Dr Steve Nuttall, a director at research group Fifth Quadrant, likes to talk about fleet leaders, a group he’s identified after studying them for decades. He talks about them on Fleet News Group’s latest podcast with host Caroline Falls.
“Being able to reduce their energy consumption as a key metric helps them both reduce carbon emissions and save money at the same time. So that’s an example of how a leader is figuring out how to kind of balance those different kinds of metrics.
“What we then also see is that not only are they being able to reduce in terms of outcomes, not only are they able to reduce their running costs, but they’re also looking at how they can then use that to become more efficient to the business — so increased business efficiency, better asset utilisation.
“And then when you kind of look at examples of what a leader is doing around that, they’re looking at things like pool vehicles, and online booking systems and fully integrated fleet management platforms.
“These leaders take a much more kind of holistic perspective. And I think that as fleet managers, they are also more influential in their organisation in the sense that they’re part of conversations that are shaping the strategy and future direction of the company.”
Nuttall is also an equity partner at Fifth Quadrant, a brand that used to sit alongside ACA Research in the market research group. Nuttall explained they simply retired the business name ACA (which was renowned for its automotive and fleet studies) and stuck with the more forward sounding brand.
The automotive research, some going back as far as 20 years and including surveys conducted in collaboration with the Australasian Fleet Management Association, continues to be produced.
The latest — in collaboration with AfMA, the NSW Government, and energy retailer Ampol — covers fleet electrification, was published in November. It follows a similar study conducted by ACA in 2020, thereby mapping progress fleets are making on their EV journeys.
Nuttall talked about how the inception of electric vehicles has brought a very different dynamic to fleet management when compared with traditional vehicle assets.
“It’s a much more complicated decision than just going out and buying an ICE vehicle. [With ] An internal combustion engine vehicle, it’s weighing out the models and considering total cost of ownership and lease versus purchase — a fairly straightforward decision.
“[Introducing EVs] is a different kind of decision.
“Preparing for electrification is not about just going out and buying vehicles. It’s about planning for that in a systematic way,” said Nuttall.
Considerations include where and how they will be charged, whether they will be charged at the company depot or at drivers’ homes, and, if at home, how will drivers be reimbursed? and, if on site, what will the energy load requirements be?
“Have you spoken to your energy provider? Plan for that? Have you thought about whether they’d be fast chargers or overnight chargers? All of these, I think, are really important considerations.
“You’ve got to think about power distribution units, you’ve got to think about energy storage systems, you got to think about bidirectional charging inverters, you have got to think about smart grid management systems. All of these are really important considerations.”
As always Nuttall gives us a lot to think about.