A recent Shell survey of fleet managers asked what challenges were uppermost in their minds and how well prepared they felt to face them. The answers published in the report were illuminating.
Almost four out of every 10 fleet managers in Europe expect just staying competitive to be a challenge soon. The three big changes respondents see coming are the adoption of new fuel types (53%), the introduction of new technologies (48%) and the advent of new vehicle types (47%).
This is entirely consistent with other independent research and with the broader industry view. But surprisingly, over half of fleet managers say that they have experienced resistance to change either from drivers or from senior management. This suggests an environment in which fleet managers often don’t get the support they need to make the best decisions for their organisations. This is entirely regrettable, as it’s ultimately those organisations with inertia that will suffer from most. This makes it even more vital that fleet managers have the data and the evidence they need to make the business case for change now.
To prepare themselves and their fleets for the challenges ahead, fleet managers need the institutional support necessary to shape and adapt their organisations to the new normal. Failure to do so, is preparing to fail.
“The retail, entertainment and travel sectors have undergone radical disruption due to new technology, with new players like Amazon, Netflix and Expedia shaking up traditional industries. Until very recently, the commercial fleet sector has — except for incremental advances — remained relatively unchanged. Not for much longer,” says Katya Atanasova, VP, Shell Fleet Solutions.
“A convergence of new technologies, services and greater connectivity is set to reshape the sector, requiring new skills as well as creating new industry players and business models. By 2040, the fleet industry could transform almost beyond recognition. Virtually all smaller vehicles are likely to be electric. Larger long-haul transport will transition to renewable and low-emission fuels. Many vehicles will be self-driving, with routine maintenance via software download and artificial intelligence enabling individual fleet vehicles to take themselves to an optimal location for refuelling and overnight parking – ready for their allotted tasks the following day.
“We could see ‘vehicle-less’ fleets, with companies using the logistics equivalent of ride-hailing apps to manage networks of independent vehicles to share loads efficiently, manage deliveries on demand and remove the capital and operational cost of owning vehicles themselves. Exponential growth in the volume of data will ensure that fleets are as efficient as possible, leading to financial and environmental gains as well as making planning and journeys easier for both managers and drivers.”