Eroad drives into the US with its electronic road user charging system

New Zealanders who get excited by or take Kiwi pride in the global successes of enterprises as diverse as A2 Milk, Xero and Fisher & Healthcare should be keeping an eye on another listed company, Eroad.

Eroad modernises road charging and tax compliance and health and safety compliance for road transport by replacing paper-based systems with easy-to-use electronic systems that also improve fleet management.

Chairman Michael Bushby, who has steered the company over the past six years while its revenue grew 1675%, this week stepped down and Graham Stuart took over.

Bushby says he’s proud of what has been achieved in the transformation of the Eroad business during his time as chair. He reckons the company is “in great shape with ample opportunities ahead”.

Over the period Bushby was chairman, Eroad’s annual revenue grew from $2.9m in 2012 to $51.5m in 2018.

After listing on the NZX in 2014, Eroad has begun generating self-sustaining cash flows and moved into profit in 2018.

The company is headquartered in Auckland and its US business is based in Portland, Oregon, serving customers with vehicles operating in every US mainland state.

Eroad in 2009 introduced the world’s first nationwide electronic road user charging (eRUC) system in NZ. More than 50% of heavy transport RUC is now collected electronically, representing a rapid transition to e-commerce on a voluntary, industry-led basis, due to the cost-savings and benefits to customers.

Eroad is also a leading provider of health and safety compliance services, including vehicle management and driver behaviour and performance measures.

Eroad’s new chair has extensive governance and executive experience inside export-led NZ businesses with global operations. This includes roles as CFO at Fonterra and CEO of Sealord Group.

Stuart has particular experience in developing new lines of business. He has a first-class honours degree in commerce from the University of Otago and a Master of Science from MIT.

Looking forward, Eroad continues to expand, increasing its presence in the Australian market with new product lines as well as in its North American activities. The business is also developing other revenue streams, such as data and analytics.

The company in May reported sales in North America in the third quarter exceeded sales in Australia and New Zealand for the first time.

It has engaged First NZ Capital to undertake a strategic review of its North American business, with a focus on evaluating options to capture the compelling growth opportunities in North America.

During the past year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), through the Department of Transportation’s National Training Center (NTC), selected Eroad’s as one of four electronic logging devices for use in training commercial motor vehicle inspectors and investigators. Eroad has also been selected to participate in the first multi-state truck pilot on the I-95 to explore the feasibility of a Mileage-Based User Fee (MBUF) along the US eastern seaboard.

The US Federal government, in its annual Economic Report of the President, proposed a move from fuel tax to road user fees.

A big prospect may open up if California, which has conducted a pilot exercise in road user charges (said to be the world’s largest), follows that up by moving to a full-scale eRuc system, on the lines of the systems already operating in Oregon (and NZ).

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