Weekly Brief: eCall delayed again as MEPs reach new consensus

In this week’s Brief: eCall, European Union, Internal Market Committee, TomTom, Fleetlogic, Masternaut, ublox, lesswire AG, Google, Parkopedia, Jaguar Land Rover, ABI Research, MiX Telematics and OneTierra.


Fasten your seatbelts, we’re in for a bumpy ride.


eCall, the European Union initiative that would mandate telematics-based, automatic-emergency-call technology in all new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles in Europe, has hit yet another speed bump. Last Thursday Members of European Parliament in the Internal Market Committee gave the project a thumbs up. That’s the good news. The bad news: It won’t be mandated until March 31, 2018.


The previous deadline had been October 1, 2017. And before that, October 1, 2015. And before that … the broken deadlines reach back almost all the way to 2001, the first year that the eCall initiative was floated in Germany. Granted, each legislative win for eCall is important at this point, and the latest victory in the Internal Market Committee is a definite step forward.


But plenty of political hurdles remain as eCall comes before the full European Parliament and all member states. Technical hurdles abound as well. A recent field trial in Belgium, for example, revealed that drivers often had to wait 20 seconds between their cars placing an eCall and an operator or emergency responder actually picking up.                                       

In other news, TomTom added to its recent spate of acquisitions with the purchase of Fleetlogic, a leading fleet management service provider in the Netherlands. The Fleetlogic acquisition includes the companies TripXs and Inalise and adds 27,000 subscriptions to the TomTom Telematics installed base, bringing the new total to more than 450,000 vehicles — toe to toe with Europe’s other leading fleet management provider Masternaut. No further details of the deal were disclosed.


Swiss-based ublox was also busy on the acquisition front, as it purchased a portfolio of short-range radio modules from lesswire AG. The purchase includes a bundle of off-the-shelf products, equipment and a team of experts in connected car and short-range-connectivity modules. ublox is intent on pioneering the advanced safety and collision avoidance space with robust, reliable communications and automotive positioning electronics.


Google released a YouTube video highlighting Android Auto. The video is part of its DevBytes series that helps explain answers about Google products for the Google developer community. Check out the video here.


The Wikipedia for parking has come to Asia. Parkopedia announced that its in-car parking service is now operational in China, with offices in Shanghai and its first customer in Jaguar Land Rover up and running. Parkopedia says that it has more automakers lined up to deploy in 2015. With China live, Parkopedia is now active in 52 countries covering nearly 40 million parking spots.

Finally, ABI Research published new research, Commercial Telematics in Latin America, suggesting that the Latin American market for fleet management is starting to expand beyond a blinkered focus on security due to increasing fuel prices and other pressures for fleets to be efficient. This could make the region more hospitable to telematics services, which have historically struggled in countries like Brazil and Mexico due to the narrow focus on security and the challenge of actually getting theft recovery services right. “Companies hope that by offering value-added services like driver performance, route optimization, and vehicle maintenance they will stand a better chance in this region,” ABI writes in its report, noting that some companies, like MiX Telematics and OneTierra, have even gone as far as purposefully not targeting security applications in a bid to drive demand for other telematics applications.


The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.


Andrew Tolve is a regular TU contributor.


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