July 31, 2019 / 12:16 PM / in 19 days

Avis enlists Israeli startup to turn rental car data into cash

(Reuters) - Avis Budget Group Inc has enlisted an Israeli startup to help turn data from its car rental fleet into cash, as more auto industry players look to tap a potential $750 billion market for vehicle information.

The U.S. car rental company, which owns the Avis, Budget and Zipcar brands, is linking its global fleet of more than 100,000 internet-connected vehicles to the cloud-based marketplace run by Tel Aviv-based Otonomo, the companies said on Wednesday.

Under the deal, Avis can sell data collected from its cars to the more than 100 companies connected to Otonomo’s platform. Avis will provide data including information on location, tyre pressure and wiper blades, Otonomo said.

They did not disclose the financial terms of the deal.

“Optimised data at this level has real potential to change what the future of mobility looks like, and it will open the door for sharing the data with new partners,” Arthur Orduna, Avis’ chief innovation officer, said in an email to Reuters.

Consulting firm McKinsey & Co projects the market for vehicle data could swell to $750 billion globally by 2030. Insurers want to know how fast people drive and how hard they hit the brakes. Retailers want to see what routes people take so they can decide where to set up new stores or place billboards.

Otonomo said J.D. Power, the car dependability ranking firm, has already agreed to buy Avis data to supplement its customer surveys. Because Avis’ fleet spans multiple brands and is regularly updated with the latest models, it helps provide a broad view into vehicle reliability, Otonomo said.

Traditional auto industry companies are scrambling to reinvent themselves as startups such as Uber Technologies Inc and Lyft Inc have ushered in a new model of data-driven, on-demand mobility. Tech companies Alphabet Inc and Apple Inc are also disrupting the industry and have designs toward self-driving cars.

The effectiveness of a data marketplace depends on scale and Otonomo is not the only startup looking to sign up auto firms. Its rivals include Britain-based Wejo, backed by General Motors Co, and Silicon Valley-based Smartcar.

Otonomo claims to be the leader with 18 million vehicles connected to its platform, which it said is 50% more than its closest competitor. The number will grow to more than 20 million by year-end, it said.

(This story corrects to remove erroneous reference to Otonomo being backed by automaker in final paragraph)

Reporting by Kevin Buckland in Tokyo; Editing by David Dolan and Christopher Cushing

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