicles.

Moreover, a study conducted by McKinsey on automotive software and related electronics predicts that the specific market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7% from 2020 to 2030. Needless to say, we can only expect a growing reliance on software in cars which leads to higher demand for car APIs.

What exactly is a car API? What data does it include? How to integrate it in an automotive app? If you’re looking for answers to these questions, you’ve come to the right place. This article sheds light on these topics and also explains how to use them to rev up the mobility app you’re building.

Now, fasten your seatbelt as we’re diving straight in!

What is a third-party car API?

A car API (Application Programming Interface) is a set of protocols, tools, and definitions that facilitate the communication between software and connected vehicles. It links the automotive industry with mobility apps, allowing developers to use vehicle-related data to power specific functionalities within automotive apps.

In essence, car APIs are a standardized way for developers to retrieve real-time information related to specific vehicles, including:

  • VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)
  • Vehicle attributes, such as make, model, production year
  • Location data
  • Odometer data
  • EV battery level
  • EV charging status
  • EV charge limit
  • EV set charge limit
  • EV start & stop charge
  • Fuel tank data
  • Tire pressure data
  • Engine oil life date

From the technical perspective, automotive APIs expose a range of endpoints that programmers can use to access specific data points or trigger specific actions.

Car APIs are the key enabler of fleet management functions for Mobility as a Service (MaaS) providers: they allow for retrieval of vehicle data, which is not only essential to the provision of services, but also instrumental to reducing operational costs and offering frictionless customer experience. Consider the below types of third-party APIs: 

  • Vehicle information APIs: provide detailed information about specific vehicle models, including specifications, features, pricing, and available options.
  • Vehicle status API: aggregates real-time information on e.g. status of doors (locked/unlocked), windows (open/closed), status of lights, battery levels (in case of electric or hybrid vehicles, etc.
  • Telematics APIs: offer real-time access to a wide range of telematic vehicle data, such as vehicle location, speed, fuel level, mileage, tire pressure, and engine diagnostics.
  • Car parts API: allows to feed detailed information and specification of the car parts into the application.
  • Control APIs: enable remote control of specific vehicle functions through an app, e.g. locking/unlocking doors.
  • Charging APIs: these have become crucial for automotive apps targeting EV owners. Charging APIs offer access to information about charging station locations, availability, charging rates, and more.
  • Maintenance and service APIs: these offer access to vehicle maintenance information, service schedules, and diagnostic data. They also enable automotive apps to provide timely maintenance reminders, facilitate appointment scheduling with service centers, and offer personalized service recommendations.
  • Usage-based insurance APIs: enable insurance providers to collect vehicle data and usage patterns to calculate insurance premiums based on individual driving behavior. These APIs provide access to driving data, including distance traveled, speed, or even accelerating and braking patterns.

Key advantages of integrating car database APIs in mobility applications

Car APIs are in fact transforming the automotive industry by creating opportunities for innovative applications and services. With car APIs, developers can build various mobility and MaaS apps, vehicle tracking systems, remote control functionalities, fleet management solutions, and more. APIs facilitate the creation of feature-rich applications that enhance the user experience and provide valuable insights into vehicle performance. Consider the following:

Access to real-time vehicle data

Integrating car APIs in automotive apps gives users access to real-time vehicle data, including speed, fuel level, or issues that must be immediately addressed. This means drivers stay informed with accurate and up-to-date information about their vehicles, which on the one hand offers insights into the condition of the vehicle and a more personalized experience on the other.

Enhanced user experience of mobility apps

Automotive APIs allow you to develop features that enable users to remotely interact with their cars, e.g. like remote locking/unlocking and monitoring vehicle health. These capabilities enhance convenience, comfort, and overall user satisfaction.

Enhanced vehicle safety

Car APIs enable proactive maintenance scheduling and service reminders based on vehicle diagnostics. By providing users with timely notifications, you can help them maintain their vehicles in optimal condition, enhancing safety and prolonging vehicle lifespan.

7 steps to integrating car APIs into your mobility app

As is the case with most software development projects, integrating car APIs into your mobility application requires a systematic approach that includes detailed planning. It’s critical to understand that the exact process of integrating an API into a mobility app will depend on the existing tool itself. An experienced provider can help you tailor that process to your specific requirements.

The general procedure of implementing automotive APIs effectively will include the following steps.

Step 1: Define car API integration goals

Begin with defining the specific goals you want to achieve by integrating car APIs into your automotive app. You’ll have to identify the specific functionalities that your mobility app should provide as well as the required data points you need to access to implement them. 

Step 2: Choose the right car API provider

Here, you’ll have to research your options and familiarize yourself with the documentation provided by the selected car API provider. This will help you understand the available endpoints, request/response formats, etc. The documentation should include limitations of the specific API – pay attention to those.

Step 3: Obtain vehicle API access and credentials

Once you choose the best car API provider, you’ll have to sign up for their service to obtain the necessary access credentials, such as API keys or OAuth tokens.

Step 4: Set up the project environment

Next, you’ll have to create a new project or navigate to the existing codebase of your automotive app. This step requires you to ensure that you have the necessary tools and frameworks to make API requests and handle responses (e.g., HTTP client libraries, JSON parsers).

Step 5: Integrate car data API resources

Now comes the exciting part – integrating the car API endpoints into your app. Begin by identifying the specific endpoints you need to interact with to retrieve data or perform actions. You’ll have to use the appropriate methods to make these requests (in accordance with car API documentation specifications). When you receive responses, include them in your app's code by parsing the response data (usually in JSON format) and extracting the required information. The car API may return errors or status codes, in which case you’ll have to implement appropriate error handling and messaging in your app.

Step 6: Perform sandbox testing

Sandbox testing allows developers to test the integration in a simulated and  controlled environment. The purpose of such testing is to ensure you integrate the API correctly without impacting the live system or real users. It will require using real life data to perform tests on a fictional car, created especially for this purpose.

Step 7: Monitor and maintain your 3rd-party car API integration

Stay updated with the car API provider's documentation and announcements for any changes or updates that may affect your integration. It’s your job to ensure the car API integration continues to function correctly!

By following these steps, you can successfully integrate car APIs into your automotive app, enabling enhanced functionalities and access to vehicle data. Remember to consult the specific documentation provided by the car API provider for any additional guidelines or requirements unique to their API.

Best practices for integrating car APIs into your mobility app

Now that you understand the process of integrating car APIs into a mobility app, let's take a look at some best practices that ensure effective implementation:

Prioritize data privacy and compliance

When integrating car APIs, make sure you adhere to relevant data privacy regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Clearly communicate your app's data handling practices to users and obtain their consent for accessing and using their vehicle-related data.

Ensure secure and encrypted communication

When integrating a 3rd-party car API, prioritize the security of the data transmitted between your application and the API provider. Use secure communication protocols such as HTTPS to encrypt data and prevent unauthorized access or tampering.

Optimize car API requests for efficiency

Design your API integration to minimize unnecessary API requests and optimize the data transfer process. Avoid excessive polling or unnecessary data transfers, and make use of caching mechanisms where appropriate to reduce the load on both your application and the API provider.

Handle errors and exceptions gracefully

Implement robust error handling mechanisms in your integration to handle potential failures or exceptions. Properly handle error responses from the API and provide meaningful error messages to users, assisting in troubleshooting and resolving issues effectively.

Stay updated with car API provider updates

Stay informed about the API provider's announcements, updates, and deprecations. Follow their documentation, changelogs, or developer forums to ensure your integration remains compatible and up to date. Promptly address any required updates to avoid disruptions to your application.

Implement proper user authorization and permissions

If your application involves user-specific data, ensure that proper authorization mechanisms are implemented. Authenticate users securely and assign appropriate permissions to control access to different API features and data. This helps protect user privacy and prevents unauthorized use of the API.

Provide vehicle maintenance reminders

Road safety should always be a priority, so leverage car APIs to retrieve vehicle health data and send users proactive maintenance reminders, no matter the primary purpose of your app. Notify users about upcoming service intervals, oil changes, tire rotations, or any potential issues detected by the vehicle's diagnostic system. 

Revving up your mobility app with RST Software

You can certainly take your existing mobility app to the next level by integrating various car APIs. They help to unlock real-time vehicle data to offer a more personalized and feature-rich experience. With thought-through planning and implementation, your mobility app can offer brand new ways for users to interact with their vehicles, offering convenience, efficiency, and a truly connected experience.

At RST software, we have accumulated over two decades of experience in logistics software development, custom mapping and mobility solutions, such as, CarFellows, Bussr, BetterTaxi and other applications that rely on location-based services. If you’re looking for a long-term partner with expertise like ours, feel free to send your inquiry to and we’ll be in touch within 24 hrs.

People also ask

What are some of the use cases of car APIs?

Car APIs offer a wide range of use cases and possibilities for developers to leverage vehicle data and functionality. Here are some common use cases of Car APIs:

  1. Telematics and Fleet Management: Car APIs enable developers to gather real-time vehicle data such as location, speed, fuel consumption, and diagnostics. This data can be used for fleet management, tracking vehicle performance, optimizing routes, and improving overall efficiency.
  2. Connected Car Applications: Car APIs allow developers to create connected car applications that provide users with access to their vehicle data remotely. Users can check their car's fuel level, lock/unlock doors, start/stop the engine, and even set preferences for seat positioning or climate control.
  3. Car-Sharing and Ride-Hailing Services: Car APIs can be integrated into car-sharing and ride-hailing platforms to facilitate vehicle access and management. Developers can use APIs to check vehicle availability, reserve cars, unlock vehicles for users, and track trip data for billing purposes.
  4. Insurance and Usage-Based Services: Car APIs enable the collection of driving behavior data, such as speed, acceleration, and braking patterns. Insurance companies can leverage this data to offer personalized insurance plans based on individual driving habits, potentially leading to lower premiums for safe drivers.
  5. Vehicle Diagnostics and Maintenance: Car APIs provide access to vehicle diagnostics, enabling developers to monitor the health of the vehicle and provide maintenance reminders to users. This can help prevent breakdowns, optimize maintenance schedules, and reduce repair costs.
  6. Integration with Smart Home Systems: Car APIs can be integrated with smart home systems to enable automation and synchronization between vehicles and homes. For example, users can set up triggers to open the garage door, adjust home climate settings, or turn on lights when the car enters the vicinity.
  7. Energy Optimization: Electric vehicle APIs can provide information on battery status, charging rates, and charging station availability. This data can be used to optimize charging schedules, find nearby charging stations, and manage energy consumption efficiently.

These are just a few examples of the many possible use cases for Car APIs. The specific use cases will depend on the requirements and goals of the developers and the applications they are building.

What are some of the leading third-party car API providers?

Here’s a list of some of the leading car API providers:

  1. Otonomo: Otonomo is a leading car API provider that specializes in connected car data. They offer a wide range of APIs that provide access to vehicle data, including telematics, location, fuel, maintenance, and more. Otonomo works with automotive manufacturers and OEMs to securely collect and distribute vehicle data for various applications and services.
  2. Mojio: Mojio is a prominent car API provider known for its connected car platform. They offer APIs that enable developers to access vehicle data, including diagnostics, fuel, location, and driver behavior. Mojio focuses on providing real-time insights and connectivity solutions to enhance the overall driving experience.
  3. Vinli: Vinli is a renowned car API provider that offers a cloud-based connected car platform. They provide APIs for accessing vehicle data, including diagnostics, location, fuel, and more. Vinli focuses on creating innovative solutions for vehicle connectivity, fleet management, and smart city integration.
  4. Smartcar: Smartcar is a leading car API provider that offers a wide range of APIs for developers to interact with vehicle data. Their APIs cover various functionalities, including location, vehicle control, fuel, odometer, and more. Smartcar aims to simplify the integration process by providing a standardized approach to accessing car data across different vehicle makes and models.
  5. Telenav: Telenav is a well-known car API provider that specializes in navigation and location-based services. They offer APIs for mapping, routing, geocoding, and real-time traffic data. Telenav's APIs are widely used in automotive apps to provide accurate and efficient navigation experiences.
  6. WirelessCar: WirelessCar's solutions include telematics, remote diagnostics, infotainment, fleet management, and over-the-air software updates, among others. These services help enhance vehicle connectivity, improve safety and security features, enable remote monitoring and control of vehicles, and provide drivers with personalized experiences and connected services.

Please note that the car API landscape is dynamic, and new providers may have emerged since my knowledge cutoff. It's always a good idea to research and evaluate the latest options available based on your specific requirements.

How to select the right car API provider?

Integrating a car API (Application Programming Interface) into your automotive app can unlock a world of possibilities, empowering you to provide enhanced functionalities and access valuable vehicle data. However, choosing the right car API provider is crucial to ensure compatibility, support, and scalability for your app. In this article, we will explore the key factors to consider when selecting a car API provider, enabling you to make an informed decision that aligns with your app's requirements and goals.

Researching Available Car API Providers: The first step in selecting the right car API provider is conducting thorough research. There are several providers in the market, each offering their own set of features and services. Start by exploring the available options and creating a shortlist of potential providers that align with your app's needs.

  1. Evaluating Compatibility with Your App's Requirements 

Once you have a shortlist of potential car API providers, evaluate their compatibility with your app's specific requirements. Consider the following aspects:

  • Supported Functionality: Assess whether the API provider offers the specific functionalities and data points you require. For example, if you need access to telematics data or control features, ensure that the provider supports these capabilities
  • Vehicle Compatibility: Verify if the car API provider supports the make, models, and years of vehicles that your app targets. Different providers may have varying coverage and support for different vehicle types.
  • Integration Complexity: Evaluate the ease of integration with the API provider. Some providers may offer SDKs (Software Development Kits) or client libraries that simplify the integration process, while others may require more manual configuration.
  1. Considering Documentation, Support, and Community Resources

Documentation, support, and community resources play a vital role in successful API integration. Consider the following factors:

  • Documentation: Review the API provider's documentation thoroughly. It should be comprehensive, well-structured, and provide clear guidelines on how to integrate the API into your app. Look for examples, code snippets, and explanations of endpoints and data structures.
  • Support Channels: Determine the available support channels provided by the API provider. This could include email support, chat support, or a dedicated support portal. Prompt and reliable support is essential in case you encounter any issues during the integration process.
  • Community Resources: Assess the availability of community resources such as forums, developer communities, or online groups. These resources can be invaluable in troubleshooting, sharing best practices, and connecting with other developers who have integrated the same API.
  1. Examining Pricing Models and Scalability Options: 

Pricing models and scalability options are critical factors to consider when selecting a car API provider. Keep the following points in mind:

  • Pricing Structure: Understand the pricing model offered by the API provider. It may involve a monthly subscription, pay-as-you-go, or tiered pricing based on usage. Consider your budget and projected usage to ensure the pricing structure aligns with your app's needs.
  • Scalability: Evaluate the scalability options provided by the API provider. As your app grows and the user base expands, you'll need assurance that the API can handle increased traffic and data volume without compromising performance or incurring additional costs.

Selecting the right car API provider is crucial for the success of your automotive app. By conducting thorough research, evaluating compatibility, considering documentation and support, and examining pricing models and scalability options, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your app's requirements. Remember to prioritize the provider that offers the desired functionality, comprehensive documentation, reliable support, and scalability options that best suit your app's needs. With the right car API provider, you can rev up your automotive app and provide an exceptional user experience.

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