The overarching theme at its annual Institute and Exposition and International Fleet Academy
By Mark Boada, Executive Editor
As usual, there were breakout sessions on scores of topics at NAFA Fleet Management Association’s annual, week-long get-together in Anaheim, California this year, but the event’s dominant theme was introduced by President Bryan Flansburg in the remarks he made to open the event: the mobility revolution.
“We are all witnessing and living through one of the biggest, most significant, changes the auto industry has ever seen,” he told more than 2,000 fleet professionals packing the hall for breakfast and NAFA’s business meeting last Tuesday. “We as fleet managers are experiencing a paradigm shift from managing assets – four wheels on the road – to a wider perspective of mobility management. “The event was held at the Anaheim Convention Center and Marriott Hotel April 23-27.
“We must get out of the mindset of ‘doing’ fleet management and consider all of the possible ways to move things, which may or may not include a vehicle,” said Flansburg. “That may sound like heresy to some of us who have been ‘doing’ fleet management for so long, but we have to change.”
While change can be intimidating, Flansburg said the mobility revolution is inevitable and represents an opportunity that fleet managers should seize upon and lead.
“The good news is that we can be the drivers of this change, not the victims of it,” he said, “and NAFA is ready to help you make this change.” The change will include a shift from the standard fleet metric – total cost of ownership – to total cost of mobility, which includes every mode of transportation, from ride-hailing and car-sharing to public transit and planes.
“And who will control the mobility spend in your organization?” Flansburg asked. “Someone will need to, and who is in a better position than you? You [as] the mobility manager will understand and manage the full impact and implementation of this shift.” Then he issued a challenge to the audience.
“Throughout this week, I want you to consider how you can be the change agent for your organization. I challenge you to consider how you can move your workplace toward the future, instead of being moved.”
NAFA: educating fleet managers
Flansburg noted that NAFA is already at work to make good its promise to help fleet managers become mobility managers. For one, he announced that NAFA is creating educational materials and creating a webinar that it expects to roll out this fall. Mobility was also the cover story in the latest issue of its Fleet Solutions magazine, which was distributed to all I&E attendees. The article title: “How Mobility Will Affect Fleet Assets and Driver Autonomy.” Some highlights of the article:
- With the rise of ride-sharing apps, organizations may no longer own or lease the majority of vehicles they utilize, as ride- and car-sharing may be more cost-effective.
- The notion of zero ownership often associated with autonomous vehicles may not be fully realized, especially among service fleets, law enforcement and delivery companies.
- In the future, the FMCs (fleet management companies) will be in competition with car manufacturers who have already created divisions that offer mobility as a service.
- There are legal issues that have yet to be resolved involving ride-sharing, such as potential fleet sponsor liability for injuries suffered by an employee in accident where a ride-sharing company driver is at the wheel.
Mobility the focus at NAFA’s International Fleet Academy
Flansburg’s remarks came the day after NAFA’s preconference International Fleet Academy in Anaheim, where the entire focus of the half-day session was the mobility revolution, broadly defined to include vehicle electrification, autonomy, connectivity, and ride- and vehicle-sharing. The program consisted of five presentations. The topics and speakers provided insights on the nature and scope of the fleet mobility proposition.
The Continuum: Mobility from Infancy to Reality – Darin Walsh, senior manager at GM’s Maven mobility division, and Steve Higgs, GM Fleet and Commercial’s manager for global and North American fleets. Walsh said the mobility revolution is being driven “fast” by global trends toward a population shift to congested cities where parking is expensive, the loss of interest by younger generations in owning and driving a car, consumer preference for connected vehicles and increasing restrictions and even the ban of internal combustion engine in cities and countries.
Walsh cited independent studies projecting that by 2030, 54 percent of the cars sold around the world will be either fully electric or plug-in electric hybrids, and that 50 percent of all cars sold will be highly autonomous. Higgs noted that GM now sells a highly autonomous vehicle – the Cadillac SuperCruise – that can drive from Alaska to Florida without the driver touching the wheel except to stop for refueling or rest breaks.
Higgs said GM is making major investments in providing electrified and autonomous vehicles, as well as creating the means to provide fleets and consumers mobility as a service as well as leased and purchased vehicles.
How “Machine Learning” Will Lead the Future of Fleet Autonomy and Mobility – Steven Choi, senior technical product manager at Uber, the global ride-hailing company. Choi said that autonomous vehicles will rely on artificial intelligence that will enable it to learn from journeys, but also from times when driver is at the wheel, so making sure fleet drivers are safe drivers will remain critical.
Changing Your Language: TCO to TCM (Total Cost of Mobility) – Hans Damen, partner at Fleet 360, a fleet consulting company based in Europe. Damen said that full reliance on mobility can be four to 10 times less expensive than running a leased or owned fleet.
Arming Yourself for the MaaS (Mobility as a Service) Revolution — John Korte, vice president for mobility business development at Donlen, and Stuart Donnelly, senior director for group international sales at Sixt, the global rental car and mobility as a service company. Korte said Donlen is providing services for several ride-hailing and service companies, but that to date demand for mobility services from traditional fleet customers in North America is small, compared to Europe, where there is greater urbanization and more robust public transit. Nevertheless, Donlen is creating programs to help fleets create and support mobility programs.
Donnelly noted that Sixt has successfully launched a mobility as a service application in Europe, with a platform that enables fleet sponsors to manage a flexible, annual mobility budget for every employee on a monthly basis. Employees can allocate their budget as suits their needs and preferences across a wide range of transportation modes, and can even change their type of vehicle every six months.
Fleet Electrification Trends and Practicalities – Dawn Santelli, senior vice president of the international business team at LeasePlan USA, and Berno Kleinherenink, senior vice president at LeasePlan’s global headquarters in the Netherlands. Santelli said LeasePlan has been shifting its own European workforce from fossil fuel-powered vehicles to electric vehicles, with a goal of 100% electrification by 2021.
Kleinherenink said electrification is proceeding at a different pace in different countries, with Norway and the Netherlands leading the way. His company believes, however, that eventually, the internal combustion engine will disappear, and that all fleets will be 100 percent electric, largely because of governments’ goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. LeasePlan, which manages 14,000 customer electric vehicles around the world, continues to expand it electric vehicle leasing program, where customer pricing can include not only the cost of the vehicle but the installation of recharging stations.