January 12, 2021

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Editor’s Analysis & Top Industry News

So, How Was Your 2020?

Last April, FMW interviewed Ruth Alfson, CAFM. She was in a unique situation; just weeks before COVID-19 appeared, Ruth joined the City of Cincinnati as fleet manager. So, in addition to learning the lay of the land as at any new job, she adroitly guided her team to support the City in the wake of the pandemic. Not that we had any doubt that she would succeed; Ruth is highly accomplished. Last week, Donald Dunphy followed up with her and asked the question: “So, how was your 2020?”

When we saw a headline extolling the effectiveness of rear automatic emergency brakes, we wanted to learn more. So this week, senior editor Mike Sheldrick gives us some insight into both front and rear AEBs and the many reasons why we need them. We were also reminded of an article our late, great editor Mark Boada wrote last June: Full Autonomy and Auto Safety: Let’s Not Wait for Perfection When the Excellent is Already Here.

Like many of you, I spend a good deal of time at my desk these days and I welcome productivity hacks. With my mind on working smarter instead of longer, this article from Fast Company popped out at me and I pass it on to you. If you have any good tips that make your cloistered day a little better, please send them along.

Stay safe everybody! I’ve got my heart set on seeing everyone in person at NAFA I&E in beautiful Pittsburgh in August!

Janice Sutton
Editor in Chief

VIDEO: Fuel Delivery Offers Efficiency and Safety

Fuel delivery offers more efficiency, especially when your fleet has hundreds or thousands of vehicles. It offers safety benefits as well – including protecting your drivers from touching dirty gas pump handles.

VIDEO: The Pandemic and Mobility

 The Pandemic is Greatly Accelerating Mobility Patterns

Changes to travel and mobility patterns have accelerated because of the pandemic, and employers worldwide will increasingly be expected to have flexible mobility solutions in place.

Podcast with YOU Here?

 Request for Podcast Interviews

FMW is about to launch our new podcast series, and we’re looking to speak with a variety industry experts (and we know that many of you are reading!).

Please feel free to suggest yourself, or someone you know. Any and all timely industry topics will be considered!

Email Ted Roberts to learn more: [email protected].

The Fleet Spot

Donlen Risk Center Wins 2021 BIG Innovation Award

Donlen announced today its Risk Center is a winner of the 2021 BIG Innovation Awards.

Presented by the Business Intelligence Group, the BIG Innovation Awards recognize organizations, products, and people who bring new ideas to life.

“We are thrilled the Donlen Risk Center is named a winner of the 2021 BIG Innovation Awards,” said Dennis Straight, Donlen chief technology officer. “The Risk Center takes advantage of the vast amounts of data that we create and collect and utilizes AI across that data in an innovative way that helps keep drivers safe. We are proud that it’s being recognized for its industry-first features and capabilities.”


KPMG: Temporary Relief to Value Personal Use of Employer Provided Automobile


The IRS released an advance version of Notice 2021-7 to provide temporary relief for employers using the automobile lease valuation rule to value an employee’s personal use of an employer-provided automobile for purposes of income inclusion, employment tax, and reporting.

The temporary relief is in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Notice 2021-7 [PDF 97 KB] provides that if certain requirements are satisfied, employers and employees that are using the automobile lease valuation rule to determine the value of an employee’s personal use of an employer-provided automobile can instead use the vehicle cents-per-mile valuation rule to determine the value of an employee’s personal use of an employer-provided automobile beginning as of March 13, 2020.

Read the article at KPMG

Merchants Fleet 2021 Outlook

Merchants Fleet Release

By Brendan P. Keegan, Chief Executive Officer

While many will reflect on 2020 as a challenging year, for Merchants 2020 was a year of OPPORTUNITY.

As the nation grappled with a multitude of unknowns, fears, uncertainties, and doubts, Merchants Kept America Moving by providing essential businesses with the vehicles they needed to deliver crucial goods and services to Americans at a time when they needed them most.

Our goals were clear – to ACCELER8 our growth, to ELEV8 our performance and to INNOV8 our service to our clients – and to do it faster and more efficiently than ever!

Read the article at Merchants Fleet

Gas It Up Introduces Gasoline Mobile Fueling to Fleets

By Ed Pierce, Contributing Editor

The benefits of diesel wet hosing, also known as mobile fueling, fleet fueling, or on-site fueling, are well-known by fleet managers that operate large fleets of trucks for their daily operations.

The most significant advantage of wet-hose fueling is the significant potential time and financial savings derived from the elimination of fuel storage on company grounds, more data-driven and responsive decision-making, and increased driver productivity.

Kevin Fisher, vice president of Strategic Fleet Operations, points out that Gas It Up is, at its heart, a technology-based company: “We have an app for the desktop, iPhone, or Android designed expressly for the mobile fueling business. It brings refueling into the future and safely delivers top-quality fuel directly to consumers.


Learning from 2020

By Donald Dunphy, Contributing Editor

So, how was your 2020?

For Ruth Alfson, CAFM, a veteran of the industry and past president of NAFA Fleet Management Association (2015 to 2017), the year came with new opportunities. Early in 2020, she was named fleet manager for the City of Cincinnati. Then the “coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)” pandemic hit. Many organizations faced operational shutdowns. As the hub of multiple essential services, the City of Cincinnati’s fleet needed to keep going.

Fleet Management Weekly caught up with Ms. Alfson to see where operations stand right now, how the fleet persevered through multiple complications and concerns, and what was learned from it all. For Alfson, one of the biggest lessons was perhaps the least complicated: to be flexible.

“You never know when COVID-19 might hit your employees or employees in other departments,” she said. “You have to be flexible with scheduling and working around a diminished staff.”



Reducing Collision Claims

“We haven’t seen that kind of reduction in claims for vehicle and other property damage from any other advanced driver assistance system” ~ HLDI Senior Vice President Matt Moore.

By Mike Sheldrick, Senior Editor

Famously, Americans like to look forward not backward, to liberally paraphrase philosopher George Santayana. So it is no surprise that the Highway Loss Data Institute (HDLI) has just released a report finding that rear automatic emergency braking (AEB) provides the biggest reduction in collision costs. ”

There’s an even bigger reduction for property damage claims for rear AEB: 28 percent vs 14 percent for front AEB.

Rear-to-front collision claims of less than $2,000 — more likely to be fender benders than many front-to-rear collisions — accounted for 17 percent of all collision claims and $8 billion in estimated damage between 2010 and 2017.



Productivity Tips

Fast Company

Juggle email like a pro, type a lot less, maximize your screen real estate, and more

If, like me, you’ve been wandering around the house muttering, “New year, new me” without really being sure what’s going to change, might I suggest you use this year to get more productive?

That does not mean working harder, mind you—especially if you’ll still be working from home for the foreseeable future. It simply means working smarter so you can get more done in less time and, in turn, maintain (or regain) a proper work-life balance.

Take it from me: a lazy but productive homebody who’s been working remotely for years.

Read the article at Fast Company

Fleet Trends & Issues

Car troubles: Chevrolet, Land Rover Have Multiple Models Among Cars More Likely to Report Problems

USA Today

There are many important matters to consider when buying a new car, and something that often gets overlooked is a car’s reliability – or how long it will last before repairs are needed.

To help car buyers identify potentially troublesome cars, product review organization Consumer Reports conducted its latest annual reliability survey. This survey of owners’ experience with approximately 329,000 vehicles was used to determine how likely each model is to have serious problems.

While many different automakers and brands appear on this list, some appear more than others. Notably, Land Rover and Chevrolet have at least five models each with a predicted reliability score of just 1 out of 5.

Read the article at USA Today.

Are We Ready for the Zero-Emission Future?


Globally, it’s not possible that we’ll see 100 percent zero-emission vehicles by 2035, though it’s possible in some regions. There has to be a concerted effort, a true societal commitment.

A 2019 AAA survey found 40 million Americans ready to consider an EV for their next car, but 40 percent also said they don’t expect the majority of vehicles to be electric by 2029.

EVs remain expensive, and leading EV supplier Tesla can no longer offer its customers the federal $7,500 income tax credit (which expires after 200,000 electric vehicles have been sold). Will the Biden administration increase EV subsidies? With a commitment to a clean energy economy by 2050, it will definitely try, but Congress may well balk.

Read the article at MSN.

Leasing vs. Buying a New Car

Consumer Reports

Buying a vehicle with a conventional car loan is pretty straightforward: You borrow money from a bank, credit union, or other lending institution and make monthly payments for some number of years and keep the car. Drive it as much as you want. But, what about leasing?

With a lease, buyers make a monthly payment to drive a new car for a set term. That payment is often less than the monthly cost of financing a new vehicle, but buyers must return the car at the end of the lease term.

Lease contracts specify a limited number of miles. If you go over that limit, you’ll have to pay an excess mileage penalty. If you don’t maintain the vehicle in good condition, you’ll have to pay excess wear-and-tear charges when you turn it in.

Read the article at Consumer Reports.

2021 Free Press Truck of the Year: Ford F-150 Excels With New Features, Creative Details

Detroit Free Press 

Ford continues the rolling reinvention of America’s bestselling vehicle with the 2021 F-150 full-size pickup. For 2021, the big changes are tech under the skin, though a crisp design, creative lighting and can’t miss ‘em grilles ensure nobody will mistake Ford’s new showpiece for last year’s model.

The F-150’s dimensions are nearly unchanged, out of respect for the fact that it’s easier to get a new truck than a bigger garage.

The 2021 F-150 doesn’t skimp on growth in other areas. It’ll be one of the first vehicles — alongside the Mach-E electric SUV — to offer Ford’s new hands-free highway driving system later this year. Standard connectivity for over the air updates will add other new features throughout the F-150’s working life.

Read the article at Detroit Free Press.

The Next Normal

McKinsey & Company

2021 will be the year of transition. Barring any unexpected catastrophes, individuals, businesses, and society can start to look forward to shaping their futures rather than just grinding through the present. The next normal is going to be different.

As consumer confidence returns, so will spending, with “revenge shopping” sweeping through sectors as pent-up demand is unleashed. Services have been particularly hard hit this time. The bounce back will therefore likely emphasize those businesses, particularly the ones that have a communal element, such as restaurants and entertainment venues.

Think of it as “just in time plus.” The “plus” stands for “just in case,” meaning more sophisticated risk management. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed vulnerabilities in the long, complicated supply chains of many companies. When a single country or even a single factory went dark, the lack of critical components shut down production. Never again, executives vowed.

Read the article at McKinsey & Company.


Crash-Free Culture

By Chris Boyd, Chief Product and Technology Officer, eDriving

Not only will 2020 go down in history as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also as the year that almost everything went digital, from business events to social get-togethers!

And, while digital safety programs have been around for some time, more and more elements of driver risk management are shifting to a digital format, including driver training and coaching.

Of course, there will always be a place for in-car training and face-to-face interactions between managers and drivers, but for the foreseeable future, many organizations will be utilizing more and more digital tools to manage driver risk.



Fleet Marketing

The roles of a bicycle derailleur and marketing are comparable. The first aligns front and rear sprocket wheels to deliver the best pedaling results in different terrain. The second aligns company product and service features with buyer needs to deliver more sales.

By Ed Pierce, ITA Communications. Fleet

In the November and December ‘A Call to Action’ columns, I wrote about fleet service providers’ need to focus on storytelling and substantiation in their promotional messaging.

While these keys to marketing success are always valid, they hold even more weight as pandemic disruption puts pressure on companies to cut costs drastically and generate more revenue.


Fleet Management Resources


The Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association. Advancing corporate fleet worldwide.

eDriving partners with its clients to engage with drivers and their managers to create a culture that supports lasting behavioral change to reduce collisions, injuries, license violations as well as a fleet’s total cost of ownership.

SuperVision is a fleet driver management solution for MVR & license monitoring, fleet management, fleet safety oversight and driver performance and retention.

The CEI Group Inc.
CEI is North America’s largest provider of fully integrated fleet accident management, driver safety and risk management services.

NAFA Fleet Management Association
NAFA is the association for the diverse vehicle fleet management profession regardless of organizational type, geographic location, or fleet composition.

WEX fuel cards and fleet management solutions give you powerful tools to reduce spending — for any business, any fleet, any size.

Driving Dynamics
Driving Dynamics was established to help corporate fleet drivers develop expert, safe driving skills using proven, advanced driving techniques.

PARS’ mission is to provide you with high-quality service at competitive prices for all of your transportation needs.

Wheels, Inc.
First in fleet for 80 years. Wheels helps you build tomorrow’s fleet today.

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