12 nov 19

David Roman, LoJack Mexico: More than stolen vehicle recovery

Long gone are the days when LoJack only provided stolen vehicle recovery (SVR) services. The company, which is a subsidiary of California-based telematics solutions firm CalAmp, now provides services such as instant crash alerts, speed alerts, trip history, arrival notifications, and more. 

To learn more about what the company is doing just south of the border, I had a brief talk with David Roman during my last visit to Mexico, the Managing Director in the country.

Could you start by telling me how the LoJack brand is represented around the world?

Roman: CalAmp acquired LoJack USA about three years ago and now it has three other divisions, being in the U.K, Italy, and Mexico. The latter, which I am responsible for, was acquired in early 2019.

Besides these subsidiaries, the LoJack name is used in other countries, but through franchising licenses. In addition to countries such as Germany and Spain, our Latin America reach - via licensing - includes Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia.

So, while the subsidiaries use radio frequency and other CalAmp technologies which initially started in the US, the franchisees use other types of technologies.

What are the services that LoJack offers?

Roman: Our main business is our stolen vehicle recovery (SVR) service and our main asset is our radio frequency network. It is the ownership of this network which enables us to recover vehicles.

However, we are evolving to the realm of telematics. Besides radio frequencies, we offer GPS devices and other tools to help fleet managers optimize logistics and overall operations.

We use our technology to connect to vehicle CAN buses and collect data. Through our web platform, we provide a comprehensive solution for our fleet customers, helping them by managing fuel consumption, RPM values, and overseeing the state of their engines.

And who are your customers?

Roman: Among our customers are car rental and leasing companies and other businesses with large fleets. For instance, we have developed a good alliance with the MAN truck and bus company of the Volkswagen group, providing their vehicles with video solutions.

We also have a good relationship with Volkswagen’s financial services and long-term leasing company AFASA. We provide them with telematics that connect to on-board diagnostics (OBD) in cars, similar to what is being offered to MAN.

Finally, I'd like to say that we have just started a new business relationship with local car rental agency Avasa (Alquiladora de Vehiculos Automotores SA), the franchise operator of Hertz in Mexico, as well as Dollar, Thirfty, Firefly and Carshop. The first stage of our partnership involves furnishing 16,000 vehicles. 

LoJack headquarters in Canton (MA), USA (source: Integrated Builders)

Are there any legislative changes needed to help facilitate vehicle security services?

Roman: Governments in Mexico are already in the process of passing a law which requires passenger buses to have driver panic buttons. It has already been ratified in the state of Mexico, which includes Mexico City, as well as the state of Puebla, and we are expecting this law to spread nationwide.

Governments are also working on an initiative to ban or restrict the usage of radio frequency jammers, a technology which sometimes interferes with SVR services. Discussions are taking place between authorities and a local association made up of GPS providers and tracking companies such as Lo Jack.

We want to make it a crime to have a jammer, only allowing it for proper authorities who use it for specific security purposes.

A lot of cars are stolen in Mexico and even more down south in Brazil. Do you find that vehicle theft is less of a problem in other regions of the world such as Europe?
Roman: There is no doubt that theft is a big problem in Latin America, but you will be surprised how common vehicle theft occurs in Europe. Many cars are stolen and transported out of the region in containers, usually ending up in Africa.

Fortunately, our technology detects vehicles inside containers. As such, when retrieving our cars, authorities commonly retrieve other vehicles hidden in these containers that do not have LoJack.

The problem of vehicle theft and security has been around for a long time, and unfortunately for society, the number of incidents is quite high in Mexico. However, it is good for our business and we are determined to continuously providing quality services for our clients.

Authored by: Daniel Bland