Challenging economic conditions mean businesses are looking to utilise every tool in their armoury to deliver cost savings, lower CO2 emissions and productivity improvements.
Telematics technology, which embraces a vast suite of fleet management reports, is a solution increasingly being adopted by fleets.
Yet Giles Margerison, director of UK and Ireland for TomTom Business Solutions, calculates that telematics is fitted to just 20-25% of trucks and 15-20% of vans, and less than 1% of the company car and grey fleet market.
He says: “The arguments around the return on investment and Big Brother spying on drivers have been won.
"Penetration of the LCV sector is growing rapidly. The corporate car market is the biggest sector by far and we are witnessing more activity. Where systems are being deployed we are not seeing an adverse reaction from drivers.”
The major catalyst, according to Margerison, as to why fleets are introducing telematics technology is to cut soaring fuel bills. However, he also points to a desire to cut drivers’ hours and therefore overtime claims, improve customer service and productivity and boost driver safety.
Additionally, an emerging reason for fleets turning to telematics systems is HM Revenue & Customs’ increasing focus on auditing business mileage claims.
Margerison says: “Reports suggest that 70% of employees over-claim on business mileage so HMRC mileage checks are proving to be a catalyst for telematics growth.”
He adds: “The cost base for business is rising but in the current economic climate companies find it very difficult to increase their charges and making staff redundant is a last resort.
"Therefore, cost savings are being sought in other areas of the business and the fitting of telematics/tracking systems delivers financial benefits.”
From an environmental perspective, actions that reduce fuel consumption, such as eliminating speeding, harsh acceleration and idling, also reduce CO2 emissions. Companies can therefore save money while at the same time displaying their green credentials.
Telematics systems that include routing software and sat-nav can further assist fleets in meeting their environmental responsibilities by ensuring vehicles travel from A to B in the most efficient way.
This also improves productivity.
And it helps ensure vehicles that are delivering goods and services are used as infrequently as possible, reducing duplicated journeys by effectively planning the day’s schedule.
Andy Walters, managing director of telematics provider Quartix, says this desire to improve productivity is the chief reason for businesses turning to telematics.