Fleet News

Insight: Telemetry 'game-changer' will lower fleet SMR costs

Telemetry will be a “game-changer” in the fleet sector, according to Zenith, offering leasing companies the opportunity to reduce maintenance costs for the most efficient fleets by more closely managing their vehicles.

The one drawback is the fact that car manufacturers are developing their own systems which will mean there is no common standard.

To counter this, Zenith is entering a pilot with a telemetry partner in the first quarter of 2013, initially on its own company vehicles, with a view to installing it across its risk fleet later in the year.

“Telemetry linked to the vehicle’s ECU means we will have greater understanding of the car,” said Zenith chief executive Tim Buchan.

“The weakness in our sector is that we have to talk to the driver not the car.”

He believes that telemetry will change the way service, maintenance and repair (SMR) is considered by leasing companies, resulting in a new way of structuring the monthly fee.

“Within a couple of years I can see pricing charged by the mile. We will be able to take into consideration how the car is run and whether it is used outside of the manufacturers’ tolerances, for example, on mileage for brake pad replacement, and how it’s being used,” Buchan said.

“Maintenance costs are weighted across our fleet now which means that the best fleets probably pay a bit too much. Telemetry means we can tailor payments per individual vehicle.

“This will be a game-changer in how fleets pay for their vehicles. The most efficient fleets will pay less and the less efficient fleets will pay more. It will be a fairer system.”

Buchan also predicts that telemetry will reduce vehicle downtime by enabling Zenith to pre-book cars in for service and repair at a convenient time for the driver and the workshop.

Investment in technology, like telemetry, combined with a commitment to new products like salary sacrifice will be two vital pillars for success over the next few years, Buchan believes.

Zenith has this year been rolling out its Pulse diagnostic tool to fleet customers.

The Leeds-based company has also restructured its team to focus on three core areas: corporate company car, LCV/HGV and retail, i.e. salary sacrifice.

“The needs are very different between a company car driver and salary sacrifice, which is a benefits solution that performs on the strength of the brand and service not on the need for a desired model,” said Buchan.

“It’s a distress purchase. Someone that has very little money to buy a new car and is facing rising service and repair costs will find salary sacrifice an attractive proposition. But they probably need a car within a week and we often have three-month lead times.”

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