Continental acquired Zonar, a smart fleet management company, with Daimler Trucks as a minority investor.

The trend of automakers searching out suppliers to develop smart vehicle technologies continues as Daimler is a minority investor in Continental AG new acquisition of smart fleet management technology provider Zonar.

“With this move, we are further expanding our portfolio and expertise in the arena of mobility services, and fostering our regional balance by investing into a fleet management provider in the U.S. that gives us access to a broad customer base and existing sales channels,” said Helmut Matschi, president of the Interior Division and Member of the Executive Board of Continental.

One of the minority investors in Zonar is Daimler Trucks of North America and the new venture has the potential to chart the course of the future of smart fleet management globally, Continental said in a statement announcing the deal, which is subject to approval by both the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Justice.

Zonar is based in Seattle and employs a staff of more than 300, which concentrates on offering services to both public and private commercial vehicle fleets in North America. With the investment in Zonar by Continental, the two enterprises will combine their complementary strengths to become a major supplier in the sector and further expand both companies’ portfolios to offer additional smart fleet solutions to the market.

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“It is exciting to move into a new chapter in Zonar history with the backing of a respected global brand that recognizes our need to serve our markets as a nimble, innovative, customer-focused company as we have for the past 15 years,” said Ian McKerlich, president of Zonar.

“Customers will receive the same productive partnership and innovation they have come to expect with Zonar, as well as expanded technological resources and capabilities from Continental.

Established in 2001, Zonar pioneered smart fleet telematics with patented and award-winning operations technology across all commercial transportation markets: commercial trucking, vocational and passenger fleets.

Notable patents include the only Electronic Verified Inspection Reporting system available today, which ensures pre- and post-trip inspection compliance. The company’s tablet technology is AOBRD self-certified and ELD-ready. Zonar is also the exclusive partner for Daimler Trucks North America’s Virtual Technician solution installed on more than 200,000 Daimler trucks.

“Through the integration of new smart technology solutions, we can enhance our existing fleet management services. In addition, with regard to remote diagnostics for commercial vehicles, we can broaden our existing Continental diagnostics capabilities through new backend services,” added Dr. Michael Ruf, Head of the Commercial Vehicle & Aftermarket Business Unit at Continental, where the acquisition will be integrated.

“Continental’s investment in Zonar presents a great opportunity to bring the best in both hardware and software solutions to the industry.  Daimler Trucks North America will continue its partnership with Zonar building upon the success we have enjoyed over the last five years and Zonar will continue to be an integral part of our connectivity solutions,” said Martin Daum, president and CEO, Daimler Trucks North America.

When the process is complete, Continental will further expand its already existing product, solution and service portfolio in the area of mobility services for fleet management of commercial vehicles and aftermarket.

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Daimler Trucks North America has also signed a separate agreement calling for collaborations with AT&T and Microsoft Corp.  The agreements are aimed at enhancing Daimler Trucks new “Detroit Connect” suite of connected vehicle services.

AT&T will provide cellular service for the new Detroit Connect Truck Data Center, an intelligent piece of hardware that connects the truck to the Internet of Things. Exclusive to the new Freightliner Cascadia, the box out of Daimler Trucks global modular system provides communications capabilities for the Detroit Connect telematics system, which allows over-the-air updates of engines and electronics. It also allows for the use of telematics applications from third parties.

DTNA will also collaborate with Microsoft to establish a new cloud-based back office environment for all Detroit Connect services, including new features, such as Detroit Connect Remote Updates. The Microsoft Azure cloud platform helps process immense amounts of vehicle performance data in a secure way.

Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, member of the Daimler AG board responsible for Trucks and Buses: “With about 400 000 connected vehicles worldwide, Daimler Trucks is by far the industry leader in connectivity. Our collaboration with technology leaders such as AT&T and Microsoft further enhance our ability to provide connectivity solutions to our customers in North America.”

Martin Daum, Daimler Trucks North America chief executive officer said the Detroit Connect platform is an example of how connectivity can help improve efficiency, safety and performance in connected vehicles. “Already today, more than 215 000 of our trucks in North America are online. With our new Cascadia this number will increase dramatically.”  Daum noted

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Daimler Trucks North America has more than 40 percent of the long-haul trucking market in the NAFTA region.

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