The road to recovery? What’s coming down the road…

Jim Hill, Marketing Director at vehicle technology specialist Trakm8, examines what the next 12 months may hold in store for the fleet sector.

As hard as it may be to believe, we will shortly be entering the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The world has changed immeasurably since March 2020 and the fleet sector is no different. The pandemic has left an indelible mark on how we drive for work, not least hastening the rise of the grey fleet.

With remote working in some capacity here to stay at many businesses, it’s no surprise organisations up and down the country have been considering their fleet expenditure. In some cases, this has led to the scaling down of the traditional fleet and encouraging personnel to use their own vehicles for business driving.

This is a trend we anticipated last year, with the publication of our report into the impact of the pandemic on the UK’s grey fleet car parc. According to our findings, almost half of all fleet managers (42%) believe that their business will adopt at least a partial grey fleet strategy in the coming years as a direct result of the pandemic. 

Moving beyond COVID-19, this year – and indeed this decade – will be a pivotal moment in time for the fight against climate change.

The transport sector has a vital role to play in cleaning up Britain’s roads, and we are committed to supporting fleets nationwide to ‘go green’. That’s why we have thrown our weight behind Idling Action London’s Engine’s Off campaign; an awareness programme designed to tackle engine idling, one of the most carbon intensive driving behaviours, in the Capital.

Such schemes play a key role in changing attitudes and encouraging better driving habits, and I’ve no doubt we’ll see similar initiatives rolled out in other major UK urban areas throughout 2022.

“It won’t only be clean air that will be on the legislative agenda for roads this year. Safety will also play a critical role”

Jim Hill, Narketing Director, Trakm8

If the UK is to meet its ambitious carbon reduction targets (slashing emissions by 78% by 2035), it is clear the number of electric vehicles on our roads will need to grow exponentially.

While there has been some reticence in the industry regarding fleet electrification – with concerns around perceived cost and infrastructure readiness particularly prevalent – I’m genuinely encouraged at the sustainability savings electric vehicles can represent for fleets. And with some businesses now offering salary sacrifice to encourage employees to switch to electrical vehicles, we could see demand for sustainable transport soar over the next few years.

Last year, Trakm8’s EV Charge Point Platform and Optimisation expertise was involved in the pioneering Smart Islands Energy System (SMILE) project, an EU backed initiative which sought to demonstrate different technological and non-technological solutions for large-scale smart grid usage for electric vehicles.

The recently published report showcases the ways in which governments can ready their infrastructure to meet the charging demands of an increase in electric vehicles, and it was exciting to be a part of such a ground-breaking study.

It won’t only be clean air that will be on the legislative agenda for roads this year. Safety will also play a critical role. Changes to the Highway Code will see pedestrians given right of way at junctions and cyclists allowed to ride in the middle of the road. For fleet managers, it is imperative these changes are communicated to their drivers to ensure avoidable incidents and accidents are averted. 

Looking at the wider automotive supply chain, it seems vehicle parts shortages will – in the short term at least – remain a part of life.

To combat any shortage-enforced vehicle downtime, fleets should plan ahead as far as possible – be that bulk ordering of stock or ensuring their vehicles are subject to a stringent MOT, service and maintenance regimen. Connectedcare, Trakm8’s one-stop vehicle health solution, can afford fleet managers valuable piece of mind that their vehicles are in good working order. Via deep CANbus connectivity, Connectedcare can provide real-time, data rich insights into a vehicle’s performance and health, helping operators spot – and rectify – potential faults before they can manifest as unexpected, costly downtime.

While we hope the headlines from last summer, of fuel and driver shortages, won’t be repeated in 2022, it would be wise for fleet operators to ensure they are maximising the efficiency of their existing fleet.

Our Optimisation platform provides fleets route mapping software, ensuring vehicles are working in a way that maximises both efficiency and productivity, ultimately helping fleet assets deliver maximum ROI for businesses.

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