What is vehicle telematics?

What is vehicle telematics?
truck with data points for vehicle telematics

Telematics is a merging of the terms telecommunications and informatics. The technology links mobile data interchange with computer-based information processing. Thus, vehicle data can be digitally transferred and effectively utilized in a system platform for dispatchers.

Telematics systems continuously capture data via mobile vehicle units (“on-board unit”) and transfer it to a server which feeds it into the system platform. Here the data is processed and displayed in a clear structure. Simultaneously the data is analysed and archived which makes it easier to make informed decisions. The data is available in real-time for fleet managers and drivers.


Icon On-Board-Unit LKW








Vehicle telematics supports various features which enable an efficient fleet management. It accomplishes…

… more than mechanical read-out

Telematics increase the reliability, timely availability and quality of information significantly. Thus, fleet managers get access to a substantially higher amount of and more precise data. 

… more than data transfer

Telematics goes beyond mere data capture. The intelligent combination and processing of data creates transparent processes and gives a comprehensive overview of all relevant operations.

… more than a mere human

Telematics collects and interprets data in a detailed and nuanced way. No human could accomplish a comparable performance in terms of extent and coverage. Thus, fleet managers can access information which wouldn’t be available without telematics. Time-consuming routines can be automated as well.

Overview of typical functions


Tour planning

With just a few clicks the system converts pre-combined tours into daily scheduled tours which can be matched to a driver. Telematics systems determine the optimal route by taking map data, available traffic information and toll rates into account which can be directly transferred to the vehicle’s navigation device.


Vehicle localization

Via GPS data the system can display at any given time where all vehicles are located. That provides fleet managers with full arrival control. Route deviations are noticed immediately, thus, the driver or fleet manager can inform clients about delays. This data helps also with the so-called geo-fencing where geo-zones can be specified which the vehicle mustn’t leave. That prevents vehicle theft and provides security for drivers.


Communication between fleet manager and driver

Telematics enables a structured communication between fleet manager and driver. Orders can be transmitted easily and quickly to the cockpit, as well as tour data and planning changes. The data is saved and thus allows to trace sent and received messages even months later. The message transmission without any change in media avoids error-prone intermediate steps which occur e.g. with phone or radio communication.


Driving times record and read-out of tachograph data

Data of the driver card and digital tachograph can be easily read out; remote modules enable even an automatic read-out. The system records driving and resting time of drivers, driven kilometres, speeding and other relevant information. The transmitted data is displayed clearly arranged and provides information about time balance and social infringements. Reports can be created with just a few clicks. Thus, fleet managers can fulfil their legal obligations without additional time and deployment planning is made easier.


Vehicle management and driver’s evaluation

Telematics systems can also access data of the FMS (fleet management system). The analyses take information like vehicle speed, current fuel consumption, tank level and kilometres until next service into account. That simplifies for instance the planning of maintenance deadlines. Also, the driving behaviour can be captured and analysed via FMS data which supports optimization and thus, saving of expenses.

What to consider when buying a telematics system

  • Define requirements
    You should have a detailed knowledge of the proceedings in your company based on an in-depth analysis. Thus, you can define the respective requirements for a telematics system.

  • Check the compatibility with existing systems
    Different elements have to be considered, e.g. already existing management systems. Not all telematics platforms provide the matching interface connections to integrate them without a problem. Manufacturer platforms for example work for the most part only with the respective vehicles.

  • Data import into the new system
    Another important feature is the option for data import. The system should provide a data import feature to migrate master and address data, pre-combined tours and other information.

  • Keep scalability in mind
    Fleet and company size are also of particular relevance for the choice of a telematics system. Some modules are better suited for smaller companies, whereas others are directed towards bigger corporations. Professional advice is strongly recommended.

  • Pay attention to good support structures
    Generally speaking, local companies which develop in-house solutions are preferable. They appeal to costumers because of their expert advice and in-house support.

  • Select the server’s location
    The server’s location determines the system setup. Suppliers of web-based platforms provide a telematics server to archive data in a secure way. For systems without a provided server an entire server and computer infrastructure has to be installed in your company. That increases the expenses significantly, which makes it less attractive especially for small companies.