January 19, 2021

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Editor’s Analysis & Top Industry News

Planning for the Future

After a year like the last one, planning for the future might seem tricky – but it’s also more important than ever! If you’re like many fleets, one big planning element is cost containment. So you probably already know that your organization can save tens of thousands – even hundreds of thousands of dollars — by sharing vehicles, reducing unneeded vehicles, and automating fleet management processes. That’s what Ed Smith thoughtfully lays out in Want to Make Your Case for Motor Pool? Here’s How.

Succession Planning

Another smart way to plan for the future is to minimize your organization’s brain drain, as Paul Lauria explains in his video interview. Speaking of succession planning, would you be willing to speak, confidentially, with an FMW writer on the subject of succession planning and experience retention? It’s a hot topic these days, and we aim to shed as much light here as we can!

Ted Roberts

VIDEO: The Brain Drain: Engaging in Thoughtful Succession Planning

Fleets around the country are losing a lot of talented people who are founts of institutional knowledge – and that makes thoughtful succession planning more important than ever.

VIDEO: Mobile Maintenance

 Mobile Preventative Maintenace for Fleets

Preventative mobile maintenance for fleets offers full inspections and reduces downtime – and there’s no waiting room, because they come to you.

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: ted@fleetmanagementweekly.com.

The Fleet Spot

Wheels Inc & GM’s OnStar Partner to Extend Vehicle Connectivity Services


Wheels Inc, and GM’s OnStar Business Solutions have announced today they are working together to enable their mutual fleet customers to access a wide array of vehicle information utilizing the OnStar embedded hardware available on most GM Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac brand vehicles in fleets managed by Wheels.

This platform will offer critical insights and opportunities to improve driver behavior and vehicle utilization in areas such as safety, sustainability, productivity, and more.

“As the world becomes more connected, Wheels is committed to helping fleets take advantage of the opportunities this presents,” said Ahsan Rahim, Chief Operating Officer, Wheels Inc. “Our clients can benefit from accessing this data to improve their safety, sustainability, productivity, and overall performance. Joint efforts such as this help ensure we are ready to support the evolution of fleet and mobility.”


Jon Stafford Appointed SVP of LeasePlan USA Corporate Fleet

LeasePlan USA, a global leader in fleet management and driver mobility services, is dedicated to reimagining the fleet experience so it can best help its clients pursue what’s next.

As LeasePlan looks to cultivate even stronger customer relationships, it has built out an exemplary corporate fleet team of industry experts to be led by Jon Stafford.

Newly promoted to senior vice president (SVP) of LeasePlan’s corporate fleet, Stafford will oversee LeasePlan USA’s business development and client success teams, with an emphasis on advancing the company’s customer-first approach that offers organizations an end-to-end fleet management experience.

Chief commercial officer, Ricardo Fonzaghi, said “LeasePlan USA had a strong year of client engagement and growth, part of this success is due to our amazing team and their passion to serve our clients, with that, I am excited to announce the promotion of Jon Stafford, who will lead our corporate fleet business segment.”


Meet the Newly-Formed Fleet Advisory Council at NTEA

NTEA is pleased to announce the newly formed Fleet Advisory Council, composed of forward-thinking fleet leaders who will provide perspective and guidance on Association resources for the work truck community.

The Council will offer insight on how NTEA’s efforts in key areas resonate with fleets, including
• Educational programming
• Vehicle optimization and design
• Regulatory compliance
• Risk management
• Alternative fuels
• Electrification and technology applications

Meet the Council Members

City of Cincinnati Fleet Manager Ruth Alfson, CAFM, Details 2020 Action Plans and Takeaways

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.


Vehicle Sharing and Motor Pools

By Ed Smith, President, Agile Fleet

If you are reading this you probably already know that your organization can save tens of thousands – even hundreds of thousands of dollars — by sharing vehicles, reducing unneeded vehicles, and automating fleet management processes.

You know that by automating things like vehicle reservations, dispatching, and billing and reporting, your organization can experience incredible time savings (for fleet managers) and convenience (for users of the fleet.) We’ve seen our customers do all these and more.

And in a COVID-19 environment, it’s even more crucial to reduce costs. Budgets are getting cut everywhere. The single most effective way to reduce fleet costs is to reduce unneeded vehicles and share them efficiently. Sharing vehicles allows organizations to revise budgets to eliminate monthly fixed costs for unused vehicles sitting in a parking lot. You can also eliminate replacement costs for unused vehicles, and reduce costs for things such as maintenance, insurance, depreciation, parking, and staff time to manage them, and more.

But if you are just starting to plan your vehicle sharing program, how do you effectively communicate your plan to others? If you are faced with the task of ‘selling” the idea to upper management and other stakeholders, here’s some help from our experts to get the job done–successfully.



5G and Fleets

For decades, hybrid computer/car enthusiasts have declared that the car is nothing but a computer on wheels, and predicted the imminent arrival of futuristic features and functions. Autonomous driving perhaps the most exciting of all.

By Kenneth Sheldrick, FMW

The idea of catching up on paperwork, relaxing, taking a nap, or watching a movie during the daily commute does have a good deal of allure to many.

Now, the advent of 5G has breathed new life into these dreams. Moreover, in addition to all these futuristic possibilities, some observers believe that the car itself will change dramatically. According to Axios, Some have predicted that the car will no longer depreciate when driven off the dealer’s lot, but will gain value thanks to cloud-based software enhancements, for instance.



The Fleet Brain Drain

One of the topics that frequently arises in our conversations with fleet professionals is succession planning as a generation of fleet leaders look ahead to retirement.

We plan to write an article about the best practices for averting “brain drain” within the fleet industry. If you have some thoughts on this topic, we would like to hear from you. We have just two questions:

Q #1: Are you a fleet professional who intends to leave the industry in the next five years?

Q #2 Would you be willing to speak, confidentially, with an FMW writer on the subject of succession planning and experience retention?

If you answered “yes” to the second question, please contact Janice Sutton to arrange a date and time to talk.

We realize this may be sensitive information so no names or affiliations will be disclosed in the published article.

Fleet Trends & Issues

Speed, Alcohol, and Drugs Increase U.S. Traffic Fatality Rate

J.D. Power

New preliminary data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that as Americans traveled fewer miles due to the pandemic, fatality rates increased.

Overall, during the first nine months of 2020, deaths rose 4.6% despite a 14.5% drop in vehicle miles traveled. During the third quarter of 2020, after states lifted coronavirus lockdowns, the death rate rose 13.1% compared to the same period in 2019.

Drivers may believe that lax law enforcement allows for riskier driving behavior. Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, told the Associated Press: “A big factor here is the lack of enforcement. We are hearing from many states that traffic stops have declined during COVID-19. Drivers feel like they can speed and get away with it,” he said.

Read the article at J.D. Power.

GM Launches BrightDrop Company to Make Electric Delivery Vehicles

Car and Driver

GM unveiled a new business venture, BrightDrop. The company’s plan is to create an ecosystem of electric products to be used as delivery vehicles and “last mile” delivery solutions for commercial customers.

The new company will produce multiple vehicles, starting with the EP1, an electric pallet that looks like an oversize library cart with doors. GM envisions the vehicle will help deliver packages from a vehicle to a customer. The electric box on wheels rolls at up to 3 mph while being directed by a courier and can carry up to 200 pounds.

According to GM trials conducted with partner FedEx Express, the EP1 can help deliver 25 percent more packages a day than a delivery driver alone. According to the two companies, couriers said the EP1 was easy to maneuver and reduces strain.

Read the article at Car and Driver.

Screens in Cars are Getting Even Bigger? Is it Safe?

USA Today

Gone are the days of playing-card-sized screens causing drivers and passengers to squint their eyes at low-resolution text and poorly designed graphics.

German automaker Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz revealed a new 56-inch screen nearly spanning the width of an entire car earlier this month, becoming the latest brand to bet on larger-than-ever digital displays.

“There are already some studies that indicate significant driver distraction can be a result of in-dashboard screens,” Jason K. Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, said in an email. “The question is, by making them bigger, wider and more integrated with the vehicle, does this make an existing problem worse?”

Read the article at USA Today.

The Age Of The Digital Car Key Is Finally Upon Us


The idea of using your phone or smartwatch as a car key has been kicking around for a while, and some of the more expensive vehicles are already outfitted to let you do it. Up until recently, the necessary software wasn’t even prebuilt into devices, meaning you’d need a third-party app to lock and unlock your car.

That’s all changing though. At Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference last summer, it introduced a new Car Keys protocol that embedded the feature into iOS’ Wallet app, the same place your credit cards are stored. However, to date the company has partnered only with BMW to roll it out.

Samsung unveiled its new Galaxy S21 range of smartphones, and, like Apple, it’s also baking digital key hardware and software right into its phones. Unlike Apple, the Korean tech giant has announced collaborations with Ford, Genesis and Audi, as well as BMW, to bring the feature to more makes and models “in the near future.”

Read the article at Jalopnik.

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems

International Fleet World

Training fleet drivers at vehicle handover could ensure that advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are used correctly, making them a road safety benefit and not a potential hazard.

Awareness and understanding of these systems is generally low among drivers – and most do not receive any training. Instead, drivers turn to the user manual and apply a ‘trial-and-error’ method. And IAM RoadSmart says this could have potentially worrying consequences for all road users.

“Lease companies and fleet managers should also ensure that the new features on the cars they give to staff are fully understood,” said Neil Greig, director of policy & research. “Driver training companies can provide a more comprehensive back up but it is important that drivers know about assistance system from the moment they start their first journey and that is best done at handover.”

Read the article at International Fleet World.


Reducing COVID-19 Risk


By now, we all know the basic coronavirus rules. Wear a mask, limit your exposure to other people and when you can’t, keep your distance, and … keep wearing your mask. But what we haven’t known is whether we should keep the car windows up or down.

A new study from Brown University seeks to answer that question. Using complex computational fluid dynamic simulations, Varghese Mathai, Asimanshu Das, Jeffrey Bailey and Kenneth Breuer studied how the aerosols that we breath (some of which do escape even properly worn masks) move about a car’s cabin and how those flows change with various windows up and down.

The details of the study are worth noting. The team of researchers found that opening the windows opposite of each occupant can create a flow that drastically reduces the collection of aerosols in a car’s cabin. They also found that opening the windows even halfway can be very helpful but that just cracking them a bit doesn’t generate enough airflow.

Read the article at Autoblog.


Here Comes Stellantis


Another milestone in the tumultuous history of the company originally known as just Chrysler: On Saturday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA Group will merge to create Stellantis, the fourth-largest automaker in the world by volume. 

It is the oldest, truly heritage, brands, that are most vulnerable: Chrysler and Dodge. Then there are the Italian brands: Alfa Romeo, Fiat, and Maserati that have failed to meet lofty expectations in North America.

There will be repercussions. Stellantis will start life with seven FCA brands and another four from PSA. That seems unmanageable. Every merger creates duplication and results in the death of products, brands, positions, plants, and plans. PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares, who becomes CEO of Stellantis, has a history of turning brands and companies around with tough cost targets and the discipline to axe where necessary.

Read the article at MotorTrend.

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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How mobility is rapidly changing the fleet management landscape.


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