18 nov 20

Why digital technologies hold the key to the future of fleet

Data and digital tools are proving essential as businesses and their fleets devise strategies to cope with the pandemic and emerge into the new normal. Digitisation holds the key to fleets meeting the burning issues of today and tomorrow – the need to cust costs, enhance efficiency, and improve sustainability, as well as linking vital suppliers in the mobility supply chain of the future.

Kevin Scott, Director Strategic Initiatives, Bridgestone Mobility Solutions / Webfleet Solutions, said: “As we exit this crisis we believe the ability to compete in the new landscape is strongly linked to the ability to plan your fleet and reseources well.”

He forecasts that the role of fleet manager will expand significantly and require additional planning tools.

“These can be used to manage your current fleet and also to support maintenance scheduling, communication with your drivers, and relationship management with your customers. These tools will also be needed to plan for your fleet of the future to incorporate autonomous electric or shared vehicles into your fleet,” said Scott (pictured above).

While basic telematics systems have been available for a couple of decades, the data they have collected is weak compared to the flood of rich information that is increasingly available to fleet managers via connected vehicles, said Nicola Veratelli, CEO, Octo Group.

“We cannot have smart cities and shared vehicles without connectivity,” he said. “Data is the biggest driver of everything, it’s absolutely key. But we need to transform this data from just being a huge amount of information into something that is actionable and that provides value. We need to allow fleet managers to become more dynamic, and become mobility managers, not just optimising TCO, but also improving the way the fleet is managed. We call it Vision Zero – less pollution, less congestion and fewer accidents.”

More detailed analytics will provide fleet managers with valuable information unique to each individual vehicle, such as identifying when it needs maintenance according to its own particular usage, or calculating its residual value, added Cory O'Brien, OEM Stream Leader, Octo.

“You will be able to estimate the residual value of a vehicle based on real usage characteristics about how you used that specific vehicle, so if there was a bump or an accident that was hard to detect, you can take that into account in the value of the vehicle,” he said.

Data must provide insights

Sifting meaningful information from the tsunami of data soon to be available to fleet decision makers will, however, be vitally important, said John Saffrett, Deputy CEO, ALD Automotive (pictured above).

“Data, data, data… everyone is talking about data, and in the mobility industry we have data everywhere,” he said. “Geolocation data, historic data, maintenance data, connected car data, behavioural data. But data is only useful if it tells the user something about themselves that they did not know anyway, or provides some insight to help them live a better life. There’s no point telling users which journeys they have already done, because they already know. And there’s no point telling them how many times they broke the speed limit because they already knew. The key with connected car data is to find value and insight which creates new knowledge for the client to act upon.”

One area where this is proving particularly useful is in the profiling of drivers and vehicles to identify which could switch without compromise to an electric vehicle.

Work by data intelligence platform Vinli, analysing data from 10,000 ALD Automtive cars in the UK, discovered that 69% of drivers drove further than 320km (200 miles) in a day no more than once per month.

Mark Haidar, Chief Executive Officer of Vinli, said: “Most of the drivers on the road need the range to go beyond 320km on only one day of the month, so if a leasing company or mobility provider could provide a car once per month for those drivers, they will never have an issue with range moving forward.”

This is exactly the type of scenario that ALD Switch in Belgium and the Netherlands aims to solve by offering a lease arrangement for a small electric car supplemented by credits for the daily rental of a larger petrol or diesel vehicle when they need it. It’s a solution that could save fleets significant sums, according to Benjamin Huvé, Senior International Consultant, ALD Automotive.

He revealed figures that show how the monthly TCO of a petrol-powered Volvo XC40 is already higher than for either the electric or plug-in hybrid versions (PHEV) of the same car, due to savings in fuel and taxes offsetting higher lease rentals.

But the savings from swapping the petrol XC40 for an electric Peugeot e-2008, supplemented by 60 days of ICE daily rental per year via ALD Switch, would be a massive -34%, €914 compared to the Volvo’s €1,397 per month.

Time to be strategic

The good news is that technology and digitisation are freeing fleet managers from many of the mundane tasks that occupy their days and creating more time for them to become strategic in outlook.

Yves Helven, Co-founder, CMaaS, said:“Managing a fleet in the connected world does give the fleet manager much more time to work on strategy because all the annoying parts of the job, like invoice control, can be digitised. But the change is even more about what strategy means – today we are mostly talking about cost saving, sustainability and supply chains, but tomorrow it’s going to be a lot more about integrating connected services, managing employee behaviour and plugging in the right vendors into the ecosystem of the client.”


Authored by: Jonathan Manning