The Future of Telematics in Connected Fleets

Dennis JaconiApril 19, 2021

As the industry has advanced over the years, today fleet managers heavily depend on the abilities to receive reliable real-time data from their vehicles to react accordingly and report accurately. By collecting signal data on location, mileage, fuel consumption, driver behavior and vehicle health — clean telematics data provides fleets with insights into how its assets are performing and where there is room for improvement.

But with commercial fleets now making the gradual transition to electrification and alt-fuel vehicles, most of which being equipped with OEM telematics, fleets will be left in a bit of a quandary regarding how to best unify data streams and or replace existing telematics systems and vehicles. This dilemma along with a multitude of other questions around the best path forward in future-proofing fleet, are front and center in the industry at current.

Pre-installed versus aftermarket solutions

With a push for real-time data in recent years, it is no surprise that most of the EVs being built by top manufacturers like Ford, LMC and GM will have OEM telematics, GPS tracking and driver safety technology already built-in. According to Berg Insight, the number of vehicles with factory-embedded telematics hardware is projected to grow from 49 million in 2017 to an outstanding 258.1 million by 2023.

A good example is Ford – who has integrated their Ford Telematics system into every commercial vehicle made since 2020. This is a huge win for commercial fleets who will save time on compatibility testing along with the additional costs and vehicle downtime that would be required with aftermarket installation.

In 2019, Ford Telematics was introduced for commercial vehicles.

So, what will this mean for third party providers?

Though OEMs are working quickly to integrate software solutions into their vehicles’ hardware, there is still a void for third party providers to fill. There are a few notable downsides to OEM-produced telematics. One of which, is the inability to incorporate data from various automakers. This can be a problem for large fleets that are comprised of different makes and models of vehicle, along with older vehicles with dated technology. 

In these cases, a third-party telematics provider allows fleet managers to view and compare standardized data from all of their vehicles on one platform, making their jobs simpler and more efficient. OEM-embedded technology typically comes only in the newest vehicle models, the functionality of aftermarket providers is not dependent on make or model.

Are these telematics solutions future proof?

Ultimately, the decision to invest in telematics depends on return on investment and whether the benefits outweigh the cost for your fleet for years to come. OEMs and third-party providers must consider how quickly technology as well as data needs and uses change, and be ready to adapt to these changes seamlessly. Many aftermarket telematics providers like Geotab have already developed their systems with this in mind, so that additional features can be added later on if customers desire. 

Though the ultimate choice between OEM or third-party telematics depends on your industry, fleet size and operational needs, the investment in data collection and analytics has very high reward. Along with ELDs and cameras, some providers such as Ford are also offering a mobile app for drivers to input additional qualitative data such as tire condition and live reporting. As these platforms continue to evolve and come up with creative solutions for industry challenges, telematics should continue to be indispensable tech for commercial fleets.

If you’re interested to see how our platform and team of analysts are helping fleets to get more value from their telematics data, schedule a demo or send me an email.

Dennis Jaconi

VP of Marketing and Sales

Dennis Jaconi is the VP of marketing and sales at Utilimarc. He has over 10 years of experience working within the commercial fleet industries and leads a dynamic team of digital content and customer success managers. See more from Dennis

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