Weekly Brief: Michelin bets big on Brazilian fleet management

Weekly Brief: Michelin bets big on Brazilian fleet management

In this week’s Brief: Michelin, Sascar, Contran 245, Toyota, Panasonic, BMW, Google, Tesla, NTT DOCOMO, NAVIBIZ, OnStar, NavInfo, AutoNavi, Tracker, TomTom and AppCarousel.

As the World Cup got underway in Brazil last week, tire company Michelin made some big news off the pitch in Sao Paulo, where it announced its intention to purchase Brazil’s largest digital fleet management company, Sascar, for $600 million. Sascar manages 33,000 fleets predominantly in Brazil’s independent and small truck fleet segment.

A couple factors are motivating the deal: First, the Brazilian government’s recent decision to postpone Contran 245, a mandate for stolen vehicle tracking devices, has left the door open for private service providers like Sascar to address the rampant vehicle theft problem in the country. The company has posted an average of 16% growth over the past three years, an enticing stat for Michelin, which is eager to expand its service offering for truckers throughout South America.

Second, a Sascar acquisition will enable Michelin to speed the growth of its truck tire business in Brazil, while Michelin will offer Sascar access to its major customers throughout the South American continent — a win win. The acquisition is subject to approval from the Brazilian competition authorities.

"Michelin will benefit from the client base and technical and marketing skills built up by Sascar in the rapidly expanding telematics market for professional truck fleets and thereby accelerate the development of services for its customers worldwide," says Michelin’s CEO Jean-Dominique Senard.

In other news, it was a hot week for vehicle-home integration, as Toyota and Panasonic announced that they’re co-developing a cloud service that links cars to home appliances. The service will include different apps for different appliances; for example, an app linked with vehicle GPS data will remind the user to turn off the air conditioner before leaving and also enable the user to turn it on remotely from the vehicle before arriving home. The new service will be launched as soon as the second half of this year.

BMW meanwhile launched the BMW Smart Charging App, which allows BMW i customers to identify the best rates and times for charging their electric vehicles at home. BMW says the app has the potential to save customers as much as $400 annually on their electric bills. The app is currently available on Android and iOS but only for “BMW Electronauts,” who, like Google Explorers for Google Glass, are participating in a field trial to help BMW roll out innovative electric vehicle solutions.

In Japan, Tesla announced that its Model S for the Japanese market, out this summer, will include in-car telematics for navigation, high-resolution maps, on-demand Internet radio, and other Internet of Things technology. Tesla selected NTT DOCOMO, one of Japan’s leading personalized mobile solutions provider, to deliver the M2M connectivity and mobile communications support for Tesla’s telematics services in Japan.

In China, local telematics news site NAVIBIZ reported that OnStar snuffed out its relationship with map provider NavInfo in favor of AutoNavi. AutoNavi was OnStar’s original partner in China for online navigation, maps and real-time traffic status. NAVIBIZ says NavInfo failed to deliver on its previous contract and that AutoNavi, in regaining the business, has won the largest product order in Chinese telematics.

In South Africa, Tracker released a new insurance telematics app that harnesses smartphone-based sensors to provide insurers with the necessary data to offer usage-based insurance programs. The app gathers trip data, such as the frequency with which a driver speeds, texts, places phone calls or slams on his breaks, and feeds that data into an algorithm that produces a score. The insurer can then use that score to place drivers in the appropriate bucket. The insurer also receives data from the app in real time.

Finally, returning to fleet, TomTom launched a new open developer portal that allows developers to build thirty-party apps for TomTom customers. The portal provides developers with software developer kits, a document library, case studies and links to TomTom content downloads. TomTom says the portal is live and already has its first applications, including AppCarousel, which provides TomTom a fully customisable app store for businesses to match their choice of apps, branding and features.

“We believe that every business on the move should be able to harness the power of our technology to work more efficiently and bring exciting new services,” says Corinne Vigreux, TomTom’s managing director. “This new developer platform makes it easier to integrate business applications with TomTom technologies.”

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 contributor to Telematics Update. 

For all the latest telematics trends, check out Advanced Automotive Safety USA 2014 on July 8-9 in Novi, Michigan, Insurance Telematics USA 2014 on Sept. 3-4 in Chicago, Telematics Japan 2014 in October in Tokyo, Telematics Munich 2014 on Nov. 10-11 in Munich, Germany, and The Open Mobile Summit on Nov. 10-11 in San Francisco.

For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports: Insurance Telematics Report 2014Connected Fleet Report 2014The Automotive HMI Report 2013 and Telematics Connectivity Strategies Report 2013.

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