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OEM’s and their telematics collaborations

The automotive telematics industry is scaling new heights with every new launch across the world. Today most of OEM’s across the world are able to introduce the best practices in automotive telematics solely because of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) and business collaborations. When discussing about automotive telematics and the collaborations, a look around the industry vertical is worth the effort and learning about the latest automotive telematics advancements and partnerships, how it brings significant changes in our lives, leaves us with the curiosity to look forward to the next invention in this industry segment.

Last year in August 2011, world’s two leading OEM’s Toyota and Ford inked a MOU on the product development collaboration under which both the companies had plans of developing next-generation standards for in-car telematics and Internet-based services. Toyota has made impressive investments in telematics through applications like the G-BOOK, G-Link. In the U.S., the company has introduced the accessible, easy-to-use Entune.On the other hand, Ford has also made its mark by introducing SYNC – infotainment system developed by Microsoft. In a recent development, Toyota Motor Corp. and Microsoft Corp. have teamed up to deploy a next-generation telematics software platform. Toyota’s telematics applications will run on Microsoft’s Windows Azure platform.

When talking about the Indian scenario, telematics is in process of being absorbed by the OEM segment. Indian OEMs, prefer to keep telematics project developments under wrap and prefers to be tightlipped about their respective future telematics plans. However, some telematics collaborations have been announced by Indian OEM’S. In the said context, Indian OEM giant TATA Motors is actively involved in telematics development. In 2007, the company launched TRAKIT, a vehicle-tracking telematic device for Indian truck drivers and fleet owners; it was launched by the company as original equipment on the Tata Novus series of vehicles. In 2010, Trimble acquired Tata AutoComp Mobility Telematics (TMT) to expand its access to the India market. Recently, TATA Motor’s made an announcement to actively engage itself more into telematics and we saw that coming as HARMAN signed a strategic multi-year relationship to develop and supply branded audio and infotainment solutions for TATA Motors. TATA’s collaborations with other brands in order to take the telematics road ahead in India does make the user segment curious Two other major contenders in the field of telematics Indian market are Mahindra and Ashok Leyland. Mahindra has developed MZone – a Mobile Resource Management platform for logistics companies and fleet operators. Mahindra Engineering has partnered with Mahindra Telematics to bring out innovative products, solutions and services. While Mahindra Engineering designs & develops the systems, Mahindra Telematics manufactures and supports the products. They are providing telematics solution to corporate sector like Airline, BPO, Construction companies, Schools, Transport companies, RAM, Logistics companies. The telematics client list of Mahindra includes Jet Airways, Ultratech Cement, etc.

Ashok Leyland has kept a low profile in the telematics market. In 2011, Ashok Leyland and Cisco signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) under which the companies intended to develop sector-specific solutions that help enable Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communication. The first solution from this collaboration was the iBUS2 – part of the iBUS series from Ashok Leyland that integrates relevant technologies with mobility solutions. Currently, the company is offering its telematics solution ‘Alert’ through distribution partners as well as directly to state transport undertakings and fleet owners. The company has so far installed its solution Alert, a fleet management solution including passenger information system (PIS), on about 800 buses of Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) of Tamil Nadu.

Indian OEM’s are not only focusing towards enriching the driving experience, however they are banking on the benefits of telematics in logistics as well. As a step towards streamlining its logistics operations, Maruti Suzuki has teamed up with Trimble for deploying latter’s Trako Visual Cargo in outbound logistics trucks that transport new cars from the factory to Maruti Suzuki dealers across India.

No matter how many telematics collaborations OEM’s declare, the bottom line remains that the collaboration remains limited to standards and technologies, and .the widespreqd acceptability of the vehicle telematics standard is still at some distance.

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