Michelin expands telematics operations in Europe

Tire manufacturer Michelin has announced that it is to acquire telematics provider Masternaut, completing the company’s trio of recent buyouts in the North and South American markets and now Europe.

The transaction will enable Masternaut to speed up its product development and growth across the continent. The company will continue to operate under the same brand but will be a fully owned subsidiary of Michelin.

Masternaut provides services to fleets across Europe, where it is a leader in the UK and France and a major player in the connected vehicles market. It was founded in 1996 and offers solutions for fleet management and optimization, driver behavior improvement and data security.

Michelin’s portfolio in the fleet telematics industry already includes Nextraq, a company based in North America, and Sascar, a South American business.

In 2017, Michelin agreed to acquire NexTraq, a U.S. provider of commercial fleet telematics, in an all-cash transaction. NexTraq was a subsidiary of FLEETCOR Technologies, which provides fuel cards and workforce payment products.

In addition, NexTraq provides solutions for fuel management, driver safety and enhancing productivity. Since its inception in 2000, it has become a leading provider of GPS fleet management solutions for small groups of up to 50 commercial vehicles.

At the time of acquisition, NexTraq had 117 employees, approximately 7,000 fleet customers and 116,000 subscribers. The unit has since operated independently within Michelin North America.

"NexTraq has technology that, among other capabilities, monitors reckless driving and stops texting while driving. This capability is an excellent cultural fit with Michelin's purpose and long-standing commitment to road safety," Ralph Dimenna, chief operating officer for Michelin Americas Truck Tires said at the time.

"Telematics and fleet management services are a rapidly growing category worldwide and an important area of Michelin Group's overall business plans," he added.

In 2014, Michelin agreed to buy Brazilian digital truck-fleet management company Sascar Participações to take advantage of robust growth in the South American nation’s trucking market.

Michelin’s deal with Sascar indicated their prediction that the operations of car insurers, logistics firms and claims management providers would further boost demand for data security and big-data-based monitoring services.

Fleet management and monitoring is a fast-growing market in Brazil, where only a small percent of vehicles are tracked. The industry is expected to grow at an annual 15% rate over the next 4 years.

On reflection, Michelin is expanding across established as well as emerging markets, where demand for vehicles and auto-related services are predicted to rise the most.

Florent Menegaux, managing partner of Michelin, said, “Michelin is consolidating its expertise in telematics, enabling the company to optimize customer mobility and respond to the needs of a changing market. Masternaut represents a further step in the expansion of Michelin’s services and solutions business, especially in Europe and for light vehicle fleets.”

With Michelin’s professional expertise, Masternaut says it aims to expand the development of its product and service offering – particularly in data science areas such as predictive maintenance and operational re-engineering.

Dhruv Parekh, CEO of Masternaut, commented, “Over the last 4 years I have been incredibly proud of what we have achieved. Masternaut Connect today is one of the fastest-growing telematics platforms in Europe, with an industry-leading Net Promoter score. Our investment in an enterprise-grade Internet of Things platform has enabled us to launch new products in a scalable way.

“Together with Michelin, we are well-positioned to expand in the connected vehicle industry across Europe. Operating within the Michelin Group will accelerate our ability to achieve the vision of a connected world that is safer, cleaner and more productive.”

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