No more Mark IV, Kapsch TrafficCom IVHS now the supplier to E-ZPass group
By Peter Samuel
As of this morning Feb 1, 2011 Mark IV IVHS - the sole source supplier of E-ZPass group transponders and readers since the inception of electronic toll collection in the mid-1990s -is no more. Gone is the heavy thick ultra-bold compressed MARKIV and the 'Reinventing the road' slogan underneath. The millions of toll transponders going out from the factory in Mississauga Ontario in the western suburbs of the Toronto metro area to motorists in America's heartland - from Chicago all the way east to to New York, and from West Virginia right up through the mid-Atlantic states north to Maine - will now be carrying a Kapsch brand...
Alarming logo news
...we were just going to write that the new electronic toll product out of Mississauga will carry the established Kapsch logo of understated slim lower case italicized lettering and the two yellow and one black radio-signal arrows upper right.
But we just got the unsettling news that a new branding/logo is in the works for the North American division - Kapsch IVHS.
Imagine FedEx buying UPS and trying to compromise colors and logos!
We're now on edge, worrying about the potential aesthetic catastrophe emerging out of this formidable Vienna-Mississauga Axis as some kind of messy political compromise in which the styles and colors of both ends of the Axis are represented - the dour Ontarian and the lighter mod Euro style. Horrific images are evoked of the Ontarians ultra-bold heavy typeface grotesquely mixed in with light-touch sloping Euro-styles of the parent company. Light bluey grey colors of the overcast skies of Ontario mixed up with the sharp black and yellow of the Euro style shop - producing a kind of faded orange hue?
On a calmer front - Chris Murray stays
Meanwhile on a calmer note, Kapsch has named Christopher F Murray president & CEO of the north American division of Kapsch, named Kapsch Trafficom IVHS. Murray of course was president & CEO of Mark IV IVHS, so this represents continuity for the major north American manufacturing, research, sales and service for the E-ZPass group of toll agencies plus the other major program - the ASTMv6 standard transponder-reader systems supplied for truck weigh station bypass and toll collection on H407 toll road there in Toronto.
Murray will have charge of all Kapsch activities in the US, Canada and Mexico.
Georg Kapsch CEO of the parent Kapsch Trafficom Group in Vienna is quoted: "We are pleased that Chris Murray has agreed to head our entire North American operations. As the President of MARK IV IVHS, he is experienced in this very specialized business segment. We are confident that under his leadership, Kapsch TrafficCom will be recognized in North America for excellence in service and support, and for providing a comprehensive portfolio of Intelligent Transportation Systems and Electronic Toll Collection solutions which meet the business needs of our clients."
BACKGROUND: The purchase of the big E-ZPass equipment supplier Mark IV IVHS Division by Kapsch was announced November 5 last year and closed financially November 30. Kapsch AG based in Vienna, Austria has its origins as the world's largest supplier of electronic toll equipment in an early dedicated short range communications innovator in Sweden named Combitech, at one time part of Saab which attracted a number of talented radio engineers. It produced equipment operating at higher frequencies than the US 915MHz - at 2.45GHz then 5.8GHz.
Mark IV IVHS derives from a French Canadian group that began under the unfortunate (in English) corporate name and brand Vapor out of Montreal. Like the Amtech/TransCore people in the US they started in rail and other supply chain read-only RF tags.
The enlarged Kapsch company counts 260 major customers in 40 countries and about 17,000 toll lanes equipped with readers, and 40m transponders or on board units (OBUs) as they term them. About 22m of the transponders of the expanded Kapsch are E-ZPass. Those 22m are used in 3,700 E-ZPass toll lanes in the US, a much higher intensity of tolling than outside the US where 18m transponders are in use in some 13,000+ toll lanes.
Kapsch-sans-Mark IV had almost no serious sales in North America but it has worked doggedly to develop the 5.9GHz Intellidrive system for a variety of smart vehicle (ITS) systems including tolling. These have got to several pilot projects of promise, plus one toll system - at the Port of Hood River bridge in Oregon (see Breeze By logo.)
Kapsch and Mark IV made a joint proposal some years ago to the E-ZPass Group in their decade-long out procurement of a new reader-tag system suggesting a transition to 5.9GHz. This is competing with a TransCore proposal for 915MHz high-end multi-protocol transponders plus sticker tags and multi-protocol readers.