In review: 2019 fleet trends

The start to 2020 is just a week away and while we’re excited to see what the new year will bring to our industry in terms of technological advancements and new automotive trends, we wanted to take a quick look back over 2019’s fleet trends.

From news coverage to conference presentations, these six fleet trends kept popping up throughout the year and were given a lot of attention. Let’s take a minute before 2020’s here to talk about the fleet trends of 2019 and what to prepare for in 2020.

1. Telematics integration

Telematics is an important fleet tool that continues to evolve and track new data and we don’t see the trend of integrating telematics into fleet operations changing anytime soon in the future. In fact, we see telematics playing a central role in helping fleet managers make better decisions about their operations, and even finding ways to automate the operational changes that are needed for a more successful fleet, like stopping speeding or ensuring safety compliance across the board.

Today’s telematics requires time for analyzing the data and creating new policies or driver training to drive change in the business, but we see the future of telematics moving toward a system that takes that data and optimizes other business tools or the vehicles themselves.  

There are many benefits of telematics for fleets, such as reducing fuel costs, improving safety, rightsizing the fleet, vehicle health, GPS tracking of vehicles and driver behavior, and improving productivity.

2. Finding fuel savings

Most every fleet manager we talk with highlights the importance of cutting costs in their fleet, especially fuel costs. There are a few ways to find fuel savings within your fleet:

  • Reducing idling: Excessive idling easily eats into your fuel budget and can waste up to a gallon of fuel per hour depending on the vehicle. But many jobs require the vehicle to be on or providing power so cutting out idling completely isn’t always possible. That’s where we come in to optimize a vehicle’s idle RPM and reduce it, so the vehicle is using fuel in a more conservative manner.
  • Changing driver behavior: All fleets have drivers that stomp on the gas or brakes and give in to aggressive driving behaviors, which leads to poor fuel efficiency. Aggressive driving can lower mileage by up to 40% in stop-and-go traffic, according to the US Department of Energy, and there’s no excuse for it in your fleet. A way to combat this is by creating alerts for certain driver behaviors that pings that fleet manager and the driver so they can correct their behavior. At Derive, we also focus on installing speed limiters in vehicles, so drivers always obey posted speed limits or fleet manager-set speed limits, as well as tailor shift points so vehicles use fuel more efficiently while in operation.
  • Using technology: Sometimes it’s not the driver’s behavior while inside the vehicle that leads to expensive fuel bills, but their behavior at the pump. By purchasing higher grade fuel, stopping at more expensive gas stations, or even filling up their personal vehicles on the company’s dime, these choices lead to higher fuel costs for the fleet. Use your telematics and fuel card data to set fuel expense limits, track a vehicle’s average fuel consumption and fill up schedule, and catch fraudulent fuel card purchases. Your telematics system can enable geofences around more expensive stations or you can add fuel stops on driver routes to improve fuel efficiency and productivity.

3. Lowering risks and holding drivers accountable

Fleet managers need tools and ways to address high risk drivers and hold them accountable for their risky behaviors behind the wheel. Managers are turning to telematics and driver scorecards to be transparent with how drivers are held responsible for their adherence to driver training and safety policies.

4. Using your data

Our technology continues to become more connected and integrated and that means you have tons of data at your fingertips, but that data isn’t any good if you don’t know how to analyze or use it.  This data is beneficial for day-to-day operations and helping you make strategic, long-term decisions about your fleet.

Most fleet managers are looking at four key points when it comes to telematics data:

  • Automate: Automate the collection of data and segment KPIs
  • Integrate: Having technology that plays well together and is secure
  • Analyze: Reducing the time needed to analyze the data and discover the key takeaways
  • Predict: Develop AI to predict future trends or problems you need to know about now

5. Building your workforce 

Driver retention was a hot topic in the fleet industry this year with fleet managers sharing tips and tricks for recruiting and retaining skilled drivers. Many talked about bonuses and professional development as two wins for attracting quality talent.

Culture is another important element in keeping your workforce productive and happy. Fleet managers need to focus on making remote workers feel like they’re part of the team and that their contributions are important and that the drivers feel a sense of satisfaction in what they do. It was also highlighted that programs that reward drivers instead of punishing them drive better results across the organization.

6. Future-proof your business

We heard a lot of talk at fleet conferences this year about the 3 D’s: Disrupt, differentiate, and delight. Most often the example used was that of Uber, who disrupted taxi services, differentiated what they do, and delighted customers with a great experience.

We can also see this in the shift from reactive to proactive. We all know the benefits of proactive maintenance and servicing of fleet vehicles, but is your business adopting that proactiveness across its operations?  Are you proactively reaching out to customers to make sure their needs are met or are you still reactive and waiting for the customer to tell you when they need something? In our always-connected world, today’s consumers expect your business to be proactive and anticipate their needs.

Another trend we’ve seen is the adoption of XaaS, where X is your business but operating under a subscription service model. Fleets are shifting toward this model to help drive recurring revenue each month and retain customers over a longer lifecycle.

What trend do you think had the most impact on your fleet this year? Tell us on LinkedIn!