What’s the biggest problem facing fleet? Will EVs change the face of our industry? How long have you been around this industry anyway?
By Richard Mallek, Director of Business Development at FLD
There are a lot of questions swirling around fleet these days. Perhaps more than at any time in the century or so since businesses began relying on automotive fleets to ferry their workers, deliver their goods, and do their bidding. Since then, the fleet phenomenon has only grown, reaching the point where today some twenty million fleet vehicles ply America’s roads. And while much has changed about this industry we love, much has also stayed the same.
My how things have changed.
Today’s fleets are facing the types of challenges one could hardly have imagined just a decade ago. That includes a pandemic that wiped out businesses at will and left most every industry on the planet struggling to find both its footing and a productive way forward.
In addition to the ravages of Covid, fleets have been left struggling in a variety of ways. That includes a worldwide microchip shortage that eventually led to a vehicle shortage that’s hobbling fleets in ways few could hardly have imagined. Throw in the ravages of supply chain and labor shortages, followed by a once-in-a-century challenge like electric vehicle integration, and things have been pressure packed for the good folks in fleet.
That got us to thinking at FLD. How are fleet professionals feeling after these raucous few years? And where do they think our industry stands in the wake of these once in a lifetime challenges? Even more important, where do these same professionals think we’re headed in both the near and long term future?
To get some answers to these – and other – burning questions, the team here at FLD decided to institute our new fleet poll, a weekly one question survey focused on the most important issues facing our industry. Published in our ad in each Wednesday’s newest issue of Fleet Management Weekly, the poll is not just our way of getting answers to some of fleet’s most important questions, but of sharing actionable and meaningful insights with our friends in the fleet space. Thus far, we’ve received some really great answers, including people’s thoughts on issues like:
Where will gas prices finish the year?
We asked this question just as gas prices started coming off their ridiculous highs, something our respondents were starting to see and feel themselves. And despite national averages peaking at just shy of $5 earlier this year, a full 66% of respondents said they suspected gas prices would finish the year between $3 and $4 a gallon, a much more likely scenario given that gas prices have steadily moderated over the last three months.
What’s the biggest problem facing fleet?
When asked to choose between four looming questions concerning shortages, EVs, inflation and supply chain woes, fleet pros were almost evenly split between challenges around shortages and EVs – 50% to 43% respectively. Hardly surprising given the trajectory of these two subjects, with EVs quickly changing long held practices, and shortages forcing creative work arounds, the likes of which our industry has rarely seen.
What’s your opinion of EV proliferation across the fleet space?
Given the myriad questions surrounding the use of electric vehicles in fleets, it was hardly a shocker that roughly 43% of respondents had a negative view of EVs. And why not? Given continued challenges around range, charging infrastructure, battery recovery, and whether or not EVs – from a cradle to grave perspective – are still a good thing for fleets. Roughly 30% of respondents had a positive view of EVs in fleet, and 26% admitted the “jury was still out,” meaning nearly 70% of the fleet pros that took our survey were not loving EVs (at least not yet).
Have you returned to an in-person industry event since the dawn of Covid?
With many companies still facing corporate travel restrictions (especially at the beginning of the year), it might not seem surprising that many fleet professionals haven’t traveled much for business. Still, we were a little taken aback that a full 52% of the people who took the poll still hadn’t returned to an in-person event or meeting since Covid appeared more than two years ago. And while that seemed like a really large number at the time, it will probably taper in the months and years ahead.
How many years have you been in fleet?
Hardly a burning question, but a good indication by the responses we received that our industry is still dominated by long time veterans, most well north of 50 years old. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but an indication that our industry could undoubtedly use an influx of younger folks and fresh ideas. And while little on the horizon leads us to believe that will change soon, hiring more young people is something all of us could benefit from.
We hope that if you’re taking our weekly fleet poll that you’ve been enjoying answering the questions and gleaning actionable insights that can help you in your job and career. Please keep taking the poll, and, if you haven’t, be sure to go to www.fldinc.com/poll each week to take the new poll, and to see the responses to the previous week’s question. There’s nothing to sign up for, and we never ask for or capture your information.
About the Author
Richard Mallek is Director of Business Development at FLD, and an 11-year veteran of the fleet space. He specializes in helping companies that are going through a merger or acquisition right size their fleets while avoiding risk. He can be reached at [email protected].