Fleet News

'Browser on wheels' prediction for fleets

FLEET managers will be providing their drivers with an effective 'browser on wheels' that can have its performance and features altered at the touch of a button. That is the prediction from Martin Ready, automotive and aerospace group manager for Sun Microsystems, speaking at the annual meeting of FleetNet, the voluntary organisation under which the fleet industry is attempting to develop common communication standards for online trading.

Advanced telematics that are beginning to appear on vehicles are just the start of a potential boom in technology fitted to cars that could revolutionise the way manufacturers and suppliers operate, he said. Among the uses for the technology could be the ability to boost a vehicle's power by remotely adjusting its performance. Rental companies could then raise extra income by charging for 'upgrading' the power of a car via computer booking systems.

Manufacturers could create cars that have their specification upgraded by switching it on electronically, so a fleet could boost the residual value by paying to switch on extra equipment when the time comes to defleet. Ready said: 'Service providers could own vehicles and the customer would have a lifestyle transport service agreement. This service provider would have to provide multiple vehicles as required, from off-roaders to family saloons. Club membership would also include maintenance, fuel and infotainment provided to the car.'

The concept of the browser on wheels has also been dubbed the Java car, after the computer language, and it would provide information on a vehicle's location, points of interest in the area, a concierge service and remote diagnostics. Ready admitted there would be stumbling blocks, such as the cost of producing the technology and trust in the systems. 'For example, make sure you have confidence in any service provider you choose, particularly if it was one that was brought to its knees by the I Love You virus,' he said.

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