17 Nov 16

Fleet Europe Forum 2016: Visions of the future in the Start-up Corner

Preparation of the room for the forum and awards

New technology companies had a unique platform to share their ideas wth fleet decision makers at the Fleet Europe Forum 2016 in Barcelona, on 16 November. 

The inaugural Start-up Corner at the Fleet Europe Forum showcased cutting edge thinking across several areas of fleet, mobility and safety management. Hi-tech innovators revealed systems that range from aftermarket advanced driver assist systems that can dramatically reduce fleet accident figures, to smart crash reporting when collisions do occur.

Specialist start-ups are also developing sophisticated systems to solve issues experienced by early adopters of car sharing schemes. From artificial intelligence to predict vehicle usage patterns, so critical for car share companies to ensure they have the right volume of vehicles in the right places, to customised vehicle condition reports, so important to avoid or resolve conflict between drivers of shared vehicles, the Start-up Corner held the answers to so many challenges facing the wider industry.

As a B2B2C platform, fleetbutler helps corporate customers reduce the cost of their pool and car share vehicles, and deliver an employee benefit to all members of staff. The system allows businesses to hire out company cars to employees for private use, typically during out-of-office hours. This generates revenue that can be shared by the vehicle provider (a leasing company or rental company) and the company itself, which can be offset against the monthly rental. “There’s no risk to anyone, because the car provider still gets the same money from the corporate client, and if an employee uses the vehicle privately the car provider gets some of the money and some goes to the corporate,” said Lena Schwartz, head of fleetbutler. 

More than 500,000 drivers now have the Assisto app, which simplifies the claim and repair process after a crash, on their smartphone. The app digitally co-ordinates the aftermath of an accident, sending a driver’s contact and insurance policy details to his insurer, leasing company and vehicle repairer. It also provides the driver with a list of approved bodyshops in the area, so he can select the most convenient. ALD is already using the system in two countries, while a major insurer has adopted it in Luxembourg and Hungary.

“The system can provide all the information the repairer needs, including photos of the damage, the VIN, the name and contact details of the driver, in real time,” said Alexandre Heinekens, sales manager, Assisto.

Due to launch in Denmark in 2017, Spiri brings a completely new approach to car sharing. Using exclusively electric vehicles - the company is even in the process of developing its own, robust electric model - Spiri offers a free ride to the driver. But there’s a catch… the driver is then expected to give a lift to a fee-paying passenger. Spiri is effectively crowd-sourcing drivers, who will collect and deliver the cars at an urban hub, and who are prepared to share the journey.

Road safety concerns are mounting over the risk faced by drivers distracted by their smartphones. The Freeedrive app combats this danger by cautioning drivers each time they handle their phone while behind the wheel. The app identifies when the phone is in a moving vehicle, via Bluetooth system, and senses when it is being hand-held - hands free use (such as satellite navigation) is unaffected. At the end of the journey, the app gives the driver a safety score, based on hand-held use of the phone. It also has the capacity to amalgamate driver records into a dashboard for fleet managers, who can then identify the best and worst performing drivers, said Jan-Pieter Cootjans, managing partner, Freeedrive.

The focus of the app is on changing behaviour, rather than attempting to block the use of apps while driving.

“There are always ways around blocking apps, but it only takes about 10 days to change a habit,” said Cootjans.

FleetMaster provides cloud-based fleet management solutions to rental and leasing companies, as well as end user fleets. The USP of the technology is its ability to integrate with client’s multiple IT systems, making it far more flexible than in-house, premise-based solutions. It also delivers access to fleet data wherever decision makers need it.

“It’s developed for the fleet owner who has to deal with a lot of dynamic planning, costs and invoices,” said Tom Coene, partner, FleetMaster.

Electric Feel
Zurich-based Electric Feel uses artificial intelligence to provide a solution to the problem faced by every car share company: how to ensure they have the right volume of vehicles in the right places to maintain their customer service. The technology works with any sharing-based scheme, whether cars, bikes or scooters, but the cost savings are most significant with cars. Between 50-70% of the operational expenses of bike sharing are due to rebalancing the fleet, said Moritz Meenen, founder and CEO, Electric Feel, and the expenses are even higher for cars, because it’s one driver per car, whereas a van or lorry can collect several bikes in one journey.

“We predict where the demand will be in the next 24 hours, using self-learning algorthithms,” said Meenen.

Armed with this data, car share companies can then introduce control systems, such as dynamic pricing, to influence user behaviour and create a better geographical balance of fleet. The technology can also help operators define the perimeter of a geofence around their car share fleets.

Fleets of vehicles with multiple drivers all face one common problem - establishing who is responsible for any damage caused. WeProov is a start-up with the answer, an app that makes it easy for a driver to create a vehicle condition report before starting his journey. The data collected can be customised by the vehicle owner, whether a fleet, rental company or car share scheme, but would typically include mileage, fuel status, tyre condition, any damage, as well as the driver’s name and contact details. It also prompts drivers to take appropriate photos to back up their report.

The beauty of the system is the incentive that a driver has to protect himself from future accusations of being responsible for vehicle damage, and for the useful management information it allows fleet managers (or car pool companies) to collect, said Alexandre Meyer from WeProov.

It’s a stretch to describe Mobileye as a start-up, given that the $8 billion company launched in 1999 and works with all the major car manufacturers on advanced driver assist systems. But while fleets wait for ADAS to be specified as standard on new vehicles, Mobileye’s collision avoidance solution is available now as an aftermarket product. The system provides several crash-preventing alerts, including a forward collision warning, safe distance warning, speed limit indicator and traffic signal recognition, pedestrian and cyclist collision warning, and lane departure alert. Importantly, as an aftermarket fit, the system is ready to be installed now, and cannot be disabled by the driver.

Gil Ayalon, project manager, Mobileye, cited accident statistics that 93% of crashes are caused by human error, and that 80% of these could be avoided if the driver had just three seconds warning.

“So you need technology to help with that,”  said Ayalon. “Fleets can achieve a return on investment in six to 12 months.”

Authored by: Jonathan Manning