The fleet management industry has always adapted and evolved to find solutions to the problems that challenge fleet professionals. However, as the industry continues to provide solutions for fleet professionals, it’s only natural that the issues facing the fleet management industry would evolve as well.
Here are five critical issues Donlen experts and customers determine will face the fleet management industry in 2020.
Rise of Electric Vehicles
Although it’s considered behind in comparison to countries in Europe and Asia, in the United States, electric vehicles are on the horizon.
Donlen senior vice president of operations and supply chain, Khalid Latif, said that while we still have some infrastructure issues to resolve, the shift to electric vehicles will indeed happen, and it will happen fast.
“Customers are moving as many vehicles as they can to electric,” Latif said. “Some customers are looking to be all electric within the next couple of years.”
In addition to regulation, the demand will rise for electric vehicles by younger generations entering the workforce.
“Demand is driven by the way companies position themselves to younger, more environment-friendly talent. They want to work for companies that are socially responsible, and a cost-effective way to show a company is making those efforts is through electric vehicles,” Latif said.
At the end of the day, the rise of electric vehicles highly depends on what the use of the vehicle is – whether it be for a business or individual consumer.
“Based on perspective, the use of the vehicles varies exponentially. The needs for it are different, so what might be considered an issue for a unique individual will not be the same for a driver in your fleet,” Latif said.
Sedans vs. SUVs
Over the years, the fleet industry has witnessed fewer sedans and more SUVs on the roads. According to Cindy Gomez, Donlen vice president of vehicle acquisition services, this is a trend that has now stabilized.
“The status of the issue depends on the OEM,” Gomez said. “Some are getting away from the sedan segment and others are not. It really comes down to whether the OEM is domestic or not.”
Import OEMs indeed continue to build sedans to meet the needs of an existing customer base. With the differences in import OEMs versus domestic OEMs, Gomez said the education of how, for example, process and lead times work with import OEMs will be a key component.
John Wuich, Donlen vice president of strategic consulting services, also added that the closing of doors to domestic OEM production of sedans has opened the doors to wider fleet acceptance of foreign alternatives.
“This includes vehicles that have not been traditionally part of fleet, such as the Hyundai Elantra,” Wuich said.
Changing regulations around emission
Vehicle emissions (or as Latif refers to them, the pollution you can’t see) continue to be a growing concern for fleet professionals. As the restrictions on the acceptable limit of emissions grow tighter, fleet managers are left wondering how to decrease their fleet’s emissions without compromising productivity. Other than electric vehicles, options are proving difficult to find.
Additionally, with constant updates and revisions to emissions regulations, fleet professionals are challenged to stay informed and follow said regulations. Most fleet management companies recognize they have a social responsibility and are actively looking for ways to help fleets minimize their carbon emissions.
Companies must not only realize their corporate emission goals, but seek out the right tools to help make the right vehicle selection.
Consider Donlen’s Vehicle Optimization Model®, which allows fleet managers to compare carbon emissions calculations when making vehicle selection decisions. Additionally, fleet professionals should work with a FMC with a consulting-like approach when it comes to electrification in order to meet corporate emissions goals.
Autonomous vehicles have been a hot topic of conversation for many years now. When will they hit the market? How can we prepare for their arrival?
According to Forbes, the adoption of this technology is proving challenging due to complexities and costs that are not fully understood or even observable until there’s more development and experimentation.
So what does this mean for the fleet industry? According to John Korte, VP strategic business development and former VP mobility business development at Donlen, it’s going to be a long transition into the adoption of autonomous fleets.
"Vehicles will still need to be serviced on a regular basis, which will still require the tools of a fleet management company,” Korte said. “There’s still time for companies like Donlen to manage what that growth looks like, but we certainly need to be ready with a redefined suite of products to be able to help companies as they look to include more autonomous vehicles in their fleets.”
Focus on safety
The fleet management industry is constantly searching for ways to increase vehicle and driver safety, as it is always a top priority for fleet managers. Because aggressive, distracted and even risky driving behavior won’t disappear overnight, the focus on safety is a constant fleet industry issue.
While there are several tips and tricks to improve fleet safety, make the most impactful change through telematics.
Through telematics, fleet managers can observe driver behavior to address any issues and encourage good driving techniques to improve the overall safety of the vehicle and its driver.
“What telematics allows fleets to do is to really be corrective with high-risk drivers in particular,” Eli Rossiter, director, telematics and safety products, said. “You can monitor risky behavior such as harsh acceleration and deceleration and speeding, and then once that behavior is identified you can assign safety training to those drivers in order to ensure your drivers are safe on the road.”
Most fleet professionals agree that finding solutions to these critical issues facing the industry is imperative to the success of their fleet. With discussion around these issues, we can meet these challenges head on and work together to develop solutions to suit the ever-evolving fleet industry.