Telematics bring new capabilities to light-duty fleets

Onboard telematics bring new capabilities to light-duty fleets

Telematics solutions are rapidly becoming a growing trend with light-duty fleets, as they begin to require more detailed views of their vehicles to more efficiently manage operations.

For an example, just look at this recent announcement by General Motors: GM has launched a new platform specifically designed for small businesses to access key vehicle information such as location, fuel level, miles driven and maintenance needs. The new GM vehicle management service, known as Commercial Link, uses data provided by embedded OnStar hardware on a range of 2015 model year and newer vehicles.

Commercial Link gives fleet customers with an active OnStar account instant access to vehicle information through a website for $10 per vehicle per month. A Commercial Link mobile app will also be available this summer for both Android and Apple devices.

With Commercial Link, users can monitor the current location or route of any registered vehicle and access its location history, fuel consumption rates and vehicle speeds and receive service notifications. Also available are fuel efficiency reports, including consolidated reporting for analysis purposes. Commercial Link can be customized to personalize account dashboards and users have the ability to set up have the ability to send email and text message alerts if a vehicle is low on fuel or requires maintenance.

“Our customers are always looking for ways to increase the productivity of their vehicles, while at the same time saving money,” said Ed Peper, the U.S. vice president for General Motors Fleet. “Commercial Link is going to give them an up-to-date component so that they are always in touch with their vehicles’ performance and location.”

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Fleets operating a range of 2009 and newer Ford vehicles can use the Ford Telematics cloud-based fleet management solution. Included are Super Duty and F-150 pickups, as well as Transit full-size, Transit Connect and E-Series vans. The system is also now available on 2016 model year F-650/F-750 trucks.

Powered by Telogis, the system (previously known as Crew Chief) now includes real-time analytics and communications capabilities. Ford Telematics works by using built-in hardware to collect vehicle performance data in real time and processes it on a secure web-based application from Telogis.

The suite of Ford Telematics applications includes integrated workflow and information gateways that connect fleet managers and vehicles, and it presents data in real time and in customizable reports and dashboards to monitor vehicle and driver operations. The system, according to Ford, streamlines service management with automated reminders about necessary maintenance based on the actual condition of the vehicle.

OnStar 4G LTE allows workers to utilize their vehicle as a mobilIn-cab alerts with Ford Telematics provide audible feedback to drivers on harsh acceleration, hard braking, and excessive speed and idle time. Optional is Telogis Coach, a driver feedback mobile application for Android or iOS devices.

“With the launch of Ford Telematics, we renew our commitment to providing a mission-critical platform on which customers can manage every aspect of their mobile business,” said Susan Heystee,
executive vice president of worldwide sales at Telogis. “The key benefits to customers are improved workforce utilization and fleet productivity using built in technology.”

Manufacturers are also building in connectivity to help ensure that on-board telematics communicate effectively. In addition to Commercial Link, for example, most 2015 model year and newer GM vehicles have been equipped with OnStar 4G LTE, which provides a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot for up to seven mobile devices. The Wi-Fi hotspot works in and around the vehicle when it is running or in accessory mode, such as when drivers utilize their vehicles as mobile offices, allowing them to send and receive emails while parked at job sites.

With more in-vehicle technologies and connected services appearing in the GM lineup, the company has hired a team of Fleet and Commercial Connected Vehicle Specialists.

Connected vehicles offer a range of benefits to light-duty commercial fleets. As Raj Nair, Ford’s chief technical officer and group vice president of global product development, said: “Commercial trucks have to be more than delivery boxes on wheels, and innovations like Ford Telematics are critical to helping our fleet customers succeed.”

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