European fleet managers association EUFMA founded
Three leading fleet-owner associations from Germany, Austria and Switzerland have founded the European Fleet and Mobility Association (EUFMA). National associations from other European countries are invited to join.
As fleet and mobility management is becoming an increasingly international topic, it made sense for the fleet associations to look beyond their borders, too. “Although there are local differences, like different taxation and legislation schemes, objectives like TCO control, cost-efficiency or attention to driver behaviour are cross-border topics. Also many members represent companies with a certain international scope with subsidiaries, fleets and drivers in various countries. Hence there is value in sharing best practices and putting fleet-owners in contact with each other.”
Represent all European fleets
The initiative came from the German fleet-owner association Bundesverband Fuhrparkmanagement (BVF), who has 400 members with a fleet of in total 220,000 vehicles. The Swiss association Schweizerischer Fahrzeugflottenbesitzer- Verband (SFFV) counts 300 members with a fleet of 100,000 vehicles, and the Fuhrparkverbandes Austria (FVA) counts 15,000 vehicles.
“Many decisions that play a major role in operative tasks and legal framework conditions are today planned and decided at the European level,” said Marc-Oliver Prinzing, CEO for the German fleet association BVF. “In this light, lobby representation on the European level obviously makes sense,” added Henning Heise, chairman of the Austrian association FVA.
EUFMA’s goal is to act as the representative for all European fleets. The organisational and process work will be taken in hand in the next few weeks. “Above all, it is important to give the positions of the member companies of all affiliated associations a stronger, concentrated voice,” said Ralf Käser, board member of the Swiss fleet association SFFV. This should also complement and strengthen the members’ national activities.
Authored by: Steven Schoefs
eCall now standard on all newly launched cars in EU
All new cars that are type-approved after April 1st have to be equipped with eCall, an emergency communication device with an integrated SIM card. It allows you to contact the emergency services by pressing the SOS button positioned near the rear-view mirror – either for yourself or when you witness a road accident involving casualties.
The most important feature, however, is something called ‘automatic crash response’. Once the airbags in your car have been activated following an impact, the system establishes a telephone communication with a call centre while sending the car’s exact GPS location. When there is no response, the emergency services are dispatched to the crash location, saving precious time and thereby hundreds of lives per year.
GM and Mercedes: the pioneers
If you ask people who ‘invented’ eCall and when, not many will reply that it was in fact GM, already back in 1996. Their premium sub brand Cadillac was the first to equip its models with a Motorola-co-developed system called OnStar – indeed, the predecessor of the platform-and-app which today comes standard on the majority of Opel and Vauxhall cars.
Another trailblazer in terms of automatic emergency assistance is Mercedes-Benz. Its ’emergency call’ system comes standard in all model series since ‘Mercedes me’ was introduced in September 2014. Just like with OnStar, it has a major benefit, namely that communication takes place not in the language of the country in which the vehicle is situated, but in the language which the driver has set in the infotainment system.
Very helpful, but not perfect
There is no doubt as to the usefulness of eCall. It enables emergency services to respond faster, not least because the car’s exact location is known. There are few buts, though. In remote areas, there could be a gap in the network coverage, meaning no communication is possible. Also, eCall does not know how many people there are in a car. With the occupants unconscious, the alarm centre does not know how many ambulances it needs to dispatch.
Moreover, if an accident occurs in a tunnel, for instance, e-Call cannot transmit the GPS location. Furthermore, it is not unthinkable that your children could press the SOS button when you leave them in the car for a few minutes. Finally, there is the privacy and cyber security issue.
Authored by: Dieter Quartier
Tougher supervision for European car industry
The European Union has passed rules to introduce tougher supervision on the European automotive industry coming into force from 2020. As one of the changes, the EU will have more powers to combat emissions fraud.
Under the new rules, the European Commission will have the right to test cars in order to check whether national supervisory bodies perform their duties adequately. If cars don’t meet certain standards, the EC can impose fines of up to €30,000 per car. Europe will also be able to impose recalls if the manufacturers fail to do so themselves.
National supervisory bodies have long been suspected of protecting their own car manufacturers, for instance during the recent diesel emission scandals. These new rules should make that impossible.
Authored by: Benjamin Uyttebroeck