DETROIT, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Software startup STRATIM is tracking more than 1 million vehicles in car- or ride-sharing services for around 50 customers in North America, including major automakers, to help them boost usage and keep their vehicle fleets in working order, the company said on Tuesday.
STRATIM gave its first public update on Tuesday on its software platform for such services, which help manage vehicle fleets, keep cars in good working order, fueled up and generating sufficient revenue.
San Francisco-based STRATIM’s platform is operating in 20 U.S. cities and its clients include General Motors Co’s Maven car sharing and rental unit, Ford Motor Co’s Chariot shuttle service, Toyota Motor Corp and BMW AG .
Major automakers are racing to roll out alternatives to private car ownership including ride sharing amid the rise of Uber and Lyft Inc, as well as to develop commercially viable self-driving cars.
The rush is based on the notion that instead of buying cars - the auto industry’s business model for a century - consumers in the future will generate revenue through car usage.
One challenge for automakers is how to monitor or manage fleets of vehicles when their core traditional business is building cars. STRATIM says it may be part of the answer.
Keeping shared cars in service is key to boosting profit margins as fleet management services can, for instance, provide alerts on when to fuel a car, fix a cracked windshield or replace a flat tire, STRATIM Chief Executive Sean Behr told Reuters.
“It doesn’t matter how great your vehicle or self-driving car is if you can’t reliably keep it on the street to pick up customers, the best technology in the world is not going to save you,” he said.
Companies such as Waymo, Alphabet Inc’s self-driving car unit, face the same fleet-management challenge.
Earlier this month AutoNation Inc announced a multi-year partnership where the largest U.S. auto retail chain will maintain and repair Waymo’s self-driving fleet.
In June, Waymo also signed a multi-year agreement with Avis Budget Group Inc for the car rental firm to service its growing autonomous vehicle fleet.
DriveNow, the car-sharing business operated by BMW and car rental agency Sixt SE, has been expanding into cities across Europe.
STRATIM’s Behr said the ride-sharing industry is still in its infancy, but is growing rapidly. This quarter his company expects to complete 150,000 car services versus 16,000 in the same quarter in 2016.
“The people who can best maintain those Waymos, Ubers or Mavens ... are ultimately the companies that will have the right kind of margins and will be around for the long haul,” he said. (Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by Frances Kerry)