How will the telematics market in Latin America change in 2021?
The Latin American market is fast-moving and has very short decision cycles. It’s pretty far away from our home market in Northern Europe but got closer to us once we started off our branch in Barcelona, Spain. It got even closer once we shifted our strategy from working mainly with end customers to partners in Spain and started approaching potential partners in other Spanish-speaking countries as well. Being in the telematics business for a while now, we see that it’s worth compiling some trends that we expect to be most important during 2021.
Oversaturation in the market
Globally the consolidation of the telematics market is happening for quite some time, however, there haven’t been that many large acquisitions in the Latin American market so far due to the fact that the markets are fragmented and there are a lot of small players operating on either simple custom-built platforms or some well-known global player platforms.
The oversaturation, in this case, comes from the fact that there are lots of players using either identical or very similar product portfolios and can only differ in terms of price. As soon as the competition is based only on price, no one in the market has any advantages and are basically just eating each other up.
We see that this is not something that could be changed in a year or two and it provides decent opportunities for the advanced telematics platforms and players that are not yet present in this market. At times approaching the potential partners in Latin America, we’ve seen a decent interest in the Mapon platform as the partners see an opportunity to have an advanced telematics platform that is not already in the portfolio of lots of other players in the market.
Despite the market being fragmented and oversaturated, the players still manage to form alliances and join forces in specific sectors when looking to combine buying power. We see that as a very smart move and this trend is more important than ever with hardware manufacturers trying to raise prices due to component shortages and Covid-19 related logistics issues.
We see decent momentum for fuel tracking solutions in Latin American markets. There are several factors involved, the most important being the security situation. There’s lots of fuel theft happening as the rewards for the thieves are rather high. Given the low median income levels compared with Northern Europe, fuel theft is an attractive potential additional income stream either for drivers or thieves. Apart from that, we also see a decent interest from fuel sensor manufacturers to move into Latin American markets, so we take for granted that quality hardware solutions will be available.
Mapon has extensive experience in fuel control solutions in Northern and Eastern Europe and we’re ready to bring this knowledge across the ocean.
Our experience shows that installing fuel sensors can easily reduce the amount of fuel consumption by 15-20% due to eliminating fuel theft. In extreme cases, the savings can go up to even 50%.
One of the main issues we see in Latin American markets is the lack of knowledge and equipment for proper fuel sensor calibration after the installation in order to guarantee a high quality of data. Hopefully, in 2021 we can introduce our best practices for sensor installation and calibration.
Connectivity – 2G / 4G / Sigfox
Depending on the use case, potential installation region and the duration of the expected unit lifetime, 2021 could be the year when telematics providers should start thinking about migrating to 4G units.
If we look at specific countries,
Mexico has already switched off the 2G network, while other countries are holding back their plans on suspending the 2G network due to the large number of subscribers on it.
Keeping in mind the fact that telematics devices are installed for several years of operation, the next potential migrations to more advanced networks in 2025 doesn’t seem to be that far away.
Returning to the security topic, it’s no secret that 2G / 3G networks can be rather easily jammed, while radio networks like Sigfox are nearly impossible to jam. Looking at the Sigfox coverage map of Mexico and other Latin American countries, we also see momentum for using Sigfox as the connectivity of choice for specific use cases.
2020 sure was a turbulent year for the whole global economy and uncertain times may still lay ahead in 2021. Of course, it makes predicting the future even more difficult. However, we’ve seen that the telematics sector has stayed rather stable. That’s why we’re sure that the new year will bring us new opportunities, partnerships and technology. It’ll be interesting to look back and see whether our predictions became true and how 2021 will have changed the telematics market in Latin America.