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September 20, 2016 1:55 PM, EDT

VW's MAN to Sell Trucks With New Digital Features in 2017

Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg News

BERLIN — Volkswagen division MAN will next year start selling heavy-duty commercial vehicles with new digital services to make its trucks more efficient, as VW looks to challenge rivals Daimler and Volvo AB.

Truck makers are looking for new revenue from connected services that can make vehicles safer and more efficient. For large truck fleets, that can mean big savings.

MAN has developed a cloud-based platform called RIO capable of connecting those in the freight transport business, including haulers, dispatchers and receivers while feeding truck drivers traffic and navigation data, VW said Sept. 20.

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Through RIO, logistics firms will be able to better use vehicle capacity, reduce empty journeys, save fuel and avoid traffic jams, VW said in a statement published on the eve of the Hanover trucks show.

"This is good news for our customers because their business will become more profitable," Volkswagen Truck & Bus head Andreas Renschler said.

Europe's largest automaker has said it plans to invest hundreds of millions of euros to expand digital tools for trucks, as it aims to catch up with Daimler and other rivals on developing smart logistics and connected trucks.

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Existing Daimler products include Fleetboard, launched in 2000. The software gathers data such as average speed and braking behavior, allowing freight operators to analyze driving styles and ultimately save 10% to 15% on fuel, Daimler has said.

RIO can be used by fleet operators, small and medium-sized hauliers and other firms, MAN digital chief Markus Lipinsky said, citing Continental and TomTom NV among initial partners.

"I'm convinced that no technology company can by itself cope with the complexity of logistics business," Lipinsky said. "That's why we're looking for contact with as many partners as possible."