By Corporate Marketing Team, MINI UK

So what are telematics?

The idea of a ‘spy in the cab’ is outdated and irrelevant, and so is the notion of ‘Big Brother’ watching your every move. Telematics should not be thought of merely as a vehicle tracking system: the ability to follow vehicle movements is just one element of a vast range of tools available to a business.

The key is a transponder in the car that emits signals about its status and location via GPS, internet and phone. The data is sent to the operator using cloud-based technology, and can be accessed from a computer, smartphone or tablet.

Depending on the specified system and the level of detail required, a myriad of data can be exchanged. The communication can be two-way, ensuring businesses can manage and help employees many hundreds of miles away quickly and easily by sending them messages and advice.

Telematics can:

• Manage fleet efficiency by checking driving styles and fuel use.
• Help drivers stay safe by monitoring the position of both car and driver.
• Streamline expenses and fuel purchasing.
• Keep track of servicing schedules to ensure cars are in perfect running condition.
• Help logistics by showing you route planning and scheduling.
• Reduce accident rates.
• Cut insurance premiums.
• Provide evidence against false claims and fraud.
• Identify ways of improving driving styles.

What operational savings can be made?

Leading motor insurers reckon that installing telematics could result in a 11% improvement in fuel consumption and a 20% reduction in a fleet’s accident rate.

Some company users have seen other benefits, such as significant reductions in negative driving behaviours that may waste fuel and cause accidents.

Experts reckon businesses could receive a return on investment after using vehicle tracking for as little as six months, with the vast majority reaching positive ROI in under a year.

Choosing a supplier: common questions and answers

When selecting a telematics supplier, seek answers to the following questions:

Q: Does the transponder ‘black box’ need to be wired into the car’s own systems, which may impact on the manufacturer’s warranty provision?
A: It shouldn’t need to be. Systems can be wired independently, which also allows removal and reuse at vehicle disposal time.

Q: Can the supplier provide efficient technical support?
A: As with most computer-based systems, the ability to problem-solve is paramount.

Q: Can the data be supplied and presented exactly as you need it, and can exception reports be provided?
A: Efficient interfacing with your own computer systems is a must and should be demanded of any supplier.

Q: What are the upfront, and ongoing costs for installation, devices and data?
A: An essential part of the negotiation, and the costs may be lower than you are expecting.

Q: Are the systems easy to upgrade with the latest technological advances?
A: Online system updates are desirable for obvious reasons.