Blog post

Telematics for Fleets: Making Sense of and Cents from Vehicle Data

It’s time for OEMs, telematics service providers, and fleet managers to put location and vehicle data to better use

October 21, 2022

9 mins read

The entire automotive industry already generates over one zettabyte (ZB) of data per year. To put that into context, it’s 2,000 times as much data as the current Spotify song catalog (which is a modest 0.0005 zettabytes).

By 2030, one connected autonomous vehicle will produce up to a zettabyte of data per day.

Fleet managers are no strangers to data, but not everyone realizes the scale and impact of modern telematics systems — location-aware, cloud-connected, and integrated with other fleet management products.

If you’ve been wondering about the tangible value behind telematics technology, this post breaks it down for you.

What is telematics and how does it generate value?

Telematics is a combination of telecom and IT technologies used for exchanging and storing information from remote objects such as vehicles.

Fun fact: Simon Nora and Alain Minc coined the term telematics in 1978 during their briefing of the French Prime Minister on the upcoming “informatization of society.”

Today, telematics is mostly discussed in the context of fleet management.
First-generation vehicle telematics systems were external onboard diagnostics (OBD) devices, coupled with GPS technology. Their main features were vehicle tracking and near real-time navigation management.

Since the 1990s, when GPS technologies hit the consumer market, telematics systems have rapidly gained traction in both the B2C and B2B segments. By 2000, telematics companies had secured the first million users, and growth accelerated from there.

In 2021, some 95 million aftermarket telematics devices were sold globally. That’s on top of another 130 million embedded OEM telematics units in operation worldwide as of 2020.

Modern fleet telematics platforms consist of:

  • Onboard telematics hardware such as OBD-II, Bluetooth-powered, black-box, IoT-based, and embedded telematics units
  • Telematic software — a cloud-based platform for processing vehicle data and using it for remote fleet management

An onboard fleet telematics system can collect an array of vehicle-specific and driver-behavior-based data on things such as vehicle location, speed, harsh braking, fuel consumption, and engine performance. It can then transmit the data via 4G/5G networks for processing. A centralized server analyzes the data and delivers it as insights to end users (fleet managers).

Telematics data can be used for improving:

In practice, this translates into positive business outcomes.

The city of Boston managed to save $5 million per year by adopting telematics for fleet management. To optimize school bus routes, the city used algorithmic suggestions from their new telematics platform.

This tool produced a system-level route map in half an hour that was 20% more efficient than one created by hand. The city managed to retire 50 legacy buses without hindering riders’ experience. School buses also drove fewer miles using the new routes, resulting in lower carbon emissions and major operating savings that were reinvested in classroom initiatives.

Zoetis, America’s largest producer of animal pharmaceutical products, harnessed a 15% fuel savings after investing in telematics technology. They also significantly reduced accident rates and traffic violations among their drivers.

Intellias, in turn, helped another US fleet operator deploy a cloud-based telematics platform capable of processing data from some 100,000 vehicles with data points refreshed every 30 seconds. From convenient and customizable dashboards, fleet managers can get real-time data on fuel consumption, CO2 emissions, vehicle maintenance statuses, driver route adherence, and more.

The bottom line: Telematics for fleets makes good things happen, so it’s no wonder the market remains hot for innovation.

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Fleet telematics solutions: Market size and adoption rates

Overall, telematics adoption rates among commercial fleets remain under 50%, with North America leading the race at 31% to 38% penetration.

Fleet telematics installed base and penetration, North America, Europe, and Australia, 2020

 

North America Europe Australia
Installed base 10.1-12.3 Million 9.6-11.5 Million 1-1.1 Million
Percentage Penetration 31 -38% 21 -23% 19 -22%

 

Source: Fleet Complete — Unpacking 2021 for Fleet Telematics in North America, Europe, and Australia

Yet adoption is picking up speed. The global fleet telematics market is set to expand from $72.78 billion in 2022 to $213.67 billion by 2029.

The telematics market is split between two key players — aftermarket telematics service providers (TSPs) and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Aftermarket fleet telematics systems come in different types:

  • Black-box telematics devices
  • Smartphone-based telematics devices
  • Bluetooth-powered telematics devices
  • OBD-II port telematics devices
  • Video telematics systems

Though aftermarket TSPs currently hold a bigger market share, the tide is changing. Connected cars are hitting the pavement in the thousands, rendering external telematics devices unnecessary.

Over half (51%) of new cars sold globally in 2019 had OEM embedded telematics systems, up from 38% in 2018. North America has the largest OEM penetration rate of 62%, followed by the EU+EFTA region at 61%.

Berg Insight

GM, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, VW, FCA Group, Volvo, Toyota/Lexus, Renault, and Tesla already deploy embedded telematics in their latest passenger and commercial vehicle models. Some automakers also heavily lean on telematics services to accelerate adjacent business lines such as shared mobility programs and usage-based insurance (UBI) offerings.

PTOLEMUS forecasts that 83% of all new on- and off-road vehicles will have embedded driver telematics by 2024. In 2030, the number of OEM-based fleet telematics subscriptions is expected to increase sixfold, reaching 150 million.

By 2030 OEMs will reach parity with TSPs in the telematics fleet management services market. The fastest growth will come from Asia Pacific, which will expand twice as fast as Europe and North America.

PTOLEMUS

That said, aftermarket TSPs still hold a strong position in the commercial sector and will retain a double-digit market share, since consumers don’t rush to retire existing devices.

Among 2021 Fleet Complete survey respondents, 73% of light-duty fleet operators and 68% of heavy-duty fleet operators showed interest in using a combination of OEM-supplied telematics hardware for some vehicles and aftermarket hardware for others.

Additionally, TSPs will retain an upper hand in complementary products for:

  • Video telematics. Bidirectional video telematics is one of the fastest-growing market segments. Both OEMs and TSPs will continue investment in low-latency video solutions for monitoring in-cabin driver behavior and various driver-assist systems (for parking, navigating in poor conditions, etc.).
  • Anti-theft and truck monitoring products. Asset theft remains a pressing problem in developing markets — and an emerging issue for carsharing operators. In the UK, the volume of vehicle thefts doubled in 2021 compared to the previous year, with criminals going after more expensive vehicle models. TSPs provide a range of comprehensive anti-theft solutions, ranging from jamming resistance geo-trackers to more sophisticated stolen vehicle recovery products.
  • Value-add solutions. Digital freight marketplaces and shared mobility solutions open up new revenue streams for fleet operations in North America, Europe, and Australia. Telematics data plays a core role in facilitating deeper ecosystem-like partnerships between mobility players and adjacent industries, from logistics to urban transportation.

Finally, fleet management software is a separate major market that’s rapidly coming of age thanks to advances in big data analytics, machine learning, and computer vision.

What data is captured by telematics systems?

The big promise behind telematics for vehicles is access to granular data. Both TSP and OEM telematics systems can collect the following:

  • Location data: GPS timestamp, speed, vehicle direction, etc.
  • Trip data: Time spent on location, driving time, idle time, distance traveled, speeding, route adherence, etc.
  • Vehicle status data: Ignition on/off, odometer value, battery voltage, RPM, fuel level, fuel consumption, harsh acceleration, harsh braking, etc.
  • Electric vehicle (EV) status data: Vehicle mileage, state of charge, electric range, battery voltage, remaining charging time, state of health (SoH), mileage to service, regenerative braking, etc.
  • Driver data: Driver ID, vehicle identification number (VIN), wheel-based speed, cruise control use, accelerator pedal position, engine load, axle weight, brake switch, etc.
  • Vehicle maintenance data: OBD diagnostic trouble codes, failure type information, status information, PIDs, ECU information, etc.

Thanks to the commoditization of IoT devices (sensing technologies), there’s little limit on the type of telematics data you can collect.

But apart from the hardware, you also need telematics software to make sense of the collected data.

All collected vehicle data is decoded and transmitted to a telematics fleet management app for analysis and subsequent business intelligence. Depending on the sophistication, a fleet management app can employ either standard (statistical) big data analytics approaches or be programmed to generate predictive insights with the help of machine learning.

Big data analytics and machine learning offer a plethora of opportunities for monetizing telematics data. For example, we’ve helped our fleet management clients create analytical systems for:

Telematics for fleets: What to look for when investing in new solutions?

A telematics system is hardware plus software.

On the hardware level, you should first assess OEM-supplied solutions and data. Then look into complementary TSP offerings.

Business goals should drive your hardware decisions. Think about specific outcomes you’d want to achieve: reduce fuel consumption, optimize dispatch schedules, hit green fleet benchmarks.

Based on your operating goals, you can then formalize specific telematics use cases. For example, real-time vehicle tracking, geofencing, multi-stop route modeling and optimization, or predictive maintenance.

Here’s why other fleet operators invest in telematics for trucks.

Key reasons for investing in fleet telematics

Telematics for Fleets: Making Sense of and Cents from Vehicle Data

Source: Fleet Complete — Unpacking 2021 for Fleet Telematics in North America, Europe, and Australia

Afterwards, strategize: Which data do you already have access to? (e.g. vehicle location data from onboard sensors) Which data streams can be accessed via integrations? (e.g. real-time road traffic data) Which data nuggets are you missing? (e.g. harsh acceleration, braking, cornering data by driver). Once you know which data you lack, you can make more weighted choices on telematics hardware.

Next, start thinking about your fleet management software platform — a cloud-based system for processing collected insights and converting them into operational intelligence. Turn broader use cases into specific features for:

  • Operations — Truck dispatching, route building, schedule optimization, fuel management, etc.
  • Safety — Driver scorecards, road condition alerts, driver route adherence, etc.
  • ComplianceElectronic driver logs (ELDs), IFTA fuel tax reporting, carbon footprint calculations, etc.
  • Maintenance — Vehicle diagnostics, spare parts ordering, asset performance benchmarking, etc.

To create some of these features, you may also need extra data from third-party systems and open APIs. Hence, you should plan for the system’s expandability, or the ability to integrate more data from external systems (such as ERPs) and devices (such as smartphones).

Intellias recently helped one of our clients deploy a new fleet management platform. The solution processes data from IoT devices installed in trucks to deliver insights on vehicle location, driver performance, idling times, and fuel consumption, among other parameters. This data alone provides ample opportunities for improving fleet performance and locating cost-saving opportunities.

Separately, our team has developed a freight search module — an integration-based feature for searching for aggregated freight orders from multiple carriers. Using this feature, drivers can be routed to pick up an extra load on their way to fill up free space. That’s just one example of how expandable fleet management platforms can add value to fleet operations.

Telematics adoption creates a network effect of benefits

The proliferation of telematics hardware enables fleet managers to pursue more complex use cases, from creating predictive maintenance schedules to setting the stage for (semi-)autonomous electric fleet operations.

What’s more, the scale and impact of telematics benefits rise in proportion to the number of adoptees.

Telematics benefits depending on scale

Telematics for Fleets: Making Sense of and Cents from Vehicle Data

Source: McKinsey — Telematics poised for strong global growth

As we are entering the stage where ADAS systems are installed by default and connected cars are the dominant vehicle type, fleet managers will soon be able to gain even more value from their investments.

By putting down plans to develop a robust fleet management platform today, you’re assuming a better position for the era of smart mobility when:

  • roads are safer
  • congestion is optimized
  • commercial players collaborate with city authorities on optimal routes

…and new opportunities for value generation become available through shared asset usage, smarter leasing, telematics-based insurance, and other promising revenue streams.

In other words: Investments in telematics for fleets can bring short-term ROI and long-term competitive advantage in the rapidly evolving mobility market.


Contact Intellias to learn how your company can leverage telematics for safer, leaner, and greener operations.

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