OEM or Aftermarket Telematics or Both?

The major advantages of any telematics system include reduced downtime, data insight, streamlined maintenance and improved safety.

Fleet managers have a few choices for obtaining telematics capabilities.
Fleet managers have a few choices for obtaining telematics capabilities.
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For fleet managers relying on GPS and monitoring data to make informed decisions, telematics is essential. They require telematics solutions that provide deep insights and real-time data across their entire fleet.

Today, fleet managers have a few choices for obtaining telematics capabilities. They can use in-house solutions provided by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), or they can opt for third-party providers to install the necessary hardware. While more OEMs are entering the market with their telematics solutions, each option presents unique advantages that may cater to specific fleet needs and objectives for data analytics. Considering these options is crucial for fleet managers who want to optimize their operations effectively.

What Are OEM Telematics?

OEMs recognize the value of integrating telematics tools directly into their vehicles during manufacturing. OEM telematics refers to the inclusion of embedded telematics components within vehicles right from the factory floor. This encompasses the hardware integrated by the OEM into the vehicle and the cloud-based platform responsible for collecting and managing the data transmitted by this hardware.

For OEMs, the adoption of embedded telematics tools is becoming standard practice. It is anticipated that, eventually, all newly manufactured vehicles will be equipped with this innovative technology. Manufacturers incorporate these tools to address the demands of their customer base, a significant portion of which comprises businesses managing fleets. It's important to distinguish OEM telematics from aftermarket telematics solutions.

Aftermarket telematics refers to installing telematics hardware and software after the vehicle is purchased. These solutions are designed to function across vehicles from different manufacturers, regardless of fleet size, vehicle type, make or model.

Even fleet managers investing in new vehicles equipped with OEM telematics may find aftermarket solutions necessary. Since many fleets comprise a mix of vehicles, some with OEM telematics and others without, aftermarket telematics bridges this gap. It allows fleet managers to access data from all vehicles in their fleet, regardless of their telematics integration status. This bridge provides a comprehensive and unified view of fleet performance. It enables the consolidation of data from vehicles and mobile equipment across multiple manufacturers into a single, centralized platform.

Why Are Manufacturers Installing Native Telematics?

In today's business world, manufacturers understand how valuable data can be. Accurate insights collected directly from vehicles are crucial for better fleet management, making profitable decisions and finding ways to reduce waste.

The introduction of telematics options by OEMs represents a significant step forward. Before these solutions were available, manufacturers and customers may have missed out on deeper insights. For OEMs, this presents a great opportunity to provide products that offer detailed insights into fleet statistics upon purchase, meeting the needs of their customers more effectively.

What Are the Benefits of OEM Telematics Devices?

Incorporating a telematics platform into a fleet's management provides several advantages for a company.

Reduced Downtime

Extended periods of downtime can pose significant challenges for fleet managers, emphasizing the importance of finding solutions to maintain continuous operations. OEM telematics offer a viable solution. Unlike aftermarket options, OEMs provide vehicles with preinstalled telematics hardware, ready for immediate activation. This eliminates the need for post-acquisition hardware installation and simplifies program activation. While aftermarket installations for large fleets can take months, activating factory-ready fleet telematics typically requires just a few hours, saving time and resources.

Enhanced Data Insights

Fleets using OEM telematics gain access to a broader range of data, providing deeper insights into vehicle performance and operations. Embedded hardware and sensors offer valuable insights that are often unavailable to third-party providers.

  • By leveraging this comprehensive data, fleet managers can: Address unanswered questions
  • Identify areas for improvement
  • Make informed decisions supported by thorough analytics

Improved Safety Measures

Many automotive manufacturers offer exclusive safety benefits to clients, including vehicle monitoring, security features and maintenance services within a unified platform. By using manufacturer telematics, fleet managers enhance safety monitoring across their fleet and provide valuable feedback to OEMs for enhancing vehicle safety standards.

Streamlined Maintenance Processes

Opting for OEM telematics as the preferred provider streamlines maintenance and service scheduling, offering convenience and efficiency. Manufacturers can proactively inform drivers about their vehicle's specific maintenance needs and provide real-time diagnostics.

Additionally, many OEMs offer dedicated apps for their telematics platforms, enabling centralized fleet data management, driver input, and seamless scheduling of fleet maintenance services directly through the app interface. This integrated approach enhances operational efficiency, reduces downtime, and ensures optimal fleet performance.

What Are the Challenges of OEM Telematics Devices?

While OEM telematics systems offer a newer option in the market, there remains room for improvement. Unlike their aftermarket counterparts, these systems lack brand neutrality and may present challenges for fleets with diverse vehicle compositions.

Mixed Fleets

A significant portion of fleets comprise a mix of vehicle models, makes, and ages. This diversity poses logistical hurdles for managers considering OEM telematics adoption. Utilizing OEM systems may result in fragmented data across multiple platforms or incomplete insights across all fleet assets. Unless a company intends to entirely overhaul its fleet with newer vehicles—an endeavor requiring substantial financial investment—relying solely on a single manufacturer's system may prove impractical.

Choice Limitations 

Dependence on OEM systems may restrict options for companies that prefer specific vehicle makes for distinct operational roles. Managers may find themselves compelled to compromise preferences in favor of fleet uniformity, potentially undermining cost-effectiveness and productivity. In certain scenarios, leveraging vehicles from specific manufacturers in designated roles may offer substantial operational advantages.

Potential Conflicts of Interest

For fleet managers relying on data insights to optimize fleet size, OEM systems present a nuanced challenge. Telematics systems provided directly by manufacturers may lack incentives to advise on fleet downsizing, as such recommendations could conflict with the manufacturer's commercial interests. In contrast, aftermarket providers remain independent of manufacturer affiliations, alleviating concerns related to conflicts of interest and ensuring impartial data-driven decision-making processes.

How to Overcome These Challenges?

With mixed fleets, contractors and fleet managers need a single source to view all the equipment at one time. In these instances, solutions are available.

Consider Aftermarket Telematics

If you're dealing with a variety of vehicles or need more options for data and customization, aftermarket solutions could be worth exploring. They are flexible and let you own your data.

Explore Integration Possibilities

Some OEM systems can partly connect with other platforms. Look into whether you can link your OEM data to fleet management software for a unified view of all your vehicles.

Long-Term Fleet Planning

When planning for the future of your fleet, think about what you'll need down the road. If sticking with one brand is important, OEM systems might be the way to go. But if you need more flexibility, mixing OEM with aftermarket options for specific vehicles could be better.

Analyze Data & Compare Performance

No matter which system you choose, analyzing your data is key to finding ways to improve. Comparing how your fleet performs against industry standards helps you find areas where you can make changes, even if you're using OEM data.OEM Telematics Versus Aftermarket TelematicsOEM Telematics Versus Aftermarket TelematicsNEXGEN

Closing Thoughts

Choosing between OEM and aftermarket telematics depends on your fleet's needs. If your fleet consists mainly of one brand and you value warranty coverage and easy maintenance, OEM telematics might be a good fit. But for fleets with a mix of vehicles or those needing more data options, aftermarket solutions offer more flexibility. The key is to consider your fleet size, vehicle types and how you'll use the data. By comparing both options and looking at your long-term goals, you can choose the telematics system that best helps you manage your fleet efficiently.