Accelerating a trend toward digital management of fleets, automakers General Motors and Stellantis are stepping up their efforts to sell connected car data and fleet management platforms along with the commercial vehicles they build.
A wholly-owned subsidiary of General Motors called BrightDrop has acquired artificial intelligence (AI)-powered fleet optimization software from technology startup Marain, while the Stellantis brand Free2move has partnered with Samsara to deliver data from Stellantis vehicles to Samsara’s Connected Operations Cloud.
“These advanced solutions give fleet owners the ability to drive operational efficiencies, reduce downtime and increase driver safety,” said Free2move North America General Manager Benjamin Maillard in a press release.
These new initiatives join several others in which both automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and aftermarket companies are delivering data-driven platforms to help managers of fleets do everything from track the locations of their vehicles and improve delivery routing to coach drivers and predict when vehicles will need repairs.
Providing Holistic Solutions
With BrightDrop’s acquisition of the software, the manufacturer of electric vehicles and other products for the commercial delivery and logistics industry aims to help fleet managers maximize vehicle uptime and operational efficiency.
When integrated into BrightDrop’s existing software, it will model efficiency gains that can be captured and will aid fleets with their transitions to electric vehicles.
“We’re bringing entirely new ways of doing business to the delivery market by providing a holistic, one-stop-shop portfolio of first- to last-mile solutions that allow fleet customers to do their jobs more efficiently while helping alleviate strain on the workforce and the environment,” said BrightDrop Chief Product Officer Rachad Youssef in a press release.
Delivering Real-Time Data
At Free2move, the partnership with Samsara will enable the fleet, mobility and connected data company to provide data from eligible Stellantis telematics devices to Samsara’s platform with no additional hardware required.
This will allow fleet managers to view on a single dashboard telematics data such as vehicle location, engine hours, fuel use and tire pressure.
“Samsara provides consolidated access to real-time data so that our customers can optimize fleet management, streamline maintenance and maximize uptime,” said Samsara Senior Director of Product Management Chris Mozzocchi in the Stellantis release.
Keeping Vehicles in Service
Another automaker, Ford Motor Company, has found that commercial fleets are today’s best market for software services sold on a subscription basis and that fleets look more closely at software than at other vehicle attributes when they are purchasing new vehicles.
Because fleet operators cannot afford to have their vehicles out of service, they are willing to pay for software subscriptions that help keep the vehicles maintained and on the road, Ford CEO Jim Farley said June 1 while speaking at the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference.
“People are willing to pay for an integrated system of telematics, fleet management, energy management, charging for electric commercial vehicles, prognostics and predictive failure, because when those vehicles go down, that plumber, electrician, police, ambulance lose the revenue — can’t do their job,” Farley said.
Helping Supply Chain Associates Do Their Jobs
Among the many operators of commercial fleets that have adopted software solutions is Walmart, which employs 12,000 drivers.
The retailer announced Monday (June 20) that it has partnered with transportation technology company Platform Science to give the drivers interactive tablets that connect with the company’s driver-workflow system.
This will provide Walmart with real-time visibility of vehicle location, help drivers report developments that slow their progress, and let store employees know when the trucks are likely to arrive.
“We plan to continue improving and evolving our onboard systems based on feedback from our drivers and store associates so our supply chain associates can do their jobs with safety, courtesy and pride,” Walmart said in a press release.