Forgive the slight sense of irony in the title, but the point of this post is clear; the automotive fleet industry is going through a rapid evolution, and must establish new business models, driven by connected vehicle technology. “Shared mobility” is the driving principle in the changing landscape and, just as the taxi industry has had to compete with the emergence of ride hailing, traditional vehicle rental is now being challenged by the relatively lower cost, flexibility and convenience of car sharing.

In the face of this challenge, the fleet industry must address the dual fronts of cost control and commoditization. Replacing the physical vehicle keys with digital keys – held on the driver’s smartphone, which the fleet manager can issue via a secure cloud portal – is an attractive proposition, but any such solution, needs to have the flexibility to cater to multiple users across multiple vehicles.

In this new landscape, the value of connected services cannot be underestimated, such as tailoring the in-vehicle experience to the individual needs of the customer, even before they pick up the vehicle. This would require appropriate integration by the OEM of course, but there are also other ways to attract additional customers through connected services. Examples include the adoption of flexible services or optimizing the pick-up and drop-off process through information delivered to customers’ phones.

Digital keyless vehicle access using smartphones is what will enable these new services, but before introducing this it’s important to consider the risk that comes with any new component. It’s well known that keyless entry systems present one of the most popular ways to steal a car. A report in January 2019 by ‘Which? Magazine’ in the UK, stated that four of the most popular models in the UK are susceptible to theft using relatively inexpensive equipment purchased online. A common method to achieve this is known as a Signal Amplification Relay Attack (SARA). The thieves use inexpensive ‘relay’ boxes; one placed near the car and the other near where the key is typically located. This ‘lengthens’ the signal making the key seem close to the car. They then open the car, start it and drive away.

This threat can be mitigated with proper security. Through understanding the attack vectors and implementing a defense-in-depth approach to security, the fleet industry can mitigate these risks and use security as an enabler for new business models.

What if your security vendor, based on years of successful deployments in hostile environments, understood that the principle motive for hackers and thieves is financial gain? And that providing a level of resistance, by way of multi-layer security, meant that they left you and your assets alone and went looking for softer targets?

Find out more about unlocking new business models in the fleet industry in our latest whitepaper.