Spain-based multinational mobile operator Telefonica and its longtime partner Geotab have been awarded a contract to connect the European vehicles of France-based Europcar Mobility Group, following a trial in Mallorca. The car rental group had a total of 44,000 connected cars in 2019 and is aiming to connect all of its fleet by 2023, with Telefonica and Geotab providing access to engine data, driving behavior and GPS location. The data provided can be used to determine distances traveled, mileage, speed, acceleration and fuel level, as well as to detect accidents.
Telefonica said the data gathered will be processed to help improve customer experience and optimize business applications and internal processes such as fleet inventory management, vehicle delivery and collection, vehicle maintenance, vehicle return and more. The deployment is set to start this year in France with Europcar’s fleet of vans and trucks, with other countries to follow in 2021.
The partners previously launched a trial of the project in Palma de Mallorca in 2018, connecting 1,000 cars in the city to Telefonica’s network and Geotab’s fleet tracking platform, with a view to giving Europcar immediate access to vehicle data and testing the car rental company’s Click & Go initiative.
This project of Telefonica is an excellent example of a forward-looking, value-added product that an operator can develop, along with a technology partner, to bring in revenue and assure itself relevance in this era of declining revenues from traditional services.
Connected cars are an emerging sector with great potential for profit, and operators in general will do well to cultivate them. While they may still be a niche product for consumers, that is far from the case when it comes to fleets of vehicles, whether it be rental cars and trucks, taxis or corporate vehicle infrastructure. With tens of thousands of vehicles on the roads of Europe, Europcar is a very good client for an operator such as Telefonica.
While connected cars may partake of certain aspects of IoT—and that in itself is a strong emerging area of opportunity for mobile operators—gathering and processing vehicle data is the main feature of this particular deployment. Through Telefonica’s network, Europcar will have access to key data that will enable it to track and secure each vehicle as well as determining how to use each one to maximum economic efficiency. Since customers will be driving the vehicles, there could be concerns when it comes to tracking movements, so as usual it behooves the providers to be transparent and to reassure those who rent the vehicles that their privacy will not be violated.