Providers of mobile app based telematics are rethinking their business models as Paul Myles finds out talking to Mark Pearson, business development director of wejo

Pearson said the Cheshire-based app provider is deep into negotiations with several car manufacturers, talks that gain even more importance since the European Parliament’s ruling to make eCall compulsory on vehicles within three years (see Green light for eCall a telematics game-changer?)

Pearson said: “We are in quite close negotiations with a number of parties at the moment in the OEM space because this revolves around the car manufacturers in an ever changing world that is becoming much more connected inside the car.”

Yet, he says it is the design of wejo’s business model for its mobile phone app that makes the prospect of it translating into an embedded telematics device within the car that gives it a head-start in finding a major automotive partner.

Pearson explained: “This is because of the way we have built the wejo business – it’s been created with consideration to the progression of embedded systems within the vehicle. So now, thanks to our strategy so far, we can provide a link to help the car makers understand their customers better. We provide them with not just what is going on in the vehicle but also with the habits and lifestyles of the drivers that could become their customers.

“This points them in the direction of why that person bought the vehicle and how it fits with their lifestyle. So they get two opportunities: to better predict the person most likely to be a customer for their brand and be proactive with things like diagnostics services. They’ll be able to communicate to the driver that changes they make to their driving will show a real benefit to them.

“We have had Pan-European and US discussions with leading brands about this concept.”

Pearson said wejo’s focus on the end user rather than the vehicle is one of the aspects that makes it a flexible and agile model while keeping costs and complexity to a minimum.

He said: “Our app solution focuses on the driver, not the vehicle, which is a different approach to others in the market place because we focus on the driver in our own specific way.

“In the fleet space, what we offer can be easily accessed by businesses of all sizes including the smallest SMEs where, perhaps, telematics and tracking solutions have not proven themselves to be cost effective to them in the past.

“Maybe, they’ve required a certain level of competence to use them, certain amount of time and investment in order to put the solution in place and then to use it.

“What we wanted to do was to present a business critical data solution that is easily accessed, which can give you data in a very short space of time, and to give it to anybody with any level of competence.”

Pearson said that in line with wejo’s focus on the driver, it charges businesses and annual fee from £21 per head for each driver on their books and can cater for fleets from as small as six drivers.

He also point to wejo’s special relationship with consumer insight specialists Consumer Intelligence as adding value to any future partnership or joint project with a car manufacturer.

Pearson said: “Using their app, Viewsbank, a research and data collection service, we’ll be able to understand the habits of about 40,000 people who use this service to build up a very intelligent data silos based on the habits and mobility history of people from all walks of life.

“The more we understand about consumers and businesses the better we can present propositions that are more likely to be of interest to them.”

One area that may still benefit from a mobile phone based app telematics solution is for businesses making use of ‘grey fleets’, those whose employees use their private vehicles for work.

Pearson explained: “There’s a big hole in the market right now with ‘grey fleet’ management and our research indicates there are about 15M grey fleet drivers in the UK. At the same time, HMRC states there could be as many as 5M of these that are uninsured in that they are not correctly insured.

“The problem with grey fleet drivers is that no-one ever wants a device installed into their own personal cars. Whereas our solution simply puts an app on the driver’s phone, which can be manipulated to work just within business hours and there personal hours data can be excluded and doesn’t infringe on their personal lives.

“For the business it gives them reassurance that, from a duty of care perspective, they are managing not only the drivers in company vehicles but also their employees using their own vehicles for work.