Editor's choice
15 Sep 20

Connectivity, because savings potential exceeds cost

Whilst the mobility hype is slowly turning into a more formalised offering, the next must-have and 2020 buzzword-of-the-year is connectivity. Events such as the Connected Fleets Conference attract an increasing amount of attendees, triggered by the potential of new tech in the Fleet & Mobility industry.

Connectivity is not “telematics light”

It comes down to turning a vehicle into an asset that is able to communicate digitally with other assets, systems, city grids, traffic and much more. The vehicle sends and receives data pack- ages that are translated by a variety of applications into practical improve- ments in the area of fleet management, safety, efficiency, fuel consumption...

Connectivity is built into many modern vehicles but can be retrofitted in virtu- ally any vehicle with an OBD device. Cost is minimal: an OBD plug-in can be purchased for less than €50 and applications are free or available at a low cost.

The main difference with telematics is the fact that telematics add geolocat- ing to the equation, in other words, it will add the exact location of the asset into the data packages.

Smart applications

“Data is the new oil” is an expression that most of us have heard. The anal- ogy between data and oil goes a bit further: money doesn’t come from the oil itself; it is generated by refine- ment and distribution. Same is true for data: raw data needs to be translated into information and this has become a new business line in the automotive industry; we have now data collecting, consolidating, hosting, processing and selling. The old supply chain (OEMs, leasing industry...) is heavily invested in the data business and are joined by a group of new suppliers, often start-ups, trying to make money out of vehicle data.

Some interesting applications are Mercedes me connect and OviDrive. Mercedes hands out OBD devices that connect into the mobile phone. The car owner receives some bene- fits: the mobile app displays, for example, the fuel level, a find-my-car functionality and users can benefit from promotions. In the background, Mercedes collects user and vehicle data. Mercedes has found the right balance between privacy and benefit; everything has a price and users have agreed that the features of the app justify giving up part of their privacy.

The OviDrive Fleet Management tool uses a similar configuration: the app acts as the digital passport of the driver, connects directly into the vehi- cle and uses the exchange of informa- tion between car and driver to improve corporate fleet management. Any car covered by the OviDrive OS car is able to raise work orders (maintenance, tires...) by itself to register mileage and create logbooks and it can be used as a shared asset and much more. The benefits are spread between user and Fleet Manager, as the system is in its core a tool to enhance efficiencies and reduce cost.

Beneficial for your TCO

Indeed. The investment is very low, even for high-spec systems such as OviDrive, and the return is impressive.

It has a direct impact on the operating cost of a fleet, on driver behavior and on cost efficiencies. Moving forward, connectivity will become the stand- ard and we can expect loads of appli- cations that will make our lives easier. IoT is a reality – why not join early?

Read all articles about the Electric & Connected Supertheme

Image: Mercedes me connect (copyright: Mercedes-Benz)

Authored by: Yves Helven