09 July 2020

Automotive acronyms you need to know to develop for dealers

Automotive Acronyms and Terms Can Be Like Learning a Foreign Language

by: Brian Miller

Your firm just landed your first contract for an automotive dealer or OEM and you’re ready to start building an amazing new solution to make you rich. Congratulations! Then you get on the phone with folks at a dealership, or you start reading API specs here on Fortellis and you are suddenly exposed to a whole new language. While I can’t protect you from the confusing bantering call with a dealership manager, I can help arm you with some knowledge to make that call go smoother.

Commonly Used Automotive Acronyms

I’ve often called the automotive industry the biggest small business out there. Language is one of the ways the industry unintentionally keeps outsiders (new people and new vendors) …well…outside. Let’s first take a look at some of the most common acronyms in the industry. These terms in shorthand, are rattled off in many a meeting without a thought of how lost someone new might be.

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A drivetrain that employs two differentials and a transfer case to provide power to all four wheels of a vehicle.


Anti-lock braking system senses wheel slippage when you hit the brake, and it adjusts the braking pressure to give optimal contact between your tires and the road. Note that some German automakers may call this ARS, acceleration slip regulation.


Adaptive cruise control scans the area ahead of your vehicle when the cruise control is on,  automatically throttle and breaks to maintain a safe distance form traffic in front of the vehicle. 


The "Actual Cash Value" of the vehicle use usually  determined by an appraisal performed by a used car manager


Automotive Lease Guide - Private company that track future value of vehicles for the purpose of calculating a lease


Annual Percentage Rate. The cost of credit (i.e., the interest rate) expressed as a yearly rate.


All-wheel drive. A drivetrain that employs a front, rear and center differential to provide power to all four wheels of a vehicle.


Business Development Center,  handles any calls for the dealership, sets appointments for the sales and/or service staff, and helps resolve customer problems.


Corporate Average Fuel Economy, an agreement between the United States government and automakers to increase fuel economy in their vehicles to 54.5 miles per gallon for cars and light-duty trucks by the year 2025.


Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle - A used vehicle offered for sale by a franchised dealer for that vehicle make and who follows the manufacturers requirements for "Certifying" the vehicle (including inspection and service) and which, upon sale, is accompanied by a manufacturer-backed warranty.


Customer Management System


Crossover vehicles -  combine SUV design features with design features of a car


A transmission with a continuously variable drive ratio (as opposed to conventionally stepped gear ratios) that maintains a steady acceleration curve with no pauses for gear changes.


Direct Fuel Injection – Fuel is injected directly into the engine instead of mixing it with air before it reaches the intake valve passage.


Dealer Management System


Department of Motor Vehicles


Abbreviation for the United States Department of Transportation.


Daytime Running Lights – Low energy lights that switch on automatically whenever the vehicle is in operation to increase the visibility


Electronic Stability Control


Electronic Vehicle - A vehicle propelled by the use of batteries in place of a traditional engine


Front-engine front-wheel drive. A vehicle that is propelled solely by its front wheels and whose engine is located forward of its front axle.


Fair Isaac Corporation, which is a company that calculates and distributes consumer credit scores.


Front-engine rear-wheel drive. A vehicle that is propelled solely by its rear wheels and whose engine is located forward of its front axle.


Front Wheel Drive – Power from the engine is sent to the front wheels only.


General Manager who presides over all departments of a dealership


General Sales Manager who presides over all sales departments at a dealership


The sum of a vehicles curb weight, cargo weight capacity and passenger weight capacity.


Horsepower – The measure of an engine’s work rate, which is torque (twisting force) multiplied by speed (how fast it is spinning).


Insurance Institute for Highway Safety - A nonprofit, scientific and educational organization funded by auto manufactures, dedicated to reducing injuries and deaths from automobile crashes. 


Inherently low-emission vehicle. An emissions standard for alternative-fuel vehicles with closed and pressurized fuel systems.


Internet Lead Management System


Inventory Management System - takes an inventory feed from a DMS allows for editing of descriptions, pricing, and photos. The system then sends edited data to websites for display in inventory listings.


International Standards Organization


Industry Service Vendor


International Window Film Association


Lane Departure Warning System. Cameras and onboard sensors warn if a vehicle is drifting out of marked lanes


Low emission vehicle. A vehicle that meets the average emissions standard within the LEV program.


LNG (Liquefied natural gas) is natural gas, used as a fuel source


Limited Slip Differential – If one wheel loses traction, a limited slip diff prevents all the power being transmitted to the spinning wheel, instead allocating a proportion of the power to the other driven wheels that have grip.


Long Wheelbase – A lengthened version of an existing vehicle chassis, often available as an option for luxury sadans and trucks


US Value - The fuel economy of an automobile relates distance traveled by a vehicle and the amount of fuel consumed.


US Value - Miles per gallon comparing the energy consumed by alternative fuel vehicles to that of traditional gas-powered vehicle


Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price — also known as “sticker” price


National Automobile Dealers Association


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


National Independent Automobile Dealers Association


Original Equipment Manufacturer


A Pre-Delivery Inspection is part of the process of preparing a vehicle for display or delivery. Some manufacturers require proof the PDI has occurred and may compensate a dealer for the service. Also known as “make ready,” “prep,” or “get-ready.”


Parts Order - An invoice generated at the parts counter for the purchase of a part or group of parts


Partial zero emission vehicle. A vehicle that has zero evaporative emissions and meets the EPA?s SULEV standard.


Repair Order - A document created when a vehicle is brought in for service contained work performed an related costs


Revolutions per minute.


Rear-engine rear-wheel drive. A vehicle that is propelled solely by its rear wheels and whose engine is located aft of its front axle.


Rear Wheel Drive – Power from the engine is sent to the rear wheels only.


Specialty Equipment Market Association


Sequential manual gearbox. Also referred to as "DSG," "direct shift gearbox" and "automated manual transmission."


Search Results Page - A list of vehicle on a web site after preforming a search, see also "VLP" or "VRP"


Super-ultra low emission vehicle. A vehicle that meets an emissions standard that is stricter than the ULEV standard.


Sport Utility Vehicle - A vehicle classification that combine elements of road-going passenger cars with features from off-road vehicles


Traction Control System, or "TCS." A safety feature that regulates wheel spin and prevents loss of control under acceleration by ensuring maximum traction and contact between the tires and the road 


Ultra-low emission vehicle standard; an emissions standard within the LEV program, tighter than the LEV standard.


Vehicle Description Page - This represents a single vehicle, listing all features, pricing, mileage, and options for that single vehicle.


A Vehicle Identification Number, or "VIN," is the unique code that is assigned to an individual vehicle by its manufacturer and that distinguishes it from all other vehicles.


Vehicle Listing Page - A list of vehicles on web site - see also "VLP" or "SRP"


Vehicle Results Page - A list of vehicles on web site, after filtering results, se also "VLP" or "SRP"


Zero emission vehicle. The most restrictive emissions standard.

Do you have some common acronyms we missed? Add them to the comments below so we can all learn together.

Post by Brian Miller