IoT Blog
IoT Blog

New Car-Sharing IoT Technology Makes Way for Flexible Share Models

by Benoit Tournier, Director of Marketing, Transportation
Experts estimate that by 2025, IoT fleet management will grow into a $15.87 billion industry. In order to corner this valuable market, car-sharing providers need to optimize their processes. This may entail improving their methods for tracking and monitoring vehicles, managing routes and diagnosing potential problems from a remote location. This is where the latest car-sharing technology comes into play. Today, providers have more efficient car-sharing technology at their disposal, including advances in smart SIMs, LTE-M and dead reckoning. 

These technological advances enable greater flexibility for car-sharing providers, allowing them to use a wider range of share models than what was viable in the past. To make the most of this new technology, you’ll need to consider how it will benefit your business model, and how to implement this technology seamlessly. 

Stationary Is No Longer the Only Option
 
In the past, public car-sharing was the primary model that providers used because the existing technology easily supported this type of model. In this system, providers usually offer a platform (via a website or mobile app) which connects prospective car renters to available vehicles. The app also manages every booking and handles payments from renters. 

Although this model has been effective for many businesses, it’s a relatively closed method for managing the shared mobility or fleet, since it still relies on station-to-station rentals. Now that businesses have greater access to new car-sharing technology, stationary car-sharing systems are no longer the only business models available to providers. This new technology can now support a free-float model, which could change the way that many car-sharing providers do business. 

In a free-float share model, every vehicle in the fleet is available within a wide area (this typically includes the range of an entire city). Like other share models, users still use an app to locate and book a vehicle. However, rather than relying on a closed, station-to-station rental, users can pick up, drive and park the vehicle anywhere within the specified region. Once they park the vehicle, they terminate the share contract. 

Today’s car-sharing technology is increasingly capable of supporting a free-float model thanks to the fact that Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technology is becoming far more efficient. The new 3GPP LTE-M standard supports real-time bi-directional applications, offers much wider coverage than current 2G/3G/4G cellular technologies, and requires much less power to operate. Meanwhile, advances in smart SIM technology have given share providers better coverage for their users across multiple networks. What’s more, advances in dead reckoning have provided accurate positioning, allowing renters, vehicle owners and share providers to see exactly where a car has been parked, despite urban canyons or “dead zones” such as tunnels and parking without any sky view. Using these new advances, a free-float share model is now easier to build than ever before, and it could offer your business far greater freedom and flexibility. 

Car-sharing Technology Providers Are Already Seeing Success
 
Companies like Koolicar are already seeing how share model flexibility and IoT car-sharing technology can benefit their users and their market value. Koolicar uses a peer-to-peer share model for their fleet. The company allows car owners to rent out their cars to users. But in order to ensure that the cars are safe to drive, and that renters return cars safely, Koolicar uses the latest technology embedded in each vehicle and their mobile application. To start, Koolicar requires all of the cars in its fleet to meet certain standards, such as having fewer than 100,000 miles on the odometer, being less than 10 years old and meeting minimum mechanical standards. Cars that meet this criterion then go through a black box installation process, which usually takes less than 40 minutes. This embedded technology reports to the Koolicar platform with updates on the vehicle’s status, and also receives data from the platform, such as the renter’s ID to manage access to the vehicle without any key. 

Using this model, Koolicar is able to expand the car share proposition without massive capital expenditures. In other words, the company doesn’t need to buy cars to build its fleet, nor does it need to build a new station to park cars that are ready to be shared. This is especially useful for dense urban areas, where available parking space is scarce, and parking lot costs are astronomical. Instead, by using this model, providers like Koolicar give their users more freedom to park in a space that is most convenient for them without having to worry about returning the car to a specific location. This also saves the company from building new infrastructure, speeding up their time to market. 

How to Create Your Own Car-sharing Model 
To be successful, car-sharing service providers need to maximize the number of eligible households where network coverage is available, allowing more private cars to connect to the application. New technologies like LTE-M and smart SIMs will maximize coverage, allowing more owners to take part in the car-sharing system. Once these cars are on the road, LTE-M, smart SIMs and dead reckoning technology will also make it easier to know when and where cars have been parked, making a free-float system safer and more appealing to private car owners or any car sharing service providers. As these technologies continue to evolve, they will likely play a greater role in the car-sharing industry, and we’ll see more free-float models being employed by businesses. 

Start with Sierra to build your own car-sharing model. We offer full, end-to-end systems—from embedded modules to connectivity to cloud platforms—that are capable of tracking every vehicle in your fleet. Although an end-to-end system will have the most benefits for many businesses, we also offer solutions for any of your car-sharing needs. With our history of innovation and working with the latest technologies, we can offer you the best advice on what your car-sharing company requires to be successful.