Telematics as a vetting tool in car-sharing fleets explored by Siegfried Mortkowitz.

New mobility services are creating new relationships between drivers and vehicles, and potentially between car owners and their vehicles. The rise of who peer-to-peer (P2P) car-sharing has enabled owners to leverage the times their vehicles are idle by allowing strangers to rent them for short periods of time.

In P2P relationships, the most important commodity is trust: the car owner must believe that the person who will drive the car is competent and reliable. Benoit Tournier, director, marketing and business development, at Sierra Wireless, regards this as an excellent opportunity to exploit telematics technology and UBI driving data to make the experience more transparent for the car owner of and less expensive for the driver.

“This is where we will see connections between various types of stakeholders and networks,” he says. “Car-sharing companies are closely connected to car insurance companies today. What is really important for car-sharing is the trust you build in your service for the car owner. If the car owner is not 100% sure that his car is properly insured when it is shared, then the service will not fly. One of the enhanced requirements for the telematics device in the car is to monitor the driver’s behaviour. UBI should be fully integrated, so you can score the driver.”

He views this as an “enhanced” function because, currently, “the basic requirement of the telematics device is to connect the car to the car-sharing cloud platform, to enable basic functions, such as opening the door. The cherry on the cake is now to add more ‘trust’ with UBI driver behaviour reports or alerts, based on accurate telematics scoring.”

This will generate data that can be used to make the service more efficient and more reliable, Tournier believes. “So, then you have lots of data of driver behaviour. These data are owned by the car-sharing company but even more important is that the drivers are ranked among their peers. So if the driver leaves the car dirty, which is reported by the owner, or drives badly, he will get a bad score. This will be communicated to the entire [car-share] community.”

The Paris-based P2P car-sharing company Koolicar is using telematics in its service. It installs a telematics device, at its own cost, in the vehicle of every owner that wishes to lease his or her car to a driver through Koolicar.

The company’s founder and president, Stéphane Savouré says the device acts as a key to open the car and tracks the mileage and time of the rental, because the cost of the rental and the insurance is calculated per kilometre or per minute.

“Customers can open the car with the Koolicar app,” he explains. “When the rental is about to start, they receive a Google map showing the exact location of the car, another service performed via the telematics device. A key appears on screen of your phone. You press it and the car opens.” Koolicar customers can also use the company badge to open the car via the device, and a smartwatch. “You can tell your smartwatch, ‘Koolicar, open,’ and the car will open,” Savouré says.

A more important use could eventually see the company track and rank drivers, using UBI-type scoring, to give owners more transparency and control over who drives their cars.  At the moment, Koolicar has a system in which car owners report if the driver has left the vehicle dirty or damaged.And if there are too many complaints about a specific driver, he will be forced to leave the Koolicar community and not be allowed to rent a car through the company again.

However, the company will soon launch the ‘ecodriving challenge’, where some members of the community will be able to measure their driving score and receive advice on how to drive in a more eco-friendly manner. “This will be achieved through a partner who will provides a dedicated smartphone application,” Savouré says. 

The aim of the testing is alsoto see what effect this will have on both partners of the car-share contract. As Savouré puts it: “We want to see how much assurance this will give the car owner and we need to see how the driver will react to this. We will get feedback from the community, and if there is more benefit than there are problems, we will adopt it.”

He explains that this may not be as straightforward as it appears, since in his view car-sharing is a kind of zero-sum system: “P2P car-sharing is all about balancing the benefits for the car owner and for the driver.  For example, if the rental price is high, it might be good for the car owner but not so good for the renter. In a similar way, if you decide to use a device and get more control over the driving, this might be good for the car owner but may be bad for the driver.”

In the long term, Savouré explains, the car-sharing business will be very different as more and more cars in the fleet are connected. “The [car] OEM will have a lot of data about the car and how it is being driven,” he explains. “We put the device in the car because cars are not connected yet. We actually designed our system as software that will eventually be downloaded and installed in your connected car.”

[Ins.Mortkowitz.2017.02.03]

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