In the peer-to-peer sharing economy with apps like Lyft or Airbnb, it was only a matter of time before the RV industry caught on. However, insurance companies across the U.S. prohibited RV owners from business usage. But rental company Outdoorsy changed that earlier this year when it partnered with National General. Now RVers and rental dealerships have less hassle in lending out their RVs. The company recently took RV rental a step further. Through Outdoorsy’s RV fleet management software Wheelbase, the company is introducing a GPS dongle that reports real-time information to its users to better protect their assets.
“What we’re hearing – and it’s not necessarily enforced yet – is that underwriters are going to start requiring that people track car and RV rentals,” said Spencer Cavins, director of dealer solutions at Wheelbase. “We’re trying to get on the front end of that despite if it comes to fruition.”
The Wheelbase Tracker PRO dongle passes real-time information to users every 30 seconds. In practice, an RV rental owner can track the whereabouts of his vehicle like a submarine blip on a radar. With geo-fencing capabilities, rental companies can fence off certain parts of the country or borders; when renters cross those lines, an alert is sent to the Wheelbase user.
Driver profile and trip info is readily available, as is what booking they’re associated with, and miles the renter traveled which is then tallied and calculated once he returns. Day-to-day rental reporting shows where the vehicle has been, which is important when considering toll roads and not getting billed for it later.
“If you own 50 RVs, you can see where each one of those is on a map in real-time,” said Cavins. “It maintains honesty and transparency.”
Other issues arise with a high-value asset. One of them is theft.
The other can be a nightmare.
“We’ve had people bring a rental down to the Mexican border and load it up with drugs and get pulled over,” said Cavins. Had a geo-fence alert been in place, it’s possible to see what exactly renters may be up to. “It’s like, ‘Oh, this person isn’t heading to Colorado at all, they’re headed to the border.’”
The Wheelbase dongle also will detect excessive braking or speeding which shows as a red blemish on the map. Hovering a cursor above it will go pull up a box notifying renters if the driver has gone too fast or is an endangerment to themselves or others. “A lot of these are first-time renters that have never done this before, and this is a way to make sure they’re driving confident.”
Although the dongle debuted with users only three weeks ago, the reactions, Cavins said, have been extremely positive. So far 154 dongles are pending shipment.
Wheelbase Tracker PRO currently functions continent wide, but will be available soon for vehicles originating in Australia, U.K., and Canada, as Outdoorsy’s insurance rolls out in those areas in the next couple weeks – the underwriting companies, of which, have not been disclosed. As in the U.S., users across those continents will benefit from the numerous upgrades on the horizon.
“We’re getting a lot of data right now and trying to figure out what people want.”
That might mean a future update enabling rental businesses to slow down or turn off vehicles if they think something suspicious is happening. Or remotely unlocking vehicles to bypass road assistance.
Such prospects will be revisited this winter. In the meantime, there’s more data to collect.
The dongle is priced at $120 and comes with a one-year warranty. The subscription service is $13.99 per month.
For more information, visit http://www.wheelbasepro.com/gps.