Zubie CEO Gary Tucker has more than 30 years of automotive industry experience. Prior to joining Zubie, he led the growth and exit strategy for DealerRater, resulting in a sale to Cars.com in 2016. He was an executive at JD Power, and has held executive positions with GE Capital and American Isuzu. Tucker started in his career in automotive retail, spending 10 years leading a dealership. 

Tucker - Photo: Courtesy Zubie


Photo: Courtesy Zubie

In the second installment of a wide-ranging interview about the benefits of Zubie for rental operations, Tucker discusses how Zubie can help rental companies keep tabs on their assets, privacy concerns about having telematics in rental vehicles, and how Zubie stands out from its competitors.

Asset security should be a top concern for rental operations. In that regard, how does it geofence work for a rental operation? 

One of the first things our customers will do is geofence all of their storage locations. So, you can do a radius, a circle or actually a polygon-shaped geofence around your storage locations so that when a vehicle is on one of your storage lots, we can specifically tell you where it is and what lot it's on. But going well beyond your storage locations. We find all of the common drop-off areas for that market are benefited by being geofenced. So, that could be the dealerships that use your fleet for loaner cars, the body shops that use your fleet for rental cars during car repair, the impound yard, the airports nearby, any situation where a car might normally show up. That also includes rental operators that are near boarders, whether it's Canada or Mexico. They can draw a line on the boarder and be alerted if one of their vehicles crosses the boarder. And so, that's all customizable within our platform for a particular customer and all can be alerted in the dashboard through an event telling them that a vehicle has triggered a geofence.

That’ll certainly help you keep tabs on a vehicle when you know it’s with a customer. What about — in the worst-case scenario — if a vehicle is actually stolen? How can telematics and Zubie specifically help?

If a vehicle is suspected or known to be stolen, or maybe gone off the grid, so to speak, we have a feature built into our platform that we refer to as location link. And what location link allows you to do is via a very simple email is to share the map view of a specific vehicle with either your vehicle collection vendor, your repo guy, or even the authorities. So you could, for example, if vehicle 1234 has been reported stolen, I'd go in the system, I'd share an email with our collection vendor for vehicle 1234, she would click on that link, and it would open up the real-time map view for that particular car showing them where it is in real time. So, they can use that location data to pinpoint where the vehicle is and go and collect it.

We've had customers also use that feature to share vehicle location with the appropriate authorities, and let them know that, "This vehicle was stolen, and we know where it is." And so, again, that constant transmittal of the vehicle location, and then putting it together in a way that makes it easy for our customers to use is what makes Zubie unique.

The Zubie device is typically installed with a Y-cable or what we call a stealth installation. So, the device itself is hidden up under the dashboard. The Zubie device has a battery backup so that even if it is unplugged, we can still collect a location data from the device.

Transparency about data collection and privacy is a growing, top-of-mind concern. So, as a best practice, should rental operations update their rental agreements when they install a telematics solution?

I think it most certainly should be on their radar. What we found is most operators, particularly the large brands, already have language, giving them permission to utilize and collect telemetry data from the vehicle. But if they don't have that, then we certainly recommend they should review that with their local legal counsel and get that in place. We don't provide the legal advice, but we would encourage them to work with their counsel to make sure they've got the appropriate disclosures in place.

Could you run through the installation process for Zubie, how complicated is it? 

On the installation side, it takes about 10 minutes to install the Zubie device with a stealth cable in a vehicle, and that installation can be done by a lot worker. It doesn't require a mechanic to install. It's a very, very simple and very fast installation. And then the ability for it to be moved from vehicle to vehicle, the software in the device recognizes that it's been swapped to a new vehicle, reads the VIN for that vehicle, and then creates an account for that new VIN inside the Zubie customer's account. So, the devices are easily transferred from vehicle to vehicle, and the overall installation and removal is about 10 minutes.

So, this won’t affect uptime in anyway then, right? 

Yes, it's also a significant cost-savings. I mean, we know that some of our competitors' devices take upwards of an hour to install. And when you multiply an hour of labor to install it, another hour to take it out times 500 or 1,000 vehicles, that's a tremendous amount of cost.

Speaking of competitors, what makes Zubie stand out in the market and from your competitors? 

I think there are three dimensions to that answer. The first is the hardware. Zubie's device is a 4G/LTE-M device which is the latest generation of connectivity. So, we have a tremendously strong and consistent connection with the vehicle, and a very strong compatibility across makes and models by having a device that's been tested in over 12 million different vehicles.

The second piece is the Zubie cloud or the infrastructure, which is kind of our “secret sauce,” and that's where we're able to capture things like the odometer reading, the fuel level, manage events like geofencing and all of the technology-driven events that happen in the cloud. Zubie has a proprietary cloud infrastructure that was designed and architected by our engineers and is very, very efficient and very effective.

The third piece is the product layer itself, the UI, and where Zubie, I think, really stands out is the simplicity in which we're able to deliver information to our customers in a way that they can use it. It is very easy to activate a vehicle, to see a vehicle on your platform, and to get the information you need from that vehicle within our platform.

So, I'd say it's a combination of leading-edge hardware, the strength of our Zubie infrastructure in the cloud, and the simplicity of our user interface or product interface at the front end.

From a development and engineering standpoint, being simple isn't easy. It takes a tremendous amount of work for our guys to make the platform simple.

To request a demo of Zubie's telematics profile, visit the company's website here.