How­green­driv­ing­can­cut­costs

The Jewish Chronicle - - Business - BY CANDICE KRIEGER

IS­RAELI TECH­NOL­OGY en­tre­pre­neur Hod Fleish­man is ac­cel­er­at­ing along a prof­itable path to im­proved fuel econ­omy.

Mr Fleish­man (pic­tured right) is the co-founder of driver-safety tech­nolo­gies busi­ness GreenRoad Tech­nol­ogy, a Cal­i­for­nia-based firm with offices in Is­rael and Lon­don. It pro­vides in-ve­hi­cle sen­sors and de­vices aimed at re­duc­ing crashes and im­prov­ing fuel econ­omy.

The com­pany has se­cured more than $17 mil­lion of fund­ing from Sir Richard Bran­son’s Vir­gin Green Fund, which fo­cuses on green tech­nolo­gies, to­gether with Bench­mark Cap­i­tal, Balder­ton Cap­i­tal and — more re­cently — Amadeus Cap­i­tal Part­ners.

Once in­stalled, the de­vice mea­sures the driver’s be­hav­iour and com­mu­ni­cates with him or her via three small lights. The green light means that ma­noeu­vers are safe, and red mean un­safe — with the driv­ing in­for­ma­tion col­lected on­line for an-al­y­sis. The tech­nol­ogy aims to help re­duce in­sur­ance and fuel rates for firms which em­ploy many driv­ers.

Founded in 2002, GreenRoad — ini­tially called DriveDi­ag­nos­tics — was built from scratch by Mr Fleish­man, a for­mer sol­dier in the Is­raeli army, and his friend Ofer Raz, the com­pany’s chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer. They had an ini­tial start-up cost of £500,000.

“Our idea was to pre­dict who was a high-risk driver. Ini­tially we did not think we could change peo­ple’s driv- ing habits. We just thought we could col­lect data about it.”

GreenRoad was orig­i­nally es­tab­lished to com­bat the prob­lem of reck­less teen driv­ers. But now cor­po­rate clients with large fleets con­sti­tute 70 per cent of the busi­ness as firms try to lower their fuel costs. Th­ese in­clude the Min­istry of De­fence, which spends £120 mil­lion a year on crash-re­lated costs; T Mo­bile; and the Metro­line bus com­pany, which has in­stalled the GreenRoad de­vice in all of its Lon­don buses.

“The re­al­ity is that there is a very strong cor­re­la­tion be­tween how you drive and how much fuel you burn,” Mr Fleish­man, 40, tells JC Busi­ness. “This was al­ways known, but as the price of fuel goes up, it’s even more dom­i­nant.

“It also about be­ing seen to be green. To­day, the big­gest ex­pen­di­ture for any fleet is the cost of fuel, and there are lim­ited amount of things you can do to re­duce your fuel con­sump­tion. If you use ve­hi­cles in your busi­ness, it is go­ing to cost you.

“Other than en­sur­ing the ve­hi­cles are main­tained prop­erly, the next best you can do is mod­ify your driv­ing. The re­al­ity is, when com­pa­nies in­vest in any prod­uct, they want to see a re­turn. In many cases, the quick­est re­turn is from fuel con­sump­tion.”

He es­ti­mates that driv­ers can re­duce their fuel costs by be­tween three and seven per cent by im­prov­ing the way they drive. Af­ter one year of us­ing GreenRoad’s de­vice, he says, a T Mo­bile fleet of around 250 ve­hi­cles saved £400,000 in crash re­duc­tions and £50,000 in im­proved fuel con­sump­tion.

GreenRoad also work with US-based school-bus op­er­a­tor Laid­law. “The cost of a crash to them is in­fi­nite. They need to in­vest a lot of money to pre­vent a crash. Fuel is a very large ex­pense, but car crashes are an un­known ex­pense. They can cost any­thing from al­most zero to mil­lions, de­pend­ing on the sever­ity.”

More re­cently, in the UK, Derby Coun­cil and St Ed­munds­bury Bor­ough Coun­cil have signed agree­ments to in­stall the sys­tem in coun­cil and grey fleet ve­hi­cles. It costs around £20 a month per ve­hi­cle to in­stall.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Fleish­man, a ma­jor­ity of clients use the sys­tem for safety rea­sons, but like the bonus of the fuel sav­ing. “They see it as the cherry on top. It’s just su­per. It works out as a very good in­cen­tive for com­pa­nies.”

Par­al­lel to the de­vel­op­ing cor­po­rate side of the busi­ness, the com­pany has stayed true to its foun­da­tion to help young driv­ers. It is work­ing with Lon­don Coun­cils to l aunch a pro­gramme for fam­i­lies of teenaged driv­ers, to help them drive re­spon­si­bly. The scheme is be­ing rolled out by Stafford­shire Coun­cil, which is in­stalling de­vices in the cars of lo­cal teens. Mr Fleish­man says he is in dis­cus­sion with six other coun­cils.

“Teen driv­ers have a very high crash rate. One in five teens is in­volved in a car crash in their first year of driv­ing. Fam­i­lies are not pre­pared for when their child starts driv­ing.”

The main prob­lem, he says, is the at­ti­tude of young driv­ers. “They think they are in­vin­ci­ble, or rac­ingdrivers, and drive reck­lessly, which burns a lot of fuel.”

The com­pany’s re­search also re­vealed an in­crease in reck­less driv­ing and fuel con­sump­tion dur­ing the GCSE-re­sults pe­riod.

Has he met Sir Richard Bran­son? “Not yet, but I think with the rate we are mov­ing in the UK, once the roll-out be­come more ag­gres­sive, it would def­i­nitely be good to get him in­volved more.”

Six years on, and the com­pany has grown from a team of two to 55. The next big thing for GreenRoad, says Mr Fleish­man, is to get in­sur­ance com­pa­nies in­volved. He is in ne­go­ti­a­tions with one ma­jor in­sur­ance com­pany, which will of­fer dis­counts to peo­ple who use their road-safety sys­tem.

Mr Fleish­man lives in Jerusalem with his wife and two daugh­ters.

GreenRoad’s Hod Fleish­man ( says driv­ers can re­duce their fuel costs by up to seven per cent by im­prov­ing the way the drive

above)

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