29 Mar 22

"Fleet managers should not be afraid to apply telematics"

The Connected Fleets Conference, held in Amsterdam on 28 and 29th March, welcomed fleets managers with a rousing opening session by the founding partners including Agnès Van De Walle, Arval Connect Director, Fabian Seithel, Associate Vice President - Sales & Business Development, Geotab and David Brazell, Channel Sales Director - EMEA, Lytx

Promoting the theme "Sustainable and Connected", Fleet Europe Editor-in-Chief Steven Schoefs underlined the aim of the Conference as "strengthening the vision of fleet managers towards sustainability amid great challenges." Schoefs stated: "We are witnessing a race towards a sustainable system in the automotive industry. We inspire fleet managers and suppliers to embrace connectivity for a smooth transition to electric and zero-emission goals. Connectivity and sustainability complement and reinforce each other."

Connected: All the benefits of telematics and leasing

When asked about the true benefits of telematics Van De Walle asserted: "It brings forward three aspects of connected fleets: optimising the total cost of ownership (TCO), making a fleet safer and more sustainable, plus connected technology is the right lever to push fleets towards these goals, but there are many more connectivity offers."

When a fleet is interfaced with a leasing system, fleet managers also access mentored rental services and enjoy the advantages of connected maintenance, connected contract management and connected insurance. When fleets are connected to these services, benefits come in the form of a smooth transition to electrification for improving driver safety and all aspects of efficiency increase.

"For me," Van De Walle added, "connected fleet constitutes all the benefits of telematics and leasing."

Adopting telematics will also help fleet managers out of a "chicken-and-egg" situation. With more than 2.6 million vehicles connected to their platform, Fabian Seithel underlines the surging fuel prices since the beginning of 2022. As the fuel prices appear to be a priority for fleet managers, they face a significant challenge in investing in telematics to deal with it. Seithel takes note of the advantage of telematics in decreasing fuel costs, which appear to be 15-18% on average in fleets. Applying telematics will also increase savings in a time of surging prices. 

Yet, telematics has much more to offer, with innovations appearing as "sustainability disruption", according to David Brazell: "We provide video for good; to save lives", he stated. "The important thing is that video telematics emphasises human resources while supporting sustainability. The added value of a video system is safety, even strengthening the benefits of telematics." 

Where to start? 

According to the data gathered from 400,000 connected vehicles, Van De Walle says on average, 30% of vehicles can be electrified. For some clients, this number goes up to 80%. Additionally, Van De Walle says inflation will also impact fleet costs in 2022 by around 5-10%, which doesn't appear as a post-covid effect. The solid lever for tackling these challenges is also telematics. 

Telematics is the best technology to start electrification, but this process depends on the characteristics of each fleet, says Seithel. In his words, electrification is a rational topic that cannot be handled emotionally. Vehicle analysis must be performed when considering savings and product optimisation towards sustainability. Otherwise, a gas-fueled car can be more beneficial than an idle EV. 

"GDPR helps to understand privacy better" 

"More information is always better", says Van De Walle. But privacy is a challenge to deploy telematics. Nevertheless, communication and applying a wide range of privacy tools will help fleets install telematics. 

Seithel believes the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has helped the fleet ecosystem understand privacy. While there are still many misconceptions about privacy, its rules are manageable. Many city councils are against telematics due to privacy concerns, but as the unignorable facts like saving lives come forward, misconceptions will dissipate. 

For instance, in the European Union, Portugal and Austria don't allow cameras to be installed on windshields. According to Brazell, the key to understanding here is actually the privacy of data. Concerns have to overcome the uncertainty of "who processes the data and who is authorised to analyse it?" Providing configurability will eventually help telematics to be adopted. 

"AI is just the tip of the iceberg"

Mobility is another trend that can't be overlooked in the ecosystem. "We see connectivity and mobility as key components of fleet management and investing a lot in both," says Van De Walle. Arval develops many in-house solutions and forms partnerships to expand its solutions' reach. If telematics's wide set of benefits is leveraged to address privacy concerns, the adaptability will increase. 

And where is Europe in this broad picture? Europe is a focal point in terms of sustainability and mobility, Seithel highlights. Geotab is increasingly active in Europe as it is strategically important for mobility evolution. To see how technology can help manage sustainability, Europe is the spearhead of the change while being a hotbed for innovation. 

And what about the future?

According to Brazell, video telematics will be needed in the coming decades, and the critical development will be convergence. Increasingly more connected vehicles and data are analysed from fleet management and operational perspectives. Many brands with different hardware will eventually lead to a single point where data is converged. During this time, video telematics will also coach autonomous vehicle (AV) technology. Furthermore, artificial intelligence (AI) is just scratching the surface. Says Brazell: "Today, we are using handheld devices, but there will be lots of discoveries to follow in the years to come." 

The main photo shows Agnès Van De Walle, Arval Connect Director (left), Fabian Seithel, Associate Vice President - Sales & Business Development, Geotab (centre); David Brazell, Channel Sales Director, EMEA, Lytx (right), courtesy of Fleet Europe.

Authored by: Mufit Yilmaz Gokmen