Currently reading: How can fleets benefit from connected vehicles?
Richer vehicle data could unlock improved efficiency for operators

The internet of things – the vast global network of smart devices sharing information – is expanding quickly.

IOT Analytics predicts that it will almost double in size from 14.4 billion devices in 2022 to 27 billion in 2025, and connected vehicles are an important contributor.

Fleets, which operate the newest vehicles on the road, will be the earliest adopters.

Epyx, which counts four million cars and vans on its 1Link fleet-management platforms, says 76% of combustion-engined and 97% of electric vehicles registered by customers are already connected; and predicts that by the middle of the decade, non-connected fleet vehicles will be rare.

How is access to vehicle data improving?

Matt Waller, director of connected car at Epyx parent company Fleetcor, cites several reasons for improving data provision.

The eCall SOS system became a mandatory part of type approvals in March 2018, which means most new models have a built-in SIM card.

Connected features, such as cabin pre-conditioning, charging functions and battery health checks, are desirable for EVs.

Bandwidth is increasing as 4G and 5G coverage becomes more widespread.

Legislation, such as the EU’s incoming Data Act, is recognising the societal value of having standards for sharing and accessing this data.

In turn, over-the-air software updates, subscription-based service and other revenue streams have become “low-hanging fruit”, Waller said, and vehicles’ raw data could have operational benefits for fleets if packaged and presented effectively.

Why should fleets be interested in connected car data?

Epyx is trialling a connected car solution focused initially on light commercial vehicle (LCV) fleets, where Waller says operational costs are highest and potential savings are greater.

Vans tend to offer car-like connectivity but with easier interoperability between brands. 

More than half (55%) of LCVs on the 1Link Service Network have readily accessible data – a legacy, perhaps, of the wider use of telematics in vans.

The 1Link platforms automate fleet management throughout a vehicle lifecycle, from procurement to remarketing, through maintenance, repairs and sourcing hire cars.

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Waller believes that utilising data from connected cars and vans will offer further automation and insights, such as identifying vehicles needing urgent maintenance, actions impacting residual values and roles for EVs.

However, he warned that operators should consider privacy and security challenges when they consider solutions. 

“Fleets should be speaking to a qualified partner to understand factors such as which manufacturers are sharing data, the level of data available on a model-by-model basis and the cost of accessing relevant data,” he explained.

How will connected cars change fleet telematics?

Waller expects connected cars to gradually replace aftermarket telematics hardware, such as black boxes. However, he believes that fleets will combine both technologies in the short to medium term.

“There will be an evolution towards the high level of granularity and targeted use cases that connected vehicles provide," he said. "Rather than needing to justify the upfront costs of a telematics deployment, fleets will enjoy more flexibility created by solutions that can be moulded around [their] specific requirements.

“For example, an all-EV car subscription business will have very different challenges to a courier LCV fleet, and the most interesting data that can be drawn from each vehicle will vary.”

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