Fleet News

Telematics systems put on trial

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The cost of having company cars on the road has come under scrutiny at many organisations over the past two years.

After depreciation, the next biggest cost to a company is fuel, and monitoring and managing driver behaviour could help show fleets where further savings can be made.

If the difficult economic climate has forced companies to make staff redundant, and those staff use company vehicles, ditching telematics as well as cutting back on the size of the fleet could be seen by some as a way of making further savings.

Given the impact of the credit crisis followed by a deep recession on the telematics industry itself, it may be understandable if a company is cautious about investing in a tracking system for its fleet when so many suppliers have found the going tough and some have not survived.

Those companies that are still around would argue that they have weathered the storm and are in it for the long term.

And there are long lists of testimonials showing how fleets have saved significant amounts of cash through tracking systems, so on balance it would seem that correct utilisation of telematics systems would still result in long-term savings for fleet operators.

But there are likely to be further benefits for companies beyond savings in fuel costs.

The systems can help monitor CO2 levels and allow organisations to meet and maintain environmental commitments or targets.

Using telematics systems is also claimed to increase productivity, improve safety, enable better customer service and ultimately improve the profitability of companies.

Driver behaviour is monitored to ensure vehicles are used safely and the fleet overall is as ‘green’ and productive as possible.

The systems can measure a vehicle’s real-world carbon footprint with an accurate on the road CO2 reading rather than the official CO2 figure provided by the manufacturer.

They can also detect whether drivers are costing the company unnecessary money by using harsh manoeuvres, whether acceleration, braking or even cornering – all of which can result in higher fuel bills.

Intelligent routing systems combined with live traffic data can help ensure drivers use the best routes to reach their destinations with preferences for quickest or most environmentally friendly journey, by reducing the amount of time wasted in traffic as well as the cost of fuel used when idling.

Fleet News has enlisted the help of three telematics system suppliers – TomTom Business Solutions, Trimble and Traffilog – to conduct a trial using company cars on the fleet of our parent company Bauer Media.

They have each supplied five units with broadly similar functions to be placed in 15 Bauer Media vehicles.

Most cars will be Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI Bluemotion models each using a tracking system provided by one of the three suppliers, while two will be Audi A3 Sportback 1.6 TDI models.

Units have already been placed in vehicles and were due to be switched on from the beginning of September for three months of monitoring.

The exercise will look at the fuel efficiency of the vehicles – particularly as most are capable of more than 70mpg on the combined cycle – and whether monitoring behaviour has an effect on how the vehicles are driven. It will compare key performance indicators month-on-month and will also take into account any training and advice provided to drivers and its impact.


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