General Motors will offer small and midsized truck-fleet buyers a packaged wireless data and fleet-tracking system based on software from Gearworks and data phones from Nextel Communications.
The one year, no-cash wireless fleet-tracking and data option targets service industries running small fleets of between 15 and 50 vehicles.
Tim Cavanaugh, marketing product manager for fleet and commercial operations at GM, said the Etrace xt wireless fleet option will be available on GMC and Chevrolet pickup trucks and vans.
GM estimated the market for the wireless fleet-tracking package at about four million vehicles, with plumbing, cable TV, HVAC contractors and courier companies seen as likely purchasers.
In January, US drain cleaning service Roto-Rooter rolled out a wireless data and fleet-tracking system based on Gearworks software and Nextel phones.
Cavanaugh said he expected a "slow start" for the wireless package but anticipated that the programme will grow consistently while providing GM with a competitive edge over its rivals.
Scott Hull, vice-president of marketing at 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.
Hull added that Gearworks would host GM truck-fleet customer applications on its servers, with access available over the web.
The Nextel phone includes a built-in GPS receiver, and allows dispatchers to track the location of individual vehicles in the fleet.
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.