Connectivity, Advanced Telematics Buoy LATAM Logistics

Digital transformation and connectivity are reshaping the future of logistics and the trucking industry, according to Frost & Sullivan’s recent Latin American Commercial Vehicles Market Forecast to 2023 study. Demand for greater transparency, speed, and truck capacity optimization, as well as higher logistics costs in Latin America (LATAM), ushered in a range of digital freight brokerage solutions in both mature and emerging markets. Non-telematics participants such as private security companies and Tier 1 suppliers—for example, engine and transmission system suppliers Paccar and Cummins—are venturing into the commercial vehicle telematics market and will strengthen their position in the next three years.

Notwithstanding the existing market challenges, Frost & Sullivan expects Latin America to record annual sales of more than 200,000 units by 2023.

"Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Argentina will draw attention to advanced services such as driver behavior management, video safety, and prognostics, mostly for big fleets in emerging regions like Peru and small fleets in the whole LATAM region," says Hernan Cavarra, mobility industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan. "We also expect a shift from basic to mid-tier services."

Low oil, mining ore, and commodities prices are affecting the heavy-duty truck commercial vehicles (HDT CV) market, a trend expected to continue until 2019 when recovery is likely, mainly in Brazil, the most important HDT market in the region.

On the other hand, lack of proper infrastructure and low internet network penetration region-wide are restraints for the development of truck digitization and connectivity. The lack of infrastructure also affects the broad penetration of alternative fuels and powertrains, such as natural gas and hybrid vehicles, which, in the medium term, are more focused on niche market segments.

Although the HDT CV market is experiencing a downturn in most areas, the MCV 6 to 10 MT sub-segment is gaining traction in the region because, in many areas, these trucks are replacing LCV for urban trucking and distribution. A rapidly evolving logistics requirement driven by e-commerce creates opportunities for OEMs to focus on vehicle platforms that encompass new body designs with superior volume benefits and payload as well as cab-over, better turning radius, and technology availability. In addition, OEMs can leverage the expertise of start-ups to cut down on time to market for cutting-edge concepts.

Three key mobile freight brokering startups are paving the way for cost savings and disrupting regional logistics:

1. uShip: The only platform that works for a range of shipments—cars, motorcycles, animals/pets, heavy equipment, household goods, boats and more—operates in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Chile and Peru.

2. TruckPad: Among the first few companies to venture into automated freight matching in LATAM, TruckPad is a mobile-based app that aims to connect drivers to loads, with several value-added services soon to be integrated. It leverages the Brazilian market structure, where almost one-third of the truck driver population is comprised of independent truck drivers (about 1 million drivers).

3. RIO: A full-fledged Volkswagen Truck & Bus brand, and to be sponsored by MAN Trucks & Bus, RIO is an open source cloud-based solution for data flow to integrate the various facets of the logistics value chain. It has been available in all MAN trucks since mid-2017 and as an option in Scania trucks.

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