Why 2020 is a good year for Targa Telematics
A cheeky question for Nicola de Mattia: Has the pandemic actually been good for business? “Well, certainly not in April and May, and not yet in June,” the CEO of Targa Telematics laughs. But COVID-19 is shifting the automotive paradigm in a direction that favours the solutions Targa offers; in that respect, its recent wide-ranging deal with FCA could be a sign of things to come.
To be fair, the deal with Fiat/Chrysler, which we reported on earlier, was negotiated in tempore non suspecto, before the outbreak of the coronavirus. But the 32-country deal is a good example of the Italy-based telematics company’s driving ambition to continue its growth beyond its native shores.
Under the deal, Targa will provide fleet management solutions for business customers, via an intuitive interface that is both remotely accessible and provides real-time insight and control. The deal covers all FCA models with connected capability in the EMEA region.
“We’re used to dealing with large OEMs. Not just car manufacturers and but also Piaggio, Ligier and Ducati Energia, for example. We also integrate data coming from the OEMs’ own boxes already on board. With FCA, we have a long-standing relationship. What makes this latest deal with them special for us, is the number of countries involved. This is a milestone in our internationalisation process,” says De Mattia (pictured).
It’s a process the company is working diligently to accelerate. Having recently opened offices in Paris and London, Targa will set up shop in Madrid in the second half of the year. Shortly afterwards, the company will cross the ocean to set up a subsidiary in Uruguay.
Level of involvement
The FCA deal is important not just because of its geographical scope, but also because of its level of involvement, says De Mattia: “It’s a deeper, more collaborative relationship than most. We provide the platform for our services via a black box, which is installed at their premises. It’s aftermarket, but only just. You could call it ‘near-manufacturing’.”
The launch of the ‘My Fleet Manager’ portal will proceed from September, not across all 32 markets at once, but in an order and at a pace chosen by FCA. Targa’s services fall into four categories: Fleet Optimisation, Cost Monitoring, Compliance and Road Safety. FCA will also offer proprietary content via the interface.
The portal is very much designed as an evolving platform for more and better services and solutions over time, whether from Targa or directly via FCA. Targa for its part prides itself on its expertise in terms of smart mobility and EV management. “We were an early provider of electric-vehicle management, so we have a lot of specific expertise in that field,” says De Mattia. “For example, we can analyse the composition of your fleet to determine which vehicles are good candidates for electrification.”
In fact, here we come close to Targa’s USP: “Like all our solutions, our EV management is designed as an end-to-end product, but not only. It’s part of our offer of an open mobility platform that is specifically designed towards sharing new types of mobility. We’re ideally suited for the quick pace at which today’s market is evolving, because we are a native service provider. We didn’t start out as a hardware producer, and then decided to start doing something else.”
That has consequences for what Targa offers, and to whom. Says De Mattia: “What differentiates us, is that our platform is hardware-agnostic. And because all our software is designed internally native split in microservices, it’s essentially software-agnostic too and it is able to support any different internal project or service launch by the mobility operators in several ways. I would say our main customer targets are the big, international fleets, but our products are ideally suited also to medium-sized ones. This is unlike most of our competitors, who focus on the B2B2C market, or on smaller fleets of up to 20 vehicles.”
And because large fleets are the default audience, their strict requirements in terms of server security are built into all of Targa’s products. Providing sturdy foundations for a corporate fleet telematics platform to dispense flexible solutions, is a smart strategy in any period. But especially now: “We’re seeing that lease companies are responding to the needs of their customers by offering increasingly flexible solutions. All that has to be built on telematics. And we provide the right foundations to do so,” says De Mattia.
So, despite a few tough months in the first half of the year, the pandemic may yet turn 2020 into a good year for Targa Telematics.