The importance of telematics data is so high to one of the UK’s largest fleets that free access to information generated by connected car technology will form part of its procurement criteria.
Addison Lee Group has about 4,500 vehicles in its chauffeur drive, private hire and courier fleet, each one of which is currently connected via a third-party telematics system.
However, as manufacturers build more connected services into their vehicles to meet customer demand, the company sees more options to buy fleet vehicles with this technology already embedded, said Paul McCabe, Group Mobility Innovation Director, Addison Lee Group (pictured below).
“As we look to refreshing our entire fleet to be Zero Emissions Capable by 2022, we will be looking at the emerging opportunities afforded by auto manufacturers to harness their built-in tech and specifying our connected car needs as part of our procurement criteria,” he said.
Addison Lee Group has used connected vehicle data for more than a decade, and its current system provides a full range of reporting functions on vehicle statuses, including geo-fencing, crash detection and driving behaviours. Status data sent from its cars is now used to automatically allocate 95% of its jobs in London.
Reducing empty miles
“Vehicle location information feeds directly into our auto allocation engine which ensures the best car for a particular job is assigned,” said McCabe. “This not only helps ensure passenger convenience, but it also helps reduce empty running miles.”
The company’s drivers have a proprietary app which provides the details of each job, routing information, and gives them access to support services. In future, asks McCabe, could this information be sent directly to a car’s dashboard display, rather than the driver’s smartphone, to improve convenience for drivers?
Switching to electric power
Looking ahead, Addison Lee Group is also using telematics data to identify opportunities to electrify its fleet.
“The duty cycles of our vehicles start and end from a driver’s home or street rather than a depot, and vehicles may travel up to several hundred miles a day if carrying out national work,” said McCabe. “When coupled with the limited EV product available from auto manufacturers and limited charging network, these circumstances present a significant challenge to designing a workable charging approach for our fleet. Data we collect from our fleet, including when and where stops and breaks occur between jobs, helps us understand what we need from a charging provider.”
The company is currently running a pilot programme with five Audi e-trons to gain a deeper understanding of how a battery-powered car can perform within the company’s expected duty cycle, and how charging status data could be analysed by its dispatch algorithms to ensure customers and drivers are never inconvenienced by running out of charge.