Company cars have remained largely untapped by telematics companies, despite more widespread adoption on commercial vehicles.
Organisations that have introduced the technology to their company cars have tended to do so because the vehicles are job-need rather than perk vehicles, with telematics being used for deployment purposes – for example, sending the nearest engineer to a job.
Perk vehicles are a different matter.
One of the biggest barriers has been the idea that telematics is a spy in the cab, although providers can give drivers the option of not sharing details of their private journeys.
For some businesses, the cost of fitting telematics to company cars is too high and they are unconvinced about the payback period.
Others see the time and resource required to analyse the data as too big a challenge.
But industry experts argue that things are changing and telematics, in one form or another, will be in most company cars in the near future. Not because fleet managers will necessarily choose to fit it, but because vehicle manufacturers are taking a greater interest.
Chris Chandler, principal consultant at Lex Autolease, points out that many premium vehicles already have black box telemetry that is able to record details of an accident, such as what speed the driver was doing and when they applied the brakes.
Standard fitment of the eCall system, whereby the car contacts the emergency services in the event of a crash, is also just around the corner.
A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “The European Commission has a long-held ambition that 2015 will be its target date for mandatory eCall.
“At the moment we are waiting for the mandatory proposals about how this will be implemented.
“When they are forthcoming, we’ll be able to take a decision about the implementation.”
In light of the EU proposals, a number of major manufacturers have revealed their eCall systems.
Ford has developed a mobile phone-based eCall system (Emergency Assistance), which is part of Ford Sync, its voice-activated control and connectivity technology.
Speaking at the 2012 Telematics Update conference, Duncan Burrell, manager of connected services, Ford of Europe, predicted that by 2015 Ford would have 3.5 million Sync-enabled vehicles on the road in Europe.
Sync has the potential to go beyond safety and entertainment features.
In America, drivers use it to request a vehicle health report, which includes system information and recommended actions for any displayed warning indicators, open recalls, Ford scheduled maintenance and unserviced maintenance and wear items from previous dealer visits – all services also offered by existing telematics units which plug into the vehicle’s engine management system.