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.
Ford's all-new Focus Electric, with 110 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) city rating and 99 MPGe on the highway, has been certified by the U.S. EPA as America's most fuel-efficient five-passenger car. The Focus Electric combined rating of 105 MPGe tops the Nissan Leaf by 6 MPGe; Focus Electric also features more passenger room and a faster charging system that allows for a full recharge in nearly half the time of Nissan Leaf.
Miles translate to currency in the trucking business, and commercial routing and mileage software providers are now branching out with applications that offer turn-by-turn navigation, maps, fuel tax reporting, fuel management and even transportation management systems. ALK Technologies' PC*Miler 25, Prophesy Transportation Software, and Rand McNally's ItelliRoute offer programs that allow fleets to plan more precise travel time as well as fuel tax reporting, route optimization and mobile communications technologies.
Chrysler is expected to disclose plans to build its first production-line pickup, the Ram heavy-duty bi-fuel truck, to be powered by a combination of compressed natural gas and conventional gasoline and plans to have about 2,000 of them once it begins building them in June. The bi-fuel Rams can travel 255 miles on CNG before automatically switching to an 8-gallon gasoline tank for an additional 112 miles.