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Brazil still hoping to fight vehicle theft with mandates

18 September 2015 Flavio Gomes Dias

Brazil is a country with a very high incidence of theft for cars and cargo. The Brazilian public entity SINESP (National Information System of Public Security), reported that in 2013, 448,000 vehicles were stolen, which was14% more than in 2012. In addition, according to IHS Economics and Country Risk data, cargo theft reached USD448 million in 2013, a 4.1% increase compared with 2012. Cargo security reached 16% of the shipment's value in 2013.

Thus the Brazilian government started taking action back in 2006 to implement that all vehicles registered in Brazil, whether being produced or imported to Brazil, have an antitheft system installed. CONTRAN, the government entity with jurisdiction for defining and amending the Brazilian Traffic Code and for coordinating the National Traffic System, is responsible for characterizing the necessary equipment and defining the schedule for the automotive industry and all involved OEMs to progressively supply and install the systems.

The resolution 245 of CONTRAN launched in July 2007 and established the specifications and functions to track and immobilize vehicles locally and remotely in the case of theft. Coined SIMRAV (Integrated System for Automatically Monitoring and Registering Vehicles), the legislative program initially determined a term of 24 months to have 100% of vehicles following this resolution and 90 days to finalize the specification of the system.

History of delays

In March 2009, close to its planned implementation, the Public Ministry of São Paulo called the resolution off with the augmentation that it would represent a tie-in sale and breach the right to privacy. It also said that an antitheft system represents an item of public security, and that taking care of public security is not the mission of DENATRAN (National Traffic Department). The public entity DENATRAN is only responsible for applying and controlling the resolutions and rules defined by CONTRAN.

The court ruled that a separation between immobilizing and tracking is necessary and that the latter should be optional and therefore a customer choice. The ruling also included a number of other changes in the latest ordinance. From 2009 on, many resolutions and ordinances arose cancelling or changing the previous ones.

In summary, access to vehicle information will be protected and only available to the service provider when allowed by the customer. For activation of the tracking system it will be necessary to contract a cell phone operator, which is also a customer choice, and can be changed any time. ANATEL (National Agency of Telecommunication) will be responsible for defining the bandwidth of GSM signal and together with DENATRAN, set the hardware requirements. Plans with different coverage ranges will be created by the cell operators and customers will be able to freely choose among them. As it depends on GSM and GPS signals, its proper functionality is linked to the quality and range of these signals. Rural areas with lack of infrastructure will not be guaranteed coverage and the same is true for border areas of Brazil with other countries. The immobilizing function will only be used while the vehicle is stationary, minimizing road accidents. The device will be added to any on-board system and removal of the system will prohibit vehicle operation.

In 2014, in accordance with President Dilma Rousseff's request, CONTRAN postponed the deadline for implementation of antitheft systems in vehicles through yet another resolution (485), establishing new terms for a gradual introduction of the system. The following guidelines were established during this process:

  • By June 30th 2016, 20% of production cars, pickups, SUVs, trucks, buses and micro-buses must feature the system. By February 28th 2017, 50% of production must be equipped. By June 30th 2017, 100% of production has to have the system installed.
  • 100% of tractors and towing trucks must come equipped with the immobilizing feature by December 31st 2016.
  • For motorcycles, tricycles and quadricycles, 5% must be equipped by September 30th 2016, 15% by December 31st 2016, 50% by June 30th 2017, and 100% by August 30th 2017.

Conclusion

Despite all of these concerns, Volvo and BMW already offer Stolen Vehicle Tracking services in Brazil via Volvo OnCall and BMW ConnectedDrive, respectively. Later this year, GM OnStar in its global expansion will be the new player offering this function in the country. It is important to mention that these OEMs only provide coverage where access to the GSM network is available.

IHS Automotive believes resolution 485 may not be the last chapter in the implementation of anti-theft systems for vehicles in Brazil. The last delay in the antitheft system implementation in 2014 was grounded in the weakness of the automotive market and in the higher pricing that this system would add to the vehicle, worsening the market crisis further. New vehicle sales in Brazil decreased an average of 20% during the first months of 2015 and this will remain during 2015 and also in 2016. Now and for the next months the situation is unlikely to change and a new postponement in the next year is a likely scenario.

Flavio Gomes Dias is Senior Analyst Researcher II, Automotive Technology

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