A recent Donlen Corp. survey of fleets using telematics devices found those considering the devices have a higher expectation of fuel savings than those already using them. Fuel economy becomes less important to the return on investment as carriers notice other benefits and savings with use. Improved driver behavior, route productivity and fuel savings are the main reasons for investing in telematics devices among those who are using them.
"A Secure Energy Future: Progress Report" issued by the Obama Administration says the cost of batteries for electric and hybrid cars will drop within the next three years to an affordable level, helping the U.S. shake its dependence on foreign oil. Much of the expected price drop is attributable to increased battery production. A 10-kilowatt-hour battery that would give an electric car a 40-mile range would cost about $3,600 by 2015.
Sales of GPS standalone devices have declined as more consumers are using their smartphones for directions and maps. Navigation device manufacturer Garmin is now partnering with automakers to embed GPS systems in dashboards. Garmin believes a need for dedicated navigation systems still exists because it is dangerous to use most phones when driving.
The use of telematics for fleet and asset management has expanded from basic tracking to driver-assistance for safety and back-office integration as more companies use the technology to control their fleets. Most vehicle manufacturers are now putting telematics components in their vehicles as they produce them. Demonstrating the financial value of telematics is vital to their adoption, and experts predict their continued growth.
Light- and medium-duty truck fleet managers find driver monitoring technology can help identify unsafe driving practices that need correcting. Actions the technology is designed to detect and record include use of handheld phones, hard braking, sudden acceleration and sharp turning, and that information can be used for remedial training. Commercial vehicle drivers and fleet operators who fail to comply with the recent federal ban on the use of handheld phones can be fined.