Fleet outlook 2013

By on March 20, 2013

2013 a year of change and innovation in the fleet industry, says Dr David Molapo.

Change is constant in the world of fleet management. With technology dictating the pace, 2013 will see the fleet industry monitoring trends and acting proactively to make sure that clients’ needs continue to be met.

“Fleet managers increasingly need to have information on all facets of their operations at their fingertips,” says Dr David Molapo, Head of Standard Bank Fleet Management. “This is driving product innovation and service levels in the industry.”

Dr Molapo says that ‘interactivity’ is likely to become a key focus in the industry.

Fleet operators, ever in search of more cost-effective operational facilities, could be expected to broaden their focus in 2013. Factors coming under increasing scrutiny could include:

• The benefits of full maintenance leasing against traditional installment financing of motor cars and commercial vehicles
• The ‘greening’ of fleets
• Increased use of telematics

“In today’s challenging economic environment, the pressure is on to reduce operational costs and trim expenses wherever possible. It can be expected that more fleet managers, and indeed individual motorists, will begin looking at the advantages offered by full maintenance leasing,” Dr Molapo says. “This is in line with trends seen internationally where leasing is the preferred option as opposed to ownership of fleet vehicles.”

Climate change, CO2 emissions and greenhouse gases are of major concern. As pressure grows to control the potential environmental damage that can be caused by fleet operations, more companies, especially multi-nationals, will require fleet managers to report on emissions produced by fleets.

“The year ahead is likely to see more fleet managers turning to their service providers for solutions to meet such requirements, building on trends we have seen in 2012,” Dr Molapo says.

He says that the ability to compare vehicles’ emissions against a national average of similar vehicles offers further value, as does information on the performance of each vehicle. Sharing such information with drivers also raises awareness, allowing for driving habits to be changed and costs ultimately reduced.

Telematics is also likely to provide major benefits when it comes to monitoring and modifying driver habits. “The emphasis, however, must be on assisting drivers to improve their standards. If a driver is told a device is to be fitted as an aid to better driving, it will not be viewed as a management ‘spying’ device,” says Dr Molapo.

In terms of the broader motor industry, while car prices are on the rise, 2012 sales figures have held up well. There may be a shift towards smaller, more fuel efficient models, but sales can be expected to stand up relatively well to the challenging times.

Dr Molapo notes that hybrid technology has not been totally accepted in South Africa, where the trend is to stick with tried and tested petrol and diesel-powered vehicles. “While the range of vehicles in the hybrid category is growing, and as they become more practical, offering higher speeds and longer ranges, the ‘let’s wait and see’ attitude of consumers has continued. Whether 2013 will see consumer attitude beginning to change is open to debate,” he says.

“There is no doubt that whatever occurs, 2013, like the years that preceded it, will be a year of challenges, change and innovation in the fleet industry,” he says.

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