2023 Fleet Industry Trends: Finally, Some Good News

2023 Fleet Management Trends

As the fleet industry settles into Q1, we’re already seeing several dynamics take shape. Some, like supply chain issues and labor shortages, are stubborn holdovers from the pandemic years. But others, like a slew of upcoming EV incentives, are providing some much-needed good news for the fleet industry. And after a three-year wild ride, we could all use some of that. 

Whether you’re just building your fleet, in expansion mode or are ready to get serious about your total cost of ownership (TCO), these insights can help you go “onward and upward” in 2023. Read on for the top trends that every commercial fleet needs to know — plus our tips for incorporating them into your fleet operations.

Leasing will help ease vehicle acquisition challenges

Let’s start with the not-so-good news: Supply chain obstacles will continue to affect fleets in 2023. These snarls are hitting fleets of all sizes, triggering sky-high demand for new vehicles, increased acquisition costs and, often, painfully long wait times. If you’re a fleet manager, you already know that’s the recipe for an inflated TCO.

Before the pandemic, fleet sales made up nearly 20% of new vehicle sales across the U.S. By 2022, that number had fallen to 14%. Although OEMs increased production modestly at the end of 2022, shortages persist — and retail customers are typically at the front of the line. Where does that leave fleets? After two-plus years of microchip shortages and all-around acquisition headaches, fleet managers have very little confidence that they’ll receive the vehicles they ordered for 2023. 

But fleet managers aren’t ones to rest on their laurels, and our industry has a knack for innovating when the going gets tough. So now, on to the good news: Leasing strategies are helping fleets bypass supply chain issues and regain control. As 2023 marches on, expect to see an influx of commercial fleets using leasing to secure more favorable financing terms, scale affordably and rein in acquisition costs.

Is your fleet grappling with acquisition challenges? Let our team help you develop the most effective response — whether that’s leasing, optimizing your approach to extended service life or determining when, in fact, it truly is time to replace that vehicle in your fleet. 

Fleet electrification will hit its stride

This year, consumer electric vehicle sales are expected to eclipse 1 million units for the first time. In the world of commercial fleets, electrification has seen relatively slow adoption. However, 66% of fleet buyers are now considering EVs, and new legislation is designed to compel more fleets to make the switch. Welcome to the EV decade.

Electrification is a key aspect of the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act. To reduce “range anxiety,” the legislation provides funding for 500,000 public charging stations across the U.S. over the next five years. The U.S. Department of Transportation has already approved these EV infrastructure plans from 35 states, including our home state of Oklahoma. Meanwhile, the Inflation Reduction Act outlines a new set of EV tax credits. Although the final details are still being hammered out, commercial vehicles won’t be required to meet all the requirements of consumer vehicles in order to qualify. This combination — bigger EV incentives and better infrastructure — is compelling more fleets to get serious about alternative fuels.

As recently as a few years ago, it might have been difficult to envision managing an EV fleet. But as federal programs boost EV support and manufacturers drop EV sticker prices, this forward-thinking technology is quickly becoming not just feasible, but preferable, for more fleets than ever. When developing your EV strategy, find a partner that can leverage EV-specific expertise to help you navigate often overlooked aspects like scaling serviceability and maximizing resale value. Let Onward show you the way. 

Data availability will reach new heights

If you’re a fleet manager, you won’t be surprised to see a data-related trend on this list. However, you might be surprised at just how valuable data availability can be for your fleet in 2023. Simply put, the fleets that collect and analyze are the ones that optimize their TCO. And thanks to new advancements, that optimization is often happening in real time. 

With the continued growth in telematics and the rise of the car as a digital platform, fleets have more data from more sources than ever before. That’s one reason why integrated data management solutions have become the foundation of a fleet’s data strategy. Collecting data is no longer enough; pulling it from multiple sources to create a comprehensive view is now essential. What else has gone from “nice to have” to essential? Making your data easily accessible from anywhere via remote fleet management tools.

If you already have fleet management software, one of its major benefits is giving your team access to the data they need. When that’s paired with 5G technology, fleets can deliver the right data at the right time — and in many cases, that’s nearly real time. According to Gartner, 5G has made the automotive industry the biggest Internet of Things (IoT) opportunity of 2023. The share of 5G-connected cars that are actively connected to a 5G service will skyrocket from 15% in 2020 to 74% this year, with commercial fleets standing to benefit. Driver coaching, real-time maintenance and dynamic safety management are just a few of the ways that enhanced data availability can produce real-time value.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by this sea of data, especially if you’re managing a small- to medium-sized fleet. At Onward, we help fleets collect, integrate, visualize and access data where and when they need it most. This comprehensive, integrated approach unlocks significant value — whether that’s realized in real-time optimizations, longer-term strategies for reducing your TCO or both.

Safety will remain at the forefront

For consumers, crash-reduction technology has delivered significant safety benefits over the years. For commercial fleets, telematics has similarly played a key role in reducing risk. In one survey, nearly 75% of fleets using telematics and/or GPS tracking said it was either very effective or extremely effective at improving their fleet’s safety. But as you fine-tune your 2023 fleet operations, it’s important to go beyond telematics and utilize the latest and greatest safety strategies. That includes updates to both technology and policy. 

Across the country, driver safety programs are getting a 2023 update to address fast-evolving areas like autonomous technologies — how to use it properly, how to interact with driverless vehicles on the road, and more. As autonomous vehicles move closer to reality, expect to see more processes designed to reduce safety risks in this area. 

Dashcam technology will continue to gain adoption among commercial fleets, detecting unsafe behaviors ranging from smoking to not wearing a seatbelt. In one major study, dashcams that provided driver feedback reduced safety incidents by 60% and accident costs by 86%. Dashcams can also open the door to more targeted driver training based on documented behaviors such as harsh braking and accelerating, rolling stops, speeding and lane drifting. And when an accident does occur, these devices can offer an unbiased version of the events that took place. If you haven’t yet implemented dashcams in your commercial fleet, now is the time. 

But like any emerging technology, dashcams have faced opposition — mainly, from drivers who feel they are an intrusion. As you navigate dashcams and other safety technologies in 2023, draft clear policies that reassure your drivers about how the devices are used and how you will utilize the data you collect.

No matter your fleet’s size or stage of growth, these 2023 trends — alternative fuels, smart acquisition strategies, safety updates and data availability — can unlock measurable value. If you’re looking for a partner who uses the latest tools to optimize your TCO, Onward is the only name you need to know. Reach out to our team for a fleet management strategy that helps you go onward and upward.