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Bridgestone Americas today announced that it has acquired Azuga, a connected vehicle platform for fleet operators, for $391 million in cash and stock. As a part of the deal, Bridgestone says it’ll take ownership of all of Azuga’s assets and integrate the team, including CEO Ananth Rani, into the parent company’s mobility solutions division.

The move comes as Bridgestone pivots to technology and logistics services, which the company aims to grow to 25% of its global revenues by 2025. While mobility and transportation firms — which are involved with the movement, storage, and flow of goods — have been impacted by the pandemic, Bridgestone is betting on a rosy future in the fleet management and telematics space, which is forecasted to grow to more than $10 billion in the U.S. over the next 3 to 5 years.

San Jose, California-based Azuga, which Rani founded in 2013, leverages GPS, vehicle diagnostics, and driver rewards to help survey and manage vehicle fleets. Its platform records miles, stops, and vehicle and driver alerts, using analytics to track metrics like driving behavior, fuel consumption, accident risk, and more. Azuga says that insurance companies use its data to measure and price risk into their commercial vehicle portfolios. The company also claims to be working with government agencies to improve how transportation taxes, emissions data, and tolls are collected, as well as with states and municipalities to uncover traffic patterns and road surface conditions in support of infrastructure planning and upkeep.

“In addition to supporting tens of thousands of commercial and consumer vehicles, the Azuga … data platform is an ever-growing database with billions of data points,” the company explains on its website. “Through our distributed cloud computing environment, we are bringing advanced statistical modeling and predictive analytics to enterprise, industrial, insurance, and government customers that aids product design, infrastructure management, risk assessment, and operations management.”

Growing fleet industry

The increasing adoption of technology in telematics to improve efficiency is driving the fleet management industry’s growth, according to Global Market Insights. One analysis found that even during the the height of the pandemic, the demand for fleet management and telematics software has continued to grow at a rate of 10.6% and 9.9%, respectively.

As Sudip Saha noted in Automotive World, the current health crisis has proven to be an opportunity to showcase the benefits of effective fleet management systems — especially in the context of the ecommerce boom. Businesses that delivered better when contactless and remote tracking of consignments was the need of the hour have largely fared better than their competitors.

“Tracking vehicles and driver behaviour allows businesses in the transport and logistics sectors to reduce waste and effectively mitigate risks through actionable intelligence,” Saha, managing director for consulting firm Future Market Insights, wrote. “The market growth for fleet management systems is underpinned by the ability of technological innovations to optimise operational and maintenance costs for consumers.”

Bridgestone, cognizant of this, is investing in technologies that both complement and stand to gain from robust fleet tracking solutions. In June, the company took an equity stake in Kodiak, an autonomous trucking startup based in Mountain View, California. And in 2019, Bridgestone paid roughly $1.1 billion for the telematics unit of Dutch navigation company TomTom.

The tiremaker previously said that it plans to invest $6.5 billion from early 2021 to 2023, with half being used for its growth strategy and restructuring and the other half for partnerships, venture investing, and mergers and acquisitions.

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