28 Jan 21

How (fast) will fleets benefit from direct OEM data?

Some sources may have you believe that since all new cars leave the factory connected and OEMs are setting up data sharing agreements with telematics companies, telematics is available at the touch of a button. There is still quite a journey to be made, though.

Webfleet Solutions recently announced it established a data link with Mercedes-Benz vehicles, enabling Mercedes-Benz passenger cars and vans with in-built connectivity to connect with the company’s service platform Webfleet without the need for after-market hardware installations. It had previously secured a data connection with BMW and Mini.

That triggers an important question with many companies: can we leverage fleet management data from our vehicles without having to install OBD dongles or other hardware and have access to telematics at a reasonable cost? Especially leasing companies, which own hundreds of thousands of vehicles from up to 30 different brands, are likely to benefit from OEM-sourced data. Still, it’s not as straightforward as you may think.

“The vehicle manufacturers are embedding a telematics control unit onboard their vehicles that sends technical data up into a cloud environment. Through that environment, companies like Geotab can access that data. The ability to unify data across many different OEMs is incredibly important for fleets. Whether you operate 5, 50 or 500,000 vehicles, you want to leverage the data. And that is where the knowhow and experience from data driven telematics companies comes in,” says Edward Kulperger, Senior Vice President at Geotab EMEA.

One element to consider is that not all OEMs share the same data in the same frequency. Another is that not all vehicles of a fleet are connected.

“We don’t see aftermarket solutions becoming obsolete in the near future. Many customers of ours have a mixed fleet; fleets typically exist out of multiple vehicle types, from multiple vehicle manufacturers and of multiple vehicle ages. Vehicle data across different OEMs currently also differ and in order to have consistent vehicle telematics data, solutions like Webfleet can help solve this problem, whether it’s with our OEM.connect programme or our own telematics hardware,“ says Paul Verheijen, Webfleet Solutions’ Vice President Product Management.
“With our OEM.connect programme, we, as a telematics provider connect directly to the vehicle manufacturer on behalf of our customers to retrieve the vehicle data from the pre-installed telematics hardware. The exchanged data points can differ between OEMs. Customers can benefit from data insights like tracking and tracing the vehicle with vehicle status, mileage and location of the fleet, comprehensive vehicle insight reports, for example insights on the fleet’s fuel usage to improve fuel consumption or instant notifications around vehicle diagnostics, such as tyre pressure warnings to monitor the fleet’s health status in real-time.”

Partnership is the new innovation

As a connected vehicle company at its core, Geotab understands what type of data and the frequency of the data that these fleets want to receive it in. “We have been perfecting this for decades now and have even patented our methodology to extrapolate data from vehicles and provide it in the right context. Not all OEMs are sending data with the same granularity and frequency as fleets are used to. Think about fuel usage, state of charge, vehicle dynamics, driver behaviour, vehicle maintenance, routing, and so on. Geotab is working with many OEMs to help them accelerate their connected vehicle journey. They are great at building vehicles. Let companies like Geotab and others focus on their core business: the connected vehicle. Partnership is the new innovation and will make us all better,” Edward Kulperger explains.

“Once you start scaling up things, you are faced with certain challenges. What we are seeing is that most leasing companies are moving towards organisations that want to work with all the OEMs and unify and normalize the data from the OEMs so that the leasing company receive the data in a context that enables them to focus on their core business while optimising their operations as well as provide profit centres they didn’t previously have,” he concludes.

Picture copyright: Mercedes-Benz, 2021



Authored by: Dieter Quartier