Features | 09 Apr 2021

How data is helping us drive towards a cleaner, greener world

In this connected age, vehicles are becoming mobile phones and data centres on wheels. Vodafone Automotive and partner Geotab help fleet managers make sense of it all, thereby reducing costs and carbon emissions.

Most modern cars now come with a SIM built in to enable them to make an automatic emergency call if they’ve been in an accident. And hands-free calling, whether linked to your smartphone or not, has become the norm.

Vodafone Automotive, a centre of excellence for connected mobility and transportation, provides these SIMs for millions of vehicles, and provides a number of other services, such as emergency assistance, usage-based insurance and stolen vehicle tracking. In 2020 alone, Vodafone Automotive Secure Operating Centres recovered 677 vehicles worth €21.4m in total.

Vehicles fitted with the right kit can record location, speed, acceleration, braking, cornering velocity, revs per minute, wear and tear – you name it. And this data goldmine can be transmitted wirelessly in real time to fleet managers, manufacturers, insurance companies or dealers.

This is the world of telematics, which is particularly relevant to fleet managers.

And it’s why Vodafone Automotive’s partnership with Geotab is so important. Geotab is one of the largest fleet telematics companies in the world, serving 44,000 customers worldwide. It aims to become the technology platform that underpins every connected car.

Telematics helps fleet managers to reduce the total cost of ownership

(Aaron Jarvis, Geotab)

Aaron Jarvis, Geotab’s Strategic Channel Development Manager for the UK and Ireland, believes measuring how we drive can not only make us safer on the road, but also less polluting and damaging to the environment.

Vehicles are fitted with a credit card-sized onboard diagnostics device that constantly records data collected by dozens of sensors. All these telematics devices collect 40 billion data points a day from more than 2.2 million connected vehicles, says Aaron.

Telematics boxes
These little devices pack a big punch, helping fleet managers to reduce costs and carbon emissions

“Telematics helps fleet managers to reduce the total cost of ownership,” he says, “not only ensuring that their drivers are driving responsibly, but also monitoring fuel consumption, fault codes and wear and tear. This can help reduce maintenance costs and carbon emissions.”

On a chilly day, for example, a lorry driver might keep the engine running when parked up to keep the cab warm. But doing this can waste fuel and pollute the environment unnecessarily. Analysing all the data Geotab processed helped the fleet manager work out that it was far more efficient to heat the driver’s seat and steering wheel – a simple change that when applied across a large fleet added up to a significant fuel and carbon saving.

“Through the services we offer, we aim to help our business customers easily and effectively manage the cost of fleet ownership, look after the safety of their drivers, and keep their assets secure,” says Graziano Mangiarotti, Vodafone Automotive’s Head of Product Management & Quality.

Electric future

A typical car can produce nearly five tonnes of CO2 a year. When you think that there are about 280 million vehicles on the road in Europe alone, you can understand why the transport sector is a key target in the fight against climate change.

This is why the internal combustion engine is on the way out and electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are on the way in. But switching a large car, van or lorry fleet to electric is not so easy. The charging infrastructure is still being built and electric vehicles (EVs) typically achieve fewer miles on a charge than their petrol and diesel forerunners achieve on a full tank. EVs are also more expensive at this early stage in their development.

So Vodafone Automotive and Geotab have created a data-driven service to help fleet managers assess which vehicles in their fleets would be most suitable for switching to electric – based on an analysis of typical journey times, distances travelled, proximity of charging stations and so on.

The EV Suitability Assessment looks at which EV would be best for each fleet role based on data analysis of previous driver usage and behaviour, and informed by a detailed knowledge of how EVs perform in real-world conditions. Batteries are less efficient in cold weather, some models have much better range than others, and some countries have much more developed charging infrastructures, for example.

Smartphone and car
Vodafone Automotive is helping fleet managers make the transition to electric vehicles

“Vodafone and Geotab can help fleet managers make the transition to electric in the most cost-effective way and then help them manage the fleet as efficiently as possible,” explains Aaron.

Part of this management involves helping to ensure that all vehicles are not being charged at the same time – thereby putting too much load on the national grid – but in a staggered way that is less disruptive.

Vodafone Automotive’s experience in service delivery, customer support, installation, connectivity and sales enables it to offer a comprehensive, data-driven service to fleet managers that really makes a difference.

“By working with Geotab, our mutual vision and strengths combine to support our customers in building a sustainable future,” says Mr Mangiarotti.

As vehicles become even more connected, data generating, and electric, Vodafone and Geotab are in a prime position to help clients transition to this cleaner, greener world.

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