Tomorrow's telematics (continued)
10 November 2008
Technology never stands still, and nowhere is this more evident than in the field of telematics. Tom Webster reports on the industry's latest developments
Good news for fleet managers is that the future should bring cheaper prices.
Technological advancement in non-western countries, where many telematics products are made, is leading to the reduction in manufacturing cost, and that should be passed on to the consumer.
"Technology's getting cheaper, and more accurate, with huge breakthroughs in, for example, batteries," says Digicore's O'Connor.
However, a reduction in cost is not only desirable for the consumer, it's of paramount importance to the producers themselves if they're to continue attracting custom, believes Quartix's Walters.
"In the past, when tracking cost approximately £1000, people just took the risk [and lived without it]," he says. In order to reduce cost, Quartix is "simplifying the installation, getting it down to a two-wire process".
O'Connor, too, says changes have to be made, and describes some pricing as "ridiculous".
Despite the telematics business being focussed on saving money, O'Connor believes tough times are still ahead for an industry that has to overcome not only current economic concerns, but also what fleet drivers, who complain of feeling spied upon, might refer to as a 'Big Brother' image problem.
"The reputation is improving, but I do think there will be fallout and consolidation," says O'Connor.
Consolidation, though, could mean good news for fleets, as it will ensure the companies that remain are the ones worth dealing with. As O'Connor points out: "It's not about buying a tracking box and some software, it's about picking a partner." If these firms have to fight to survive themselves, they will be fighting to provide the best service to your business.
While pricing will no doubt be a key driver for business, ALD Automotive's Yates feels Governments will prove to be influential in the advancement of telematics.
"Governments will make safety systems such as emergency calling mandatory in new cars," he says.
Other motivators will be insurance firms and car manufacturers, according to Yates.
"Insurance firms will provide discounts to drivers willing to install telematics systems to monitor behaviour and for stolen vehicle tracking," he says, while "car manufacturers will embrace the technology to enable remote diagnostics, which will reduce maintenance and repair costs".
What business car managers, however, are concerned with is not so much who or what provides the impetus behind any progress, but that they have better tools that cost less money with which to run their fleets. And to that end, telematics looks like it will continue to deliver.
ALD Automotive www.aldautomotive.co.uk
CMS SupaTrak www.supatrak.com
TomTom Work www.tomtomwork.com