Weekly Brief: You can charge wherever you like — 5.31.2013

In this week’s Brief: BMW Group, BOSCH, Daimler, EnBW, RWE, Siemens, Hubject GmbH, Better Place, Toyota, TomTom, TrafficLand, ABI Research, Trimble, Omnitracs, Telogis, Cartrack, ORBCOMM, u-blox, Tech Mahindra, Navigation Information Systems GLONASS, International M2M Council, Deutsche Telekom, Digi International, Kore Telematics, Oracle and Telit.


Drive through a city or suburb today and you rarely have to go more than a block or two before you hit a gas station. As for charging stations for electric vehicles? Let’s just say the distance between outposts is a bit more stretched. If EVs are to rise to a place of global prominence, charging stations will need to become more commonplace, both to ease range anxiety and to facilitate greater usage of vehicles.


To that end, six players with vested interest in the EV space—BMW Group, BOSCH, Daimler, EnBW, RWE and Siemens—came together this week to announce the “intercharge brand,” a new initiative that aims to provide broad access to public charge stations throughout Europe.


The centerpiece for the brand will be an eRoaming platform that creates a European network for charging stations, where drivers can charge their cars no matter the country or region, all under the same contract. The new organization’s mantra: “Charge wherever you like.” The platform is now under construction.


“By starting the eRoaming platform we and our partners have provided the solution to a fundamental emobility issue,” says Andreas Pfeiffer, managing director of Hubject GmbH, the new company behind the intercharge brand. “Intercharge will enable all users of electric vehicles to charge easily and anywhere.”


As eRoaming launches, another ambitious EV project calls it quits. On May 26, Better Place, an Israeli start-up founded by Shai Agassi, announced that it had filed for the dissolution of the company and the appointment of a temporary liquidator.


Established in 2007, Better Place set out to prove that there was a mass market for electric cars, even at today's prices. The idea was to separate the ownership of the car and the batteries. The customer would buy the car and then subscribe to a mileage plan that came with access to a network of battery switch stations. But after burning through hundreds of millions of dollars in cash and selling fewer than 1,000 cars in Israel and 400 in Denmark, Better Place was forced to pull the plug. 


In other news, Toyota announced a new traffic information service in Japan that will leverage big data to help improve traffic flow and provide real-time maps. The data Toyota plans to harness will come from telematics services that can illuminate vehicle locations and speed, as well as road conditions and other indicators.


Toyota will start accepting applications from businesses in Japan and local governments to use the service at the start of June.


TomTom added live video footage of traffic to its Location Based Services platform. Now developers can add live video footage of actual traffic in the US, UK and Canada to their location-enabled apps. The Traffic Camera API comes courtesy of TrafficLand's network of more than 13,000 roadside traffic cameras.


ABI Research completed its annual competitive assessment of the commercial fleet telematics industry, which concluded that Trimble was the number one service provider. Telogis and Omnitracs came in second and third place respectively.


ABI assessed 19 fleet telematics providers in total based upon far-ranging criteria related to innovation and implementation. The top ranking is a first for Trimble.


Elsewhere in fleet, Cartrack selected M2M specialist ORBCOMM to help Cartrack expand its footprint in Africa. Cartrack is based in South Africa but has identified broad opportunity for high-performance fleet management solutions throughout the African continent.


ORBCOMM will provide satellite data communication services to extend Cartrack’s current range of GSM logistics and telematics solutions.


Meanwhile, it has been an eventful week for GLONASS, Russia’s answer to GPS.


First, u-blox unveiled a satellite positioning module that supports GLONASS alongside GPS and Japan’s QZSS, thus enhancing speed and accuracy. The MAX-M5Q is specifically targeted at Russia’s upcoming emergency call system (ERA-GLONASS), which aims to deliver a more robust telematics offering than Europe’s eCall.


Indian firm Tech Mahindra then committed to developing chipsets based on both GLONASS and GPS for the Indian market. They’ll partner with Navigation Information Systems GLONASS on the initiative.


Finally, some of the biggest names in the telecommunications and telematics space came together in Las Vegas to announce the International M2M Council (IMC), a new trade association that will help companies install and optimize M2M systems.


The goal is to unleash the Internet of Things, from cars to heart monitors to utility meters, and show companies how they can reduce costs and tap new opportunities. The organization’s founding members include Deutsche Telekom, Digi International, Kore Telematics, Oracle, ORBCOMM and Telit.


"As the M2M industry enters a phase of broad-based growth, now's the time for leadership companies in the M2M community to create a forum where they can share lessons learned, best practices and ideas for future growth," says Patrick Shay, EVP of sales and marketing of ORBCOMM. "The IMC will bridge suppliers, M2M users and standards organizations around the globe."


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


For exclusive business analysis and insight about telematics applications, see Industry insight: Telematics and apps

For all the latest telematics trends, check out Telematics Detroit 2013 on June 5-6,Content & Apps for Automotive Europe 2013 on June 18-19 in Munich, 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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