GreenRoad is targeting 30% growth within the next two years thanks to the launch of an in-vehicle camera system, which links to its driver behaviour telematics product.
The company, which started in the bus and coach market and now covers almost every type of industry and size of vehicle, recently secured £17.5 million funding to expand globally and has opened a new sales office in Leeds.
“We doubled the team here at the beginning of the year and we have big plans to continue doing that in 2016 and the years after,” says chief executive officer Zeev Braude.
Key to that growth is the camera system, which underwent a ‘soft’ launch in June.
The system records dangerous or noteworthy events on the road and in the vehicle using both a forward-facing and driver-facing camera.
Fleet managers receive footage taken 15 seconds before an incident occurred and 15 seconds after. This is combined with driver behaviour data on harsh braking, accelerating and cornering, speeding and lane handling taken from the telematics system.
“Less is more from our perspective, because people are too busy to be on the telematics product all day,” says Braude. “So just managing things by exception gives them a simple way to go through what they need to do.
“We just give the footage for the risky events and from that both the driver and manager can learn. It is in context because they can see exactly on the map where it happened and what route the driver had taken, which gives the driver and manager a good understanding of what happened and how to avoid a similar event.”
Having two cameras allows the manager to see what the driver saw on the road but also how the driver reacted.
“It is not a disciplinary tool,” Braude says. “We don’t support that approach. The whole concept of GreenRoad is to bring your mistakes to a conscious level, and then correction, to avoid doing them again.
“In the UK people want to understand how their drivers are behaving and how to use it as a coaching tool. We are seeing growing demand for that.”
Explaining to drivers that it is coaching tool and not a disciplinary one also helps to overcome any ‘spy in the cab’ concerns, according to Braude.
“We have large fleets that have strong unions. Once everybody understands that it’s a tool that helps your business improve and that drivers’ errors are ones to be fixed and not to be ignored and knowing accurate data benefits the company and makes the drivers happy because they are part of a stronger business, those concerns go away fairly quickly,” he says.
Customers can, if they choose, have access to all of the camera footage rather than just incidents deemed ‘red’ (risky), but this is not part of the basic offering.
The camera footage is recorded on an SD card, but the data goes to the cloud and customers can view it via the web portal GreenRoad Central.
The footage is not only useful for coaching drivers, it can be vital in fraudulent insurance claims.
“It is a defensive tool,” says Braude. “If there is a claim against one of your drivers you have the video to prove what happened. Telematics data alone wouldn’t be enough to demonstrate that.”
Insurers are not yet offering a discount to fleets that fit GreenRoad’s in-vehicle camera system but discounts are possible with the driver behaviour telematics system.
“Our customers benefit from a dramatic reduction in loss ratio ,” Braude says. “Some will get a discount in year one; most will get it in year two after they have demonstrated a reduction in the loss ratio.”
Fleet managers can also expect significant fuel savings.
“We did a pilot with a delivery company which has a fleet of vans,” Braude says. “We were able to demonstrate a 25% reduction in fuel between what we call ‘green’ driving and what was their normal driving. A 25% reduction in fuel is the difference between making a delivery profitable and making a loss on that delivery. And that’s all in the hands of the driver.”
Each customer is allocated an account manager and change manager who will help them to generate their return on investment (ROI) as quickly as possible.
They will offer advice about how to talk to their drivers, help them to understand what areas are at risk, do quarterly calls with them and send them analytics on their performance. “So it helps dramatically to get ROI,” says Braude.
Customers typically realise a full ROI within three months of their adoption of the complete GreenRoad solution.
Companies that are looking for a low cost telematics option are catered for with the GreenRoad smartphone edition, which is being expanded this year. It will offer customers tracking, driver behaviour, vehicle health information and, potentially, the ability to connect to cameras without needing to install anything.
“The driver has a mobile app and every time they get into their car it will start working automatically without them having to do anything,” Braude says.
“When it doesn’t work, it sleeps – so it doesn’t use the battery.
“It will give the driver feedback on their behaviour the same way our in-vehicle unit will and it will also connect to the OBD-II device to give an odometer reading, fuel reading, etc.”
The new smartphone edition will be at least half the price of the hardware, depending on fleet size and configuration.
“For customers who are considering telematics, but don’t want to buy hardware and put it in their vehicles for three years, here’s an alternative that can run on a mobile and is an equally reliable quality of product,” Braude says.
He believes it will be particularly popular with SMEs.
“They give their drivers a smartphone to use for point of sale inventory, scheduling etc., so they can give them another app and now they will have telematics that will cost them practically nothing,” he says.
GreenRoad intends to promote its mobile app to vehicle manufacturers due to the growth in the connected car.
“That’s the angle we’re interested in talking to OEMs, not the aftermarket side or the traditional boxes,” Braude says.
“I believe the impact will only be once the telematics is part of the infotainment system and not as a black box you put in the vehicle.”
Is real-time feedback a distraction?
GreenRoad’s driver behaviour telematics system gives drivers feedback while they are on the road through a series of lights on the dashboard which flash red, amber or green, depending on how safely they are driving.
It identifies 150 different manoeuvres that the driver may carry out in five categories (braking, accelerating, speeding, cornering and lane handling).
Critics suggest that systems that give in-vehicle feedback are distracting for drivers, but Braude argues that GreenRoad is different.
“Our traffic light system is very basic,” he says. “It’s solid green if you’re driving well. If there is an event it will blink three times. It comes three seconds after the event so it will never distract you during the event. If you have too many events it will move to solid amber or solid red. But that’s it.
“The whole concept of GreenRoad is keep it simple: less is more. We don’t think too much information necessarily gives better results.”