Q&A: Playing on the Brazilian telematics market

Q&A: Playing on the Brazilian telematics market

Hecht has been in his current position at INRIX since April 2012. He is charged with helping automotive OEMs and their suppliers around the world make the best and most efficient use of his company’s traffic information and driver services. The customers he works with include BMW, Audi, Lexus, Toyota and Ford.

Hecht came to INRIX with more than 20 years of experience in the automotive, GPS and navigation markets, having honed his skills at such market leaders as NAVIGON, now part of Garmin, and NAVTEQ.

As president of NAVIGON North America, he was responsible for launching its mobile navigation brand in the U.S. market. In his more than 10 years at NAVTEQ, Hecht served as general manager of professional services and directed the company’s technical, product and business development segments for its automotive clients.

In June 2012, INRIX and MapLink, Brazil’s leading provider of traffic and location-based services, formed an exclusive partnership to provide the countrywith real-time and predictive traffic data and analysis. 

TU’s Siegfried Mortkowitz talked with Hecht about obstacles to the development of the Brazilian telematics market, Contran 245 implementation and opportunities created by the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

What was the strategy behind your company’s partnership with MapLink?

INRIX is now live with traffic and other services in 32 countries. A key component of our global expansion is identifying partners that facilitate our market entry into strategic markets such as Brazil. We were impressed with MapLink’s history and their experience. In addition, we have similar business models. We’re both focused on B2B, though we both have a B2C brand.

Leveraging MapLink’s broad community and GPS data from commercial fleets, we launched our commercial traffic services as well as our INRIX Traffic app for iPhone, iPad and Android in Brazil. We had discussions with many other Brazilian-based companies, but we decided that MapLink was the strongest partner aligned with our strategy.

Do you think Brazil has the potential to become a dynamic telematics market in the future?

Yes, we do. Brazil is one of the largest consumer automotive markets today, and [it is] very strong in the commercial telematics markets. As a developing country, however, Brazil is lagging in some respects but also bypassing some of the trends that were popular in the United States and Europe.

For example, the automotive aftermarket for radios is large in Brazil due to how government taxes are established on new cars. However, PNDs never became popular. Brazilians went directly to mobile navigation apps. And with a new wave of connected vehicle navigation platforms coming to market, Brazil has great potential.

INRIX markets its services to different verticals, of which automotive is the largest. But we also sell to departments of transport, fleets, the public sector, the insurance business and media. For example, in the U.K., we deliver live traffic broadcasts for the BBC radio and TV stations. We expect eventually to have similar penetration in the Brazilian market.

What are some potential obstacles to the development of the Brazilian telematics market?

Basically, it’s the macroeconomic development. What is the economic growth going to be, and how does that affect corporate and consumer spending? It also depends on local culture and politics, such as the recent consumer unrest about the government.

We and our Brazilian partners are very tightly joined at the hip. We will leverage our partner’s capability in insurance, fleet, media and other sectors. Then it will depend on how quickly these market segments develop and on their momentum. We are very optimistic about the long-term opportunity in Brazil.

Brazil will be hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. What opportunities do these events present for your company, considering the problems they are expected to create for the country’s already traffic-challenged roads?

Our partner, MapLink, is currently negotiating with communities hosting events to use our services to ease the expected traffic problems. We are also approaching car companies to leverage the situation to promote our services, to promote the idea of high-end vehicles with navigation, and to demonstrate the real-time nature of these services. This is not just about direct selling, but also marketing and creating awareness of these services.

(For more on this, see Brazil World Cup and Olympics: Opportunities lost & gained, part I and Brazil World Cup and Olympics: Opportunities lost & gained, part II.) 

Do you foresee any difficulties?

Well, these services are definitely not free of charge. It’s up to the federal and regional governments to decide whether or not to invest in public-private partnerships leveraging intelligent transportation systems with traffic services like INRIX. The recent street protests could not have come at a more inopportune time for the government.  They will certainly have an impact on the amount and type of public spending. The protesters have significant leverage, and the government will have to respond, including making some concessions.

Do you see the imminent implementation of Contran 245 as giving a boost to the Brazilian telematics market?

It certainly will help and will invariably create new business models. Similar to the European Union draft resolutions requiring all cars to have a basic, connected telematics [emergency alert system], Contran 245 will provide a platform that will enable additional services, such as real-time traffic, severe weather alerts, offboard navigation and other services for connected cars.

(For more on Contran 245, see Contran 245 (finally) ready to go? Part I and Contran 245 (finally) ready to go? Part II.)

Siegfried Mortkowitz is a regular contributor to TU.

For all the latest telematics trends, check out V2V & V2I for Auto Safety USA 2013 on July 9-10 in Novi, MI, Insurance Telematics USA 2013 on September 4-5 in Chicago, Telematics Russia 2013 in September in Moscow, Telematics LATAM 2013 in September in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Telematics Japan 2013 on October 8-10 in Tokyo and Telematics Munich 2013 on November 11-12.

For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports: Telematics Connectivity Strategies Report 2013The Automotive HMI Report 2013Insurance Telematics Report 2013 and Fleet & Asset Management Report 2012.

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