THE arrival of telematics in the transport sector a decade ago transformed the balance sheets of bigger businesses, but equipment costs prevented the benefits being experienced by smaller players.
Now the latest technology with sophisticated hardware and wireless communications, is bringing down prices and leading to wider acceptance and adoption.
Telematics take-up in the UK fleet market could accelerate significantly, with Arval set to be the next contract-hire company to enter the fray.
ALD Automotive led the contract hire market into the telematics arena a decade ago, but since then only a handful of rivals have followed suit.
However, according to the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), the fleet industry – fleet managers, leasing companies and rental operators – will be largely responsible for ensuring that telematics reaches its full potential.
Essentially, the technology allows the remote management of a fleet of vehicles wherever they are, 24 hours a day, helping to cut costs, improve legislative compliance, reduce risk and boost business efficiency and productivity.
In addition to contract hire firms, telematics providers, insurance companies, motor manufacturers and telecoms specialists will have a huge influence on the rapidly growing market. But, as yet, the UK is perhaps five or 10 years away from any form of product harmonisation, according to insiders.
Fleet management consultant Professor Colin Tourick believes the rapidly changing telematics markets – falling hardware prices and the development of an increasing array of features – has resulted in some lessors holding back from forming partnerships with third party suppliers and waiting to see what emerges.
However, he added, “I have no doubt that this area will grow, that we will see more telematics systems installed and leasing companies and telematics companies will provide ever more integrated solutions, until we get to the situation where they will merge and offer seamless solutions.
“It is clear that for the right fleet the right telematics solution can deliver quite amazing benefits, including a reduction in fleet costs and risks, and a significant improvement in customer experience.”