Envisaging tomorrow’s company vehicle fleet

As technology becomes more pervasive across every aspect of our private and business lives, it is also having a big impact on how companies optimise their use and deployment of company vehicles. 

Company vehicle fleets are beginning to take on a very different shape and are likely to continue to do so in the future, according to Geoff Tipene, sgfleet’s managing director in New Zealand.

When asked what he imagined a typical company fleet in NZ might look like in 2029, Tipene points to a fleet that is more efficient, part EV and managed with telematics technology. 

“Mobility is more than just using a ‘tool of trade’ vehicle. Solutions for A-to-A or A-to-B transport will include other means such as rail, bus, Uber, car share, etc. 

“Specialist fit-for-purpose vehicles will always be required but will be managed via telematics, resulting in a fleet running at its optimal potential whilst improving driver safety,” he says.  

So will the future mean all peer-to-peer sharing/autonomous vehicles and electric vehicles? 

Eventually, says Tipene, but a very long way in the future. 

“EVs are here to stay and will be a big part of the vehicle landscape. It’s exciting to be part of this EV movement from the beginning.”

He says sgfleet has worked with industry bodies, suppliers and manufacturers to understand what is required to help its customers prepare for the addition of ZEVs or hybrids to their current fleets in order to reduce operating costs, lower CO2 emissions and meet other environmental goals.

“In exploring options for our own fleet we have come to understand the complex and often unique requirements of each individual charging and parking site.

”sgfleet’s eStart ZEV Transition Plan offers an end-to-end planning solution that includes assessment of a company’s goals, vehicle-by-vehicle review, site inspections, infrastructure upgrades and installation of charging points to help effectively plan and manage budget expectations. 

“Through our deep knowledge of a fleet, we will be able to manage the whole-of-life vehicle cost and recommend the right vehicle mix to support our customers’ goals.” (See https://estart.com.au/)

Tipene says some of the company’s clients are already looking in this direction. “Across the group, we have seen a spike in interest in EVs, with New Zealand leading that trend very clearly. Initiatives by our customers vary from initial assessment of the merits and feasibility of EV fleet to actual replacement of a significant part of their existing fleets to EVs.”

He understands sgfleet New Zealand was the first in the market to create solutions and support customers who wanted to dip a toe in the EV pond. Now, four years down the track, it has EVs at different levels in 70 percent of its customers’ fleets. 

Car sharing by employees and car sharing technology in pool cars is also seeing increased take-up. 

“The key element with car sharing partners is the ‘no minimum use’ policy where our customers will no longer pay to have a car share vehicle on-site but will only do so when the vehicle is actually used. Enhanced functionality within sgfleet’s Fleetintelligence portal means fleet managers and administrators can quickly allocate trips to the correct cost centres and track usage by driver.”

So are there any other trends he is seeing in the global fleet market? 

“New Zealand is often a leader in new trends because as a marketplace it lends itself to experimentation. 

“Other than EVs and AVs, there is a lot of talk about airborne transport such as package delivery and even human transport drones. Maybe we will see the early stages of that in New Zealand in the not too distant future,” he says.


More car sharing

Meanwhile more than 25,000 vehicle owners and renters in New Zealand have registered to join the Yourdrive platform which uses short term rentals as a way of filling the gap left by other forms of public transport.

And Yourdrive, which says it is the country’s largest car sharing platform with more than 500 registered vehicles, has just introduced new technology that will send a digital key to a smart device allowing the vehicle to be accessed by a renter.

The company says that car sharing or peer-to-peer car rentals involve owners making their vehicles available for periods of time. “Peer-to-peer rentals are part of the sharing economy; a business model which encourages greater utilisation of the existing car fleet and reduces the need for vehicle ownership.”

The digital key, which facilities rentals without the need for owner and renter to meet, is created by installing remote access hardware in vehicles. The device allows anyone renting the vehicle to receive a code to their smartphone which will open the car via the Yourdrive app when they pick it up.

Oscar Ellison CEO of Yourdrive says in a media release that the technology is similar in principle to the electric scooter rental model and is expected to transform the local car sharing industry by opening up new markets.

He says most consumers only use their vehicles about four percent of the time and yet they carry the fixed overheads of vehicle ownership for a much higher usage.

“Peer to peer vehicle rentals are growing rapidly throughout New Zealand, particularly in urban areas where public transport infrastructure is well developed. It means that car owners who take the train or bus to work, or don’t use their car on the weekends, can derive an income from their vehicle when it is not in use.

“The need to collect the keys from the owner is one of the main barriers to use of the platform, as some owners end up turning away offers to rent their vehicle when they can’t get away to meet their customer.”

Ellison says under the Yourdrive GO programme, his company will cover the $250 cost to retrofit vehicles.

He says they have already installed hardware in more than a dozen vehicles around Auckland and Wellington.

“We aim to have these devices installed in more than 100 vehicles around the country over the next 12 months, starting with the most frequently rented vehicles and locations, and expanding out into the regions from there,” he says.   


Awards for fleet safety

The road safety charity Brake is currently assessing the entries for its 2019 Australasian Fleet Safety Awards. 

The awards, sponsored by the NZ Transport Agency, recognise the achievements of organisations and individuals working to reduce the number of road crashes involving people who drive on work purposes so the annual awards are open to fleet operators and suppliers who want to gain recognition for their fleet safety initiatives. 

Caroline Perry, Brake’s New Zealand director, says the awards celebrate the best of fleet safety. “We know there are lots of organisations doing fantastic work already to tackle their road risk, and these awards are a great opportunity to celebrate their successes and share best practice within the industry.”

Last year’s winners included NZ Racing Board, EROAD, NZ Trucking Association and Waste Management.

The awards are part of Global Fleet Champions, an initiative by Brake for fleet professionals, aimed at sharing best practice in road risk management. 

Brake says that anyone involved in managing at-work drivers, and suppliers to fleets, can join Global Fleet Champions for free and gain access to best practice information. See www.globalfleetchampions.org.  

Brake is an international road safety charity. Its New Zealand division promotes road safety and campaigns against the carnage on New Zealand roads. It is also fundraising to improve support for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. 

See www.brake.org.nz


Reducing over-speed events

Data collated by EROAD shows that its total New Zealand customer base has reduced its over-speed events by 47 percent and the company says its customers are noticing these reductions both for owner-drivers and company-owned vehicles.

Health and safety has been at the core of EROAD since the company launched into the commercial market almost a decade ago with the world’s first nationwide road user charging system. 

“The accuracy and security required of a system originally developed for regulatory compliance, has ensured EROAD’s products and services can be relied on and is why government agencies and auditors accept reports generated through the EROAD system,” the company says.

As well as reducing time spent on compliance reporting, EROAD’s one technology platform is helping transport operators reduce the frequency and seriousness of incidents. 

“To drive on our roads should not require spinning the roulette wheel of life. It is important to us to know that what we do, what our products and services enable for our customers, also helps get more people home safely, every night, says EROAD CEO, Steven Newman.     www.eroad.co.nz

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