Teletrac sits down with Citroën, our automaker friends across the pond, to chat about the big T (we're talking telematics).
Teletrac: How does Citroën perceive the current Teletrac offering?
Michael: When we first adopted the Teletrac offer, we were far ahead in the marketplace. We had already been a leading van manufacturer in the United Kingdom. Many companies were not really tuned into the benefits of telematics. I have to say now, and especially over the last 18 months, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the amount of interest from our businesses and the proposition that Teletrac now offers us with the Fleet Director software and the standard fit of the SmartNav system. These offerings really put us at the forefront of telematics technology with our van clients and customers. The 6-7 years of investment is starting to pay off now, which is great.
Teletrac: How has recent legislation about insurance discrimination affected views toward telematic solutions?
Michael: Insurance in the U.K. is very expensive now, predominantly among the young driver fraternity. The Citroën C1, with the SmartNav system, has certainly encouraged the take-up by young drivers on our products. The amount they have to contribute to insurance is dramatically lower than if they went with a car without black box technology. That would be considerably more expensive for them. We have many companies that are interested in insurance-type products. Our partnership has begun to pave the way. Simply, having Teletrac technology in our vehicles gives us an advantage over other manufacturers in the U.K. marketplace.
Teletrac: Does Teletrac’s fleet tracking software help Citroën sell more vehicles?
Michael: When you buy a Citroën van, the black box technology is already in the vehicle. Whereas if you buy another automaker’s van, you have to pay for the shipment of the black box on top of the price of the van. This before you get any access to telematics software. There have been cases where we’ve won contracts simply because of our telematics offering. I think within the coming 12-18 months, you’ll see it become even more prevalent. Just recently we won a major contract with a company and a large part of that was because we supply vehicles with the black box technology from which they could get the Fleet Director software and other fleet management tools. That was a key part in them making that decision.
Teletrac: How do you see telematics being more integrated within Citroën vehicles?
Michael: From our point of view, we’d like to take it to the point where the factory line is integrated more in the interior of the vehicle, rather than having it fitted retrospectively upon arrival in the U.K. That helps keep costs for everybody down. I think over the next two years, you’ll start to see telematics becoming integral, particularly with regards to insurance and vehicle maintenance. These two areas will become absolutely essential.
Teletrac: Is telematics a given investment for all automakers in the future?
Michael: I think so. We’ve seen here in the U.K. press that other manufacturers are starting to have these conversations. For example, the number of telematics providers that were exhibiting at an auto show was very high because everyone recognizes the importance of telematics. In the van market, people recognized that these particular vehicles are used for logistics and related fields. In these cases, it’s clear that time is money. Finding ways to save on proper maintenance safety costs are becoming more and more prevalent. Because of that, customers will have an expectation that telematics is a given for vehicles in the future.