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Issue #2003 - 17 (May 2003)
(Updated May 24, 2003)


GM Enters Wireless Fleet Management Service

General Motors Corp. will offer small and midsize truck-fleet buyers a packaged wireless data and fleet-tracking system based on software from Gearworks Inc. and data phones from Nextel Communications Inc. 

GM is aiming the one-year, no-cash wireless fleet-tracking and data option at service industries that run small fleets of between 15 and 50 vehicles, according to Tim Cavanaugh, marketing product manager for fleet and commercial operations at GM. Cavanaugh said the Etrace xt wireless fleet option, announced yesterday, will be available on GMC and Chevrolet pickup trucks and vans, but not on semi trucks. 

GM believes the market for the wireless fleet-tracking package is about 4 million vehicles, Cavanaugh said, with plumbing, cable TV, HVAC contractors and courier companies seen as likely purchasers. In January, Cincinnati-based Roto-Rooter Inc. rolled out a wireless data and fleet-tracking system based on Gearworks software and Nextel phones (sees story). 

Cavanaugh said he expects a "slow start" for the wireless package but anticipates that the program will grow consistently while providing GM with a competitive edge over its rivals. 

Scott Hull, vice president of marketing at Minneapolis-based Gearworks, said the GM package is similar to the system used by Roto-Rooter and includes the Nextel phone and the company's Web-based back-office software. 

According to Hull, Gearworks would host GM truck-fleet customer applications on its servers, with access available over the Web. Since the Nextel phone includes a built-in GPS receiver, the software will allow dispatchers to track the location of individual vehicles in the fleet, Hull said. The Java-based Nextel phone, which offers data speeds of between 20kbit and 40kbit/sec., allows dispatchers to send and receive simple text-based messages from workers in the field. 

The GM deal is good for a year, Hull said, after which fleet owners can continue the service with a plan that costs $34 per phone per month for Gearworks support and $32.99 per phone per month for Nextel data services. Cavanaugh said he expected the "re-up rate to be very high" because fleet customers will have "seen how effective this is in scheduling jobs." 

Ernie Cormier, vice president of business solutions for Reston, Va.-based Nextel, said the cost of the data service could drop, since the $32.99 covers 10MB of data a month and some GM fleet customers might be able to get by with less. While rival wireless carriers have focused much of their data business on either consumers or road warriors, Cormier said Nextel has zeroed in on what he called "the guy in the truck. ... Broad growth [in wireless data] will come from that guy in the truck." 

Source: ComputerWorld story

MobileInfo Comments and Advisory: GM's entry into fleet management will commoditize fleet management to small and medium size fleet operators. It will reduce costs and take the mystery out of wireless-based fleet management. Fleet managers should not let the truck drivers on the highway without fleet management - cost is well-worth the benefits. 

Note: This news release may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and section 21E of Securities Exchange act of 1934 in USA. Similar provisions exist in other countries. There is no assurance that the stipulated plans of vendors will be implemented. MobileInfo does not warrant the authenticity of the information. Readers should take appropriate caution in developing plans utilizing these products, services and technology architectures.  All trademarks used in this summary are the property of their respective owners.

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