Fleet News

Telematics: The science of vehicle tracking

Extract - Telematics – the word itself may not be commonplace but it’s hard to imagine a modern company without instant access to the whereabouts of all of its vehicles. And that’s just the start. Private individuals are getting in on the act and buying telematics devices to lower their insurance payments, detect faults in their cars, and save them money by monitoring their fuel consumption.

In the near future all of the billions of cars in the world will have some form of telematics device. Indeed, industry forecasts suggest that fleet management and tracking systems will experience an annual growth rate of 27% every year until 2016.1

How does your company get the edge on the many competitors in the telematics field? The answer is simple - On-Board Diagnostics.

Click Here to read the white paper in full

Leave a comment for your chance to win £20 of John Lewis vouchers.

Every issue of Fleet News the editor picks his favourite comment from the past two weeks – get involved for your chance to appear in print and win!

Login to comment


  • Adam - 05/11/2012 17:19

    OBD (On Board Diagnostic) Telematic System This practice is thwart with pitfalls, non-approved connections to a vehicle OBD port could invalidate warranties and can cause legal or technical issues. Modern vehicles are controlled by highly sophisticated computer systems and can detect miniscule unexpected current draws and may register a fault. What if you have a mixture of old and new vehicles, cars, van, buses from different manufacturers? Older vehicles won’t have any OBD port at all. http://greenroad.com/uk/blog/the-myth-of-engine-control-module-ecm-integration-and-fuel-consumption-data/

  • steven - 05/11/2012 17:23

    What is the question that we get asked most by customers and prospects? Well, there are many, but a common question that highlights a growing concern with ever increasing fuel costs is “how do I accurately measure my individual vehicle fuel consumption?” With the advent of On Board Diagnostics (OBD) in the 1980s the problem was solved, right? OBD, in an automotive context, is a generic term referring to a vehicle’s self-diagnostic and reporting capability. All vehicle manufacturers conform to SAE J1979 and the OBD-II standard has been mandatory for all cars and light trucks sold in the United States since 1996, and the EOBD standard has been mandatory for all petrol vehicles sold in the European Union since 2001 and all diesel vehicles since 2004. Problem solved! We just connect to the vehicle OBD port (they all have one) and read the fuel consumption data, right? Wrong…..it’s not that simple, it’s complicated and fraught with pitfalls. Each vehicle manufacturer implements the standard uniquely and will rarely, if ever, share that standard outside their service network. It’s possible to gain access to that standard and implement a solution to read the (Parameter Identification Numbers) PID codes, but manufacturers are not required to implement all PIDs listed in J1979 and they are allowed to include proprietary PIDs that are not listed. It’s just a minefield to attempt to interpret individual manufacturer PIDs accurately. Most importantly, non-approved connections to a vehicle OBD port could invalidate warranty and cause other legal or technical issues. Modern vehicles are controlled by highly sophisticated computer systems and can detect miniscule unexpected current draws and may register a fault. What if you have a mixture of old and new vehicles, cars, vans, buses from different manufacturers? Older vehicles won’t have any OBD port at all. Many after-market telematics providers will claim that they have solved the OBD connectivity problem. Not so! If you question their claims carefully, you will find that none of the issues outlined above have been solved satisfactorily and fuel consumption and mileage data accuracy will be highly suspect. GreenRoad does NOT connect to the vehicle ECM. Our unique approach to driver performance management requires that our in vehicle unit (IVU) be entirely self-contained and not rely on any vehicle manufacturer provided diagnostics, thus ensuring consistency and accuracy across a range of vehicle ages, types and manufacturer. We didn’t do this because it was easy. We did it (in the words of a former US president) because it was hard! We did it because without a fully self contained IVU, you CANNOT build a world class driver performance solution. So, back to the original question! How can we measure fuel consumption accurately? How can we prove the efficacy of the GreenRoad driver performance solution? Well the answer is most certainly NOT to be found by non-approved connection to a vital vehicle diagnostics system. Leave that to your approved vehicle service provider. The answer lies in going back to the source i.e. accurate measurement of actual fuel that is pumped into the vehicle tank and accurate measurement of vehicle mileage. The good news is that, whether you “bunker” your fuel or use fuel cards, GreenRoad can work with you to build a solution, using our GPS derived mileage and location data, that will truly give you the markets most accurate fuel consumption data by vehicle and by driver. As one customer said to me in exasperation as he studied wildly inaccurate fuel consumption reports from a telematics vendor “it’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove that counts” Talk to GreenRoad and we will help you prove what we already know about the fuel consumption benefits of our driver performance solution.

  • Richard Lane - Head of Channel Sales - Ctrack UK & Ireland - 04/03/2013 17:17

    I read the white paper with interest. Whilst I agree that a connection to the ECU via OBD is able to capture some data that GPS technology is not able to provide (over revving, fuel and throttle level), harsh driving data such as braking, acceleration, cornering and even harsh bumping can be determined using an accelerometer (non-OBD technology). Furthermore, non-ECU/OBD GPS tracking can also effectively provide speeding and true engine idling data as well as rolling GPS odometer readings. Meanwhile, OBD technology can only block mobile calls whilst driving if the vehicle is fitted with a manufacturer’s handsfree kit and even then this is not yet universal. Other third-party solutions or Bluetooth earpieces could not be controlled in the same way. There are definitely some advantages to non-ECU/OBD technology to be considered such as being able to detect harsh cornering in addition to other harsh driving behaviours. For example, Ctrack’s technology – approved by some of the world’s leading insurers – is able to detect accidents or vehicle damage and provide real-time alerts. The ability to provide this type of information is essential to insurance providers for first notification of loss. Although ECU/OBD technology is an option we offer we have seen very little uptake in particular in the insurance market as yet. We believe this is due to the data being provided by GPS and Accelerometer solutions currently offering a wider range of benefits.

Compare costs of your company cars

Looking to acquire new vehicles? Check how much they'll cost to run with our Car Running Cost calculator.

What is your BIK car tax liability?

The Fleet News car tax calculator lets you work out tax costs for both employer and employee