The impact of eCall, EETS and ITP on fleet telematics, part II

The impact of eCall, EETS and ITP on fleet telematics, part II

The European Electronic Toll Service (EETS) is another important European initiative that, according to Charles Surmont of the European Commission’s directorate-general for mobility and transport, will have a big impact on Europe.

Not only will it contribute to restoration of European economic growth through better integration of transport networks, he says, but it will also generate resources for the maintenance and expansion of these networks. According to Surmont, the current lack of interoperability of electronic road toll systems in the EU is also a “missed opportunity to further establish European leadership in toll equipment and systems that could be exported worldwide.”

Picking up momentum

The framework for EETS was established in 2004, but the project has been marred by delays caused by things like failure to designate conciliation bodies necessary for billing disputes, failure to formalize test requirements for on-board units, and failure to finalize registration procedures for EETS providers. At the moment, only two member states have these registration procedures in place.

Still, the project is believed to be picking up momentum following the European Union’s approval of the European Parliament’s amendments to a draft directive on road use charges for heavy goods vehicles (Eurovignette). According to Surmont, the directive stipulates that from September 2013 any on-board equipment that is not EETS-compliant will no longer be accepted.

To speed up the implementation of EETS, the European Commission has also decided to scale back its ambition and implement the project first in a cluster of five countries with important international traffic and extensive electronic road-tolling systems. These countries are Austria, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

Speeding up implementation

According to the International Road Transport Union (IRU), 21 EU countries already charge for road use, of which five operate an integrated electronic network-wide system and five more use the Eurovignette system. In 2007, revenue from tolls and user charges reached roughly 10.6 billion euros, two thirds of which came from intra-EU transports. By 2020, IRU expects revenue from tolls and user charges to increase to between 20 billion and 30 billion euros, depending on the legal scenario.

“Being able to do everything from the cabin with one single box is something we are all striving for, a kind of one toolbox that does everything,” says Marc Billiet, who is responsible for EU goods transport and EU environmental affairs at IRU. “We are still far away from that, but … little by little this possibility is being opened up.”

According to Billiet, flexibility of an onboard system during a transition like the one awaiting Europe must be a key consideration for fleet operators, so as not to get stuck with hardware that will be impossible to upgrade. (For more on fleets, see Industry insight: Fleet telematics.)

“A fleet operator needs to carefully examine what systems best serve his operations and give him the most benefits, and in that he should invest,” he says. “And, of course, he should try to get as much information as possible on the different alternatives available on the market. And, of course, the providers should then be able to tell him what future possibilities are.”

Intelligent Truck Parking

Intelligent Truck Parking (ITP) is another cornerstone of the European Commission’s agenda to improve transportation infrastructure and manage growing congestion on roads. The ITP aims to increase the number of secure parking places for trucks across Europe, optimize the use of existing parking areas and make it possible to reserve a place from the road.

According to a study by the European Commission, there are already two pan-European portals specializing in truck parking area search. Truckinform covers some 2,800 truck stops in 40 countries and also provides a booking service. TRANSpark not only offers a searchable database of many of Europe’s parking areas, but also provides information on fuel prices, waiting times at borders and weather conditions.

But neither comes close to the kind of comprehensive solution envisioned by the European Union, which is currently backing EasyWay, a project that tries to pull together all available information systems on truck parking space availability and secure parking areas in Germany, France, Italy and beyond.

A couple of other projects with EU backing were recently completed. One aimed to define three levels of truck parking security standards and establish a booking platform for truck parking. The other examined ways to classify truck parking areas based on security, safety, comfort and dignity, and food and shopping.

Lack of coordination

Christoph Ludewig, marketing and communications managerfor FleetBoard, Daimler’s fleet management solution, likes the idea of the EU being proactive with eCall and other initiatives aimed at widespread adoption of telematics, as these efforts help establish telematics as a mainstream tool and increase the technology’s penetration. But he worries about the lack of coordination between the different projects, which could result in more rather than less clutter in the driver’s cabin.

“In Germany, you have a Toll Collect unit in the truck; you have some telematics systems. For eCall, [you may need] another  device; a digital tachograph cannot be put on the telematics system to  record  driving times,” he says—and that’s just for one country.

“All this makes things complicated,“ he adds. “We always strive to make things easier for the customer and to use a single technology in the truck. Now, with the regulations it’s not always possible.”

Implementing eCall

As far as when to start truly worrying about implementing eCall and some of the other innovations, opinions vary. Andrea Sroczynski, head of global automotive sales at Telenor Connexion, says if OEMs want to make the 2015 deadline for eCall, the time to start developing solutions is now. (For more from Andrea Sroczynski, see Q&A: Telematics and the evolution of the SIM card.)

Still, many OEMs are hesitant to commit just yet, she says: “Some are thinking, ‘Hmmm, maybe we just start as an early adopter because then we can also use it as a marketing argument,’” she says. “Others are still not a hundred percent sure. But they have to move next year. I think next year is the final [occasion] when they have to make a decision.” 

The vehicle tracking company Navman Wireless prefers to wait for the picture to become clearer within the next 12 months. “We are at the very early stages of looking at eCall,” saysPeter Millichap, European marketing manager at Navman Wireless UK. “The jury is still out on how all this will pan out. Clearly, it’s one of those technological advances where it’s going to stimulate the market. There is an opportunitythere for telematics providers. But actually where the opportunity is precisely and the best way the industry can capitalize on it is still quite fragmented.”

Next week: The impact of eCall, EETS and ITP on fleet telematics, part III

Read The impact of eCall, EETS and ITP on fleet telematics, part I.

Jan Stojaspal is a regular contributor to TU.

For more on fleets, see Industry insight: Fleet telematics.

For the latest on fleets, visit Telematics for Fleet Management Europe 2013 on March 19-20 in Amsterdam.

For all the latest telematics trends, check out V2X for Auto Safety and Mobility Europe 2013 on February 20-21 in Frankfurt, Telematics India and South Asia 2013 on April 16-17 in India, Insurance Telematics Europe 2013 on May 8-9 in London, Telematics Russia 2013 on May 14-15 in Moscow and Telematics Detroit 2013 on June 5-6 and Content & Apps for Automotive Europe 2013 on June 17-21 in Munich.

For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports: In-Vehicle Smartphone Integration Report, Human Machine Interface Technologies and Smart Vehicle Technology: The Future of Insurance Telematics.

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