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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 March, 2005, 13:44 GMT
Trafficmaster profits accelerate
Motorway traffic jam
Smartnav helps drivers avoid jams, tolls and congestion charges
Demand from motorists for ways to beat the traffic has driven surging profits at hi-tech navigation specialist Trafficmaster.

Pre-tax profits for the year to December, rose to 4.7m from 500,000 last time - in part due to 2.3m made from an early redemption of bonds.

A trebling in sales of its Smartnav system was the other main driver of the increase, Trafficmaster said.

Smartnav helps motorists to plan routes with touch screen or voice technology.

A network of more than 7,500 roadside sensors picks up the information which is then fed through Trafficmaster networks and onto Smartnav units.

A total of 27,600 units were sold last year, with a total of 11 vehicle models now having the device fitted as standard.

Trafficmaster bosses say Smartnav now accounts for more than 20% of all new units sold in the UK, despite it facing increased competition from rival hand-held and personal digital assistant (PDA) units.

'Strong growth'

"The in-car navigation market has accelerated its growth with various new products stimulating the development of the market," chairman Colin Welsh said.

"We believe that the outlook looks encouraging as both motorists and motor manufacturers seek to make satellite navigation systems commonplace within the car."

Elsewhere in the business its RAC Trackstar division - which allows stolen vehicles to be traced - got a boost from a 35% increase in sales of Trackstar plus.

Meanwhile in the US, its Teletrac fleet management business saw revenues grow by 27.6%.

"With good momentum in our operating businesses, we are well positioned to continue to deliver strong growth in 2005," chairman Colin Walsh said.

The Bedfordshire-based firm, which employs a total of 450 staff, has recently agreed a deal to share data with Transport for London in an effort to improve traffic flow in the capital.

Trafficmaster has also been working with Norwich Union on the feasibility of "pay as you drive" insurance which could cut premiums for drivers who only drive a short distance each week.

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