When you think of telematics, several providers may immediately come to mind, but it’s likely that none of them are OEMs, such as Ford or General Motors. These OEMs have telematics solutions specific for their vehicle lines — built in and ready to go.
An OEM-focused solution has its benefits and its challenges.
Quick Installation & Instant Support
Probably the top benefit of utilizing any OEM-based telematics solution is the easy of installation — it’s ready to go right away! No installation required.
“Using embedded modems means we can offer our customers high-quality, manufacturer-grade data. Our solution is designed by Ford Engineers and deeply integrated into our vehicles,” said Michelle Moody, marketing director for Ford Commercial Solutions.
General Motors utilizes its OnStar platform.
“OnStar is backed by more than 20 years of providing safety and security services — protecting drivers, vehicles, and offering support businesses can trust,” explained Michelle Calloway, head of OnStar Vehicle Insights, General Motors Global Innovation.
Both GM and Ford’s solutions are embedded into the vehicle.
Ford’s solution uses an external antenna to improve cellular connection and includes integrated power management to protect the vehicle battery.
“There is no need to purchase or install additional equipment for Ford vehicles fitted with an embedded modem from the factory and 100% of Ford’s 2020 model-year lineup in North America now offers some form of connectivity,” Moody added.
OnStar hardware is embedded in GM vehicles and provides a powerful connection for OnStar Vehicle Insights functionality.
“OnStar Vehicle Insights customers also have access to a full range of additional services via OnStar, including fleet safety and security features like Automatic Crash Response and Stolen Vehicle Assistance. Wi-Fi connectivity packages are also available for each vehicle,” Calloway shared.
Working with Mixed Fleets
As with any solution utilized by fleets, one-size never fits all and solutions must be tailored to individual fleet needs.
“We recognize that fleets want a flexible solution and we’re working on making Ford Telematics compatible with other vehicle brands,” Moody explained.
And, while single-sourcing a fleet has benefits from a streamlining of operations perspective, Calloway understands that not every fleet can be single-sourced.
“We are working on a solution that will allow OnStar Vehicle Insights to be compatible with mixed fleets so even more customers can experience the benefits of our services,” Calloway shared. “General Motors also has many third-party partnership solutions in place today that leverage GM’s API and Data Services such as GeoTab, Verizon Connect, Fleet Complete, MapAnything, Donlen, ARI, Enterprise, Element, and Spireon that use the embedded OnStar technology to support fleets of many makes and sizes.”
While OnStar Vehicle Insights is simple, fast, and scalable for all businesses, its variety of features allow fleet manager and drivers to have a customized experience, as each business’ needs are different.
“Fleet managers can pull reports based on specific criteria that is important to them, as well as set up custom notifications for speeding, geofencing, diagnostics, and maintenance reminders. Fleet managers can organize their fleet by different regions or groups and compare insights across the groups. OnStar Vehicle Insights also allows different user logins, so that fleet managers can invite other team members and drivers to use the product with the appropriate levels of access,” Calloway said.
Ford Commercial Solutions also knows that no two fleets are alike.
“Our customers have the power of choice to select the telematics option that works best for them,” Moody said. “Ford Data Services can provide manufacturer-grade data to third-party telematics providers or fleet management companies using factory-fitted embedded modems already in their vehicles. We currently have relationships with ARI, Donlen, Fleet Complete, Goetab, Spireon, and Verizon Connect,” Moody shared.
If a fleet operator has their own proprietary systems, Ford can provide connected vehicle data through the Ford Data Services API.
“For fleets looking for an OEM telematics solution, we offer Ford Telematics, which features GPS tracking and geofencing on a live map, vehicle health alerts, vehicle fuel usage monitoring, and insights into driver behavior,” Moody said. “Additionally, fleets can manage their vehicles and product subscriptions through an online marketplace, Ford Fleet Marketplace. This allows them to customize which products they purchase for each vehicle in their fleet.”
If you haven’t yet considered an OEM-focused solution, it’s as good a time as any to investigate your options.
Real-World Applications & Benefits
Acorn Stairlifts, headquartered in Orlando, Fla., operates a mixed fleet of approximately 350 vehicles. The fleet is used to carry products related to the installation and maintenance of stairlifts, as well as sales operations.
“I have OnStar Vehicle Insights for my GM vehicles and a third-party solution for my other vehicles. About two-thirds of my vehicles use OnStar Vehicle Insights right now and I plan to convert my fleet completely over to the OnStar Vehicle Insights system once OnStar Vehicle Insights has mixed fleet capabilities,” said Bryan Krieser, fleet operations manager for Acord Stairlifts, Inc. “I prefer OnStar Vehicle Insights because I find it to be a better system — the data is more accurate, my drivers love it, the remote lock/unlock function is great and saves me from paying additional costs. And, overall, it is saving me money.”
Krieser recounts a recent situation when one of the company drivers locked the keys inside the vehicle.
“Before (without OnStar Vehicle Insights) we would have had to call roadside, which would have caused probably two hours of downtown, we’d have to pay for the unlocking service, which is an added cost, and a lot of times now companies don’t want to pop your lock because it’s a damage liability. With OnStar Vehicle Insights we quickly unlocked the door remotely and my driver was able to stay on schedule and I didn’t have to pay any outside maintenance costs,” Krieser said.
Being able to use the remote lock/unlock has been a big improvement for the fleet.
“I’m already seeing cost savings and I know they are just going to keep growing to greater savings over time. The additional safety benefits that come with OnStar are also great,” Krieser concluded.