– By Caroline Falls –
Steve Nutall, head of automotive research at ACA Research, delivered the keynote talk at the 2021 AfMA fleet conference, about how the fleet market is growing, and the direction it’s heading in.
“I actually haven’t got a clue what the fleet of the future is going to be looking like, the best I can do is tell you about the fleet of tomorrow,” he said, adding his outlook was based on ACA’s 2020 Fleet Insights report.
Some 742 fleet folk responded to the 2020 survey, including about 100 fleets with at least 250 vehicles, or 10 percent of the largest fleets in Australia. Compared with 2018, the fleet market had grown by about 10 percent. “It’s nice, easy, linear growth, not exponential growth,” said Nuttall.
The vast majority of businesses with fleets are tiny. Nearly 440,000 of the 460,000 fleets in Australia have less than 20 vehicles. Nutall said he zeroed into the responses from the more sophisticated of the so-called corporate fleets for his fleet of tomorrow outlook. They are the fleets that are leading the way; they are the fleets that are utilising telematics and other new technologies for more than vehicle tracking and navigation.
“We start looking at things like route planning, scheduling, proof of delivery — the delivery management space. And then you look into the more advanced features in terms of driver and vehicle performance monitoring,” said Nutall. Predictive maintenance was another telematics feature being utilised by some of the more sophisticated fleets.
For perspective, Nutall said, only one percent of the 460,000 businesses with fleets are using telematics. “It’s really small, there’s 99 percent are not using a telematics device.”
Still, the numbers using telematics are growing, and the number of features they are using is also growing, said Nutall, comparing the 2020 data with an earlier 2018 study.
“That indicates a growing level of maturity as we’re moving away from tracking dots on a map to really kind of utilising the business intelligence that’s being gathered from fleet telematics systems,” said Nuttall. Some of the elite fleets are using as many as nine telematics features. They are getting a tsunami of data, and ACA named them “the analysts”.
Interestingly, it’s the analysts who are the most satisfied with their telematics provider, according to ACA’s research, said Nutall, adding something along the lines: the more they use, the more value they get, the more satisfied they are.
Their priorities include: regulatory compliance (including COVID-related measures), reducing running costs, and increasing safety.
Nuttall said it’s likely the biggest users of telematics are also businesses utilising other sophisticated technology to connect their various units, and to connect to customers.
He believed the so-called “analysts” had optimised their fleets with telematics and were now ready to “shift into that final space of being — hyper innovative,” which is leading them to develop new products and services, and new experiences for customers. “It’s not just about intelligent use of data to automate your fleet to do predictive maintenance.”
— Caroline Falls has been writing for Fleet Auto News for five years. She is a freelancer. You can contact her at – email@example.com