The 4 Must-Know Fleet Management Trends of 2021

2021 Fleet Management Trends

By now, your 2021 planning is in the rearview mirror. You’ve got your strategy set and are busy navigating the new year. But if we know one thing about fleet management, it’s this: hitting “cruise control” isn’t going to help you optimize your total cost of ownership (TCO) or enhance your efficiency. Simply put, the best-performing fleets are the ones that are optimized continually. As you implement and improve your 2021 strategy, keep these trends—and opportunities for cost-savings—in mind.

COVID-19 Safety

With the coronavirus pandemic entering its second calendar year, we’ve all had time to adjust to the “new normal.” Industry research confirms what everyone around the industry knows: fleets moved quickly to navigate COVID-19. In an August survey, 36% of companies with large truck fleets said that they had altered their routes. One in four had to change what their trucks were hauling because of pandemic safety concerns. In another survey, 80% of fleet owners had implemented new health precautions as a result of COVID-19. The most common policy changes included allowing only one person per vehicle, implementing no-contact delivery, cleaning vehicles daily and, in some cases, eliminating business travel. 

In 2021, fleets will continue to make health and safety a top priority. If you’ve already updated your policies to reflect the pandemic, evaluate what worked and what didn’t. It starts with the data. Are your procedures protecting your drivers, passengers and clients from COVID-19 exposure? Do you have enough PPE to meet your workforce’s requirements? Does the current phase of the pandemic require additional route changes or health policies? By asking these questions and looking to the data for answers, you can continue to prioritize health, safety and productivity in 2021.

Electric Fleet Vehicles

In 2018, electric vehicle sales hit an all-time record. By 2019, they accounted for 2.6% of global car sales—a 40% year-over-year increase. As safety, technology and affordability continue to drive electric vehicles forward, future-minded fleets are getting serious about EV adoption. For many fleet owners, this once-unfeasible option is quickly becoming closer to reality.

EVs still have higher sticker prices than ICEs. However, the initial price tag is only part of the equation. As of November 2020, 45 states and Washington D.C. offered EV incentives, many of which apply to fleet owners. The U.S. Department of Energy, meanwhile, estimates that all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles have energy costs of $50 to $80 per month, compared with $160 to $200 monthly for gas vehicles. McKinsey says that by 2030, EV fleets will have a TCO 15% to 25% less than equivalent internal combustion engine (ICE) fleets.

All these developments are making EVs a worthwhile consideration for fleets of all sizes. However, there’s still the elephant in the room: charging stations. At the current rate of adoption, fleet EVs would consume 230 terawatt-hours of power per year by 2030; that’s an unbelievable 6% of the nation’s current power generation. The result? Companies are investing big in EV charging infrastructure in 2021. If you’re considering EVs, watch the charging solution market closely so that you can determine if and when it’s practical for you to make the switch.

If EVs aren’t in the cards for you this year, you can still take steps to optimize your fuel costs. The right fuel card can help reduce your expenditure. So can optimizing driver behavior. If you’re not already reviewing data points like route optimization, trip history and vehicle idling, now is the time to put those analytics to good use.

Data Integration

Between GPS, telematics and software, fleet managers have access to more data than ever before. But that data is only valuable if you can use it. And to truly use it, you need to integrate it.

If you’ve read the Onward blog, you already know that we’re big proponents of a comprehensive, full lifecycle asset management strategy. Why? Because when you have a “full picture” of your assets, you can identify opportunities for cost savings across every stage of its lifecycle. Data integration allows you to connect the dots across all your data, delivering one holistic view of all the factors that affect your asset’s TCO. In 2020, asset management solutions were already on the rise. In 2021, expect more fleet managers to adopt these platforms, which integrate data from all your various streams—GPS, telematics, maintenance and beyond—so that you can identify opportunities to enhance your fleet’s performance in the moment, not during your end-of-year planning session. If you haven’t already adopted an asset management solution or another platform that integrates your data, time is of the essence. If you have, take the steps needed to ensure that it pulls together data from all your technologies and programs. Then, review the analytics regularly to identify opportunities for cost savings.

Customized Solutions 

In today’s digital era, customization is king. The same personalized approach that’s transforming everything from healthcare to advertising is also shifting how fleets manage their operations. Every fleet is different. The most effective solutions reflect this reality, tailoring programs, services and strategies to a business’ unique dynamics. 

The influx of fleet data is opening the door to new levels of customization. In 2021, we’ll continue to see more fleets seek out partners who develop tailored strategiesones that utilize data analytics, best practices, partnerships and ingenuity to meet businesses where they are today. We’ll also see personalized approaches to individual programs like fuel cards and maintenance. In the hands of a skilled partner, these customized solutions can “rightsize” fleet management for small- and medium-sized fleets overlooked by enterprise solutions in the past. For large fleets, customized solutions can ensure that strategy, operations and cost-saving goals align.

Are you ready to optimize your fleet’s performance in 2021? Do you need help using data to its full potential or calculating your true TCO? Let Onward show you the way. Our team leverages best-in-class partnerships, fleet management experience, proven technology and a customized approach to help businesses optimize their operations. Whether you’re looking for individual programs or a comprehensive solution, we’ll design a strategy that brings out the best in your fleet’s performance.

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