Driver Web pages have been in existence for the past several years. However, new technology will make driver Web pages dramatically more sophisticated in coming years. They hold the promise of evolving into a powerful new fleet management tool.
The latest companies to offer personalized driver Web pages are Ford Motor Co. and General Motors. Ford offers MyFord.com, found on fordvehicles.com, which provides online personalized service information to owners of Ford brand vehicles. The new service falls under ConsumerConnect, Ford's e-business unit.
"MyFord.com will offer Ford customers online service information personalized just for them, based on the very car or truck they drive," said Karen Francis, vice president, Ford Motor Co., and president and CEO of ConsumerConnect, at the Automotive News World Congress, which was held last January in Detroit.
"MyFord.com allows the manufacturer, the dealer, and the customer to stay in continuous touch with information on such basics as oil changes, tire care, safety advice, insurance, loans or leases, and access to financial accounts." Also, by using a personalized driver Web page, when the Ford vehicle is resold, the new owner will have a complete record of the service done at the dealership.
Likewise, General Motors has launched a new retail service called Owner Center at MyGMLink.com, which provides vehicle owners with e-mail service reminders, recall information, service history tracking, online owner's manuals, maintenance tips, and promotions.
"This is a retail initiative that has a perfect application for a fleet customer," said Li-Yuen Yee, interactive strategy manager for eFleet at GM Fleet and Commercial Operations. Currently, the service is available for owners of all Pontiac models, and certain Chevrolet models. It will become available to all GM vehicle owners, including those who drive Saab and Hummer models, in the U.S. during the first half of 2002. It will also be introduced in Asia, Europe, and Latin America later in the year.
The GM Owner Center does not provide this service to Saturn, which uses a different system. However, plans are to integrate the Saturn system in the Owner Center at a later date.
"We do not have an application for fleet customers on our www.gmfleet.com Web site as of yet," Yee said. "But the Owner Center on MyGMLink.com could help fleet drivers in the future. This tool can be of great value to a fleet manager, especially those who manage fleets of fewer than 50 vehicles and who do not have the luxury of working with a fleet management company. Plus, these managers often have other responsibilities in addition to fleet and they may not have the time to devote to managing their company vehicles.
From a GM Fleet and Commercial Operations perspective, we would like to aggregate the data so that fleet managers would have the capability to generate reports specific to their vehicles." Although the Owner Center as it's designed today will most likely be used by fleets with fewer than 50 vehicles, Yee said it can be scalable and not restricted by fleet size. According to Yee, GM anticipates drivers inputting the information on their own vehicles in their personal Web pages. The system software would then aggregate this data and funnel it up to the fleet manager, said Yee. Another potentially useful feature of a driver Web page is for the delivering dealer to send an e-mail notification to a fleet manager letting him or her know that a replacement vehicle has arrived and that it is available for pick up.
In the coming years, the driver interface with the fleet function promises to evolve in dramatic ways, which will allow for a level of individualized fleet management that was heretofore not thought possible. Driver-specific Web pages will automate many fleet management functions into point-and-click operations and transfer the responsibility of managing these tasks to the drivers. They will help increase fleet manager productivity by minimizing the many routine calls from drivers about their company vehicles, which can be answered by information maintained on their personal Web pages. Let me know what you think.