Cleantech Market Intelligence
Fleet Telematics Designed for Reducing Costs
One of the themes that came from the Telematics Update conference in Detroit is that telematics is becoming a required tool for fleets. During his presentation, Mark Smith of GE Capital Fleet Services, pointed out that thanks to integrating telematics into their fleets service, companies are seeing a 15% increase in productivity per truck, which means lower costs per job. Fleet managers are experiencing lower mileage thanks to better route planning and reduced idling, all of which not only saves fuel but also reduces maintenance costs.
The fact that fleets are using telematics to reduce costs and emissions is nothing new. I wrote about this topic last summer and pointed out then that the telematics market was expected to grow to almost 6.5 million units by 2014. Almost a quarter of these installations are due to green installations.
The latest generation of telematics programs have become increasingly sophisticated by adding real-time maintenance and vehicle usage data. Ford has announced that Crew Chief (from Ford and Telogis) helps fleets “improve fuel economy by 20%.” Crew Chief basically uses cellular connections to provide proprietary data from Ford computers in real-time and then provides a web dashboard that allows managers to understand what vehicle maintenance may be required. It also provides data on driver behavior, location, and routing information. The key to this is the proprietary data from the Ford vehicle computers. Other companies, such as Insight from Hino Trucks and Webtech, Fleet Director from Isuzu Trucks and Teletrac and Daimler’s FleetBoard in Europe, offer very similar products with access to their vehicles’ proprietary computer data.
So, if these telematics packages are similar, is the differentiation point the web dashboard or its ability to dig into the data better than another? OEMs are finding that by only permitting their system to access their proprietary computer codes they can offer a point of differentiation for their branded system. Ford’s Crew Chief ability to retrofit to older Ford vehicles does seem to have the advantage over some telematics packages (a good move on Ford’s part since there are so many Ford trucks currently in fleet service). But, since telematics is almost a requirement of fleets, fleet managers will need this kind of data for all brands in their fleet in order to ensure the entire fleet is optimized. Does that mean operating multiple systems? For the moment, to get this level of vehicle and engine performance detail, it appears so, though some packages do claim to read and monitor the vehicle computer codes to provide diagnostics, agnostic of brand.