Ford partners with UK sofware firm

US motor manufacturer, Ford, has announced it is to use UK-developed vehicle fleet management software

US motor manufacturer, Ford, has announced it is to use UK-developed vehicle fleet management software as part of the on-board computer systems for its 2009 E-series vans and F-series pickups.

Ford claims to be first to market with the option of factory-fitted computer systems using hardware and software pre-integrated with vehicles with the launch of its F-150 pickup truck this month.

This will provide more reliable and robust performance than similar systems fitted by third-party suppliers and help make the use of the technology more mainstream, the motor company said.

The fleet management and vehicle tracking applications from Nottingham-based software firm, Microlise, provide web-based access to location and performance analysis.

The software uses data transmitted from the vehicle diagnostics system via mobile phone networks to enable more efficient scheduling, route planning and job allocation.

The application also highlights where driver performance and techniques can be improved to help cut fuel consumption.

Ford has worked with Microlise to identify 30 key vehicle and driver performance indicators to monitor such as harsh braking and excessive idling, said Paul Russell, Ford Work Solutions marketing manager.

The UK firm was chosen after an extensive search, said Russell, because of its telematics experience, understanding of the US market, and ability to build an innovative web interface within a tight timeframe.

Nadeem Raza, managing director at Microlise, said, "This deal has helped us refine and develop our offering and accelerate our product roadmap."

The fleet management software will be available initially only in new vehicles in the US as part of the Ford Work Solutions on board computer systems package.

Russell says Ford is looking at ways to make the technology available to existing truck fleets and will consider expanding to other geographies based on the initiative's success in the US.

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