Michelin is the latest company to enter the car telematics market with the launch of its Safe-&-Drive device at this month’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

A UK arrival date has not been confirmed at this stage; however, the device has been on sale in France since 21 August and prices start from ?139 (£125) on Michelin’s website, with a year’s subscription included.

Pricing details in the UK have not been confirmed at this stage, but a spokesman for the brand tells BusinessCar the device will operate on a monthly subscription-based model, though he adds there will be leeway for bulk order discounts. “Discounts for fleets will be negotiated as and when they renew their tyre deals,” the
spokesman says.

It is likely to appeal to SME fleets as well as grey fleet drivers and private motorists thanks to the relatively low cost and the plug-and-play element. However, Michelin’s spokesman says it is too early to indicate which markets the firm will target.

Measuring 34×34×63mm, the French tyre giant’s telematics device plugs into a car’s cigarette lighter socket, with the unit connecting to a free smartphone app.

“The Michelin Group’s power of innovation has ensured its success and legitimacy for 125 years,” says Jean-Dominique Senard, CEO of the Michelin Group. “It is an essential lever of excellence and one of the foundations of its strategy. Thanks to the curiosity, inventiveness and undeniable know-how of our researchers worldwide, the Michelin Group is strengthening its status as a technological leader and is not afraid to stand out from the competition.”

Although Michelin has a presence in the commercial vehicle telematics sector, this is the brand’s first foray into offering telematics for car drivers, and many of the features have been influenced by data from 6,000 German car drivers who have voluntarily been monitored by the firm for the past
three years.

From March 2018, all new cars have to be fitted with an emergency calling device – known as eCall – that will automatically alert the authorities in the event of an accident. The EU estimates the widespread roll-out of eCall could reduce the number of deaths that occur on European roads by 10%.

However, Michelin says drivers of current vehicles will not be able to benefit from this provision – hence the market introduction of Safe-&-Drive. “There are nearly 300 million cars in Europe, so many consumers will not be able to benefit from such
a device because they do not own a new car registered after 31 March 2018,” the brand said.

The device is equipped with an acceleration sensor that is capable of detecting sudden changes in vehicle speed. If a collision takes place, the black box has an algorithm that can determine the severity of the accident. It then transmits the collision data to the smartphone.

The app then sends the data to Michelin’s emergency call centre, along with the exact location of the vehicle, with a member of staff verifying actions that are needed – such as contacting the police, ambulance and fire services if necessary. Michelin says that if the driver does not respond to messages from the smartphone, back-up will be sent automatically.

Michelin will offer personal assistance features – such as a ‘find my car’ tool that records the last position of the vehicle when the phone and device disconnect and guides drivers to it. There will also be access to a dedicated call centre with assistants who can help guide drivers to the nearest petrol station, indicate car parks nearby, provide weather forecasts, update motorists on any traffic jams and also book tables at restaurants on behalf of the driver.