February 9, 2021

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Editor’s Analysis & Top Industry News

Where Do We Go from Here?

After being engulfed in a year-long pandemic – precious lives lost and every one of us affected to an extent we could not have imagined at its outset, we see a ray of hope. Vaccines are finally making their way into arms, and it feels a lot like we can look ahead a bit less tentatively.

Where do we go from here? When we asked that question of fleet expert Steve Saltzgiver, he gave us a brilliant and thorough treatise on the steps organizations can take to optimize their fleet operations. We like this: “A wise manager understands that their most important resource is the people that perform the work.”

Now, what about the people who have been displaced? Fleet veterans who have chosen to retire or who have been sidelined involuntarily because of the virus? How do we recover? Look for some answers in Donald Dunphy’s Tackling Brain Drain: Tips from a Recent Fleet Retiree.

Mike Sheldrick and I spent some delightful weeks in Norway in 2017 and marveled at the abundance of EV charging stations. He was highly amused by GM’s cute Super Bowl ad.

Stay Safe Everyone!

Janice Sutton
Editor in Chief

VIDEO: NAFA Goes Virtual

As an organization, NAFA has gone entirely virtual, which is better for member services and for overall efficiency.

VIDEO: Fleet Maintenance

 Maintenance Issues Compounded by Not Servicing Vehicles During the Pandemic

A lot of people are driving less during the pandemic, and that’s leading to a lot of easily overlooked maintenance issues with their vehicles.

PODCAST: Smart Marketing

 The Six-Step B2B Marketing Audit

A B2B Sales-Support Marketing Audit can help rebuild your program to achieve growth
while ensuring a much higher degree of resource efficiency – dollars and human.It can also uncover opportunities to further accelerate sales and marketing results and take a business to the next level.

The Fleet Spot

Happy Anniversary, eDriving!

Celebrating 25 Years of Digital Driver Risk Management

Having started out with just seven employees in Huddersfield, United Kingdom, in 1996, today eDriving employs over 120 “wizards” in nine offices around the world, helping organizations to successfully manage the risks associated with driving for work purposes.

To mark its Silver Jubilee, eDriving is proudly sharing some of its many milestones as it has helped shape the digitalization of driver risk management over the last quarter-century.


Expert Explains How to Reduce the Risk of COVID-19 Transmission in a Car

Fast Company

Varghese Mathai is a physicist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst who conducted a study using computational fluid dynamics simulations to understand how air flows inside a car and its implications for COVID-19 airborne transmission.

In this interview, he explains the optimal ways to ensure maximum airflow inside a car and what can be done to reduce the risk of airborne transmission.

“It’s important to have good ventilation. This means you get as much outside air as possible to mix with the air inside the cabin and then flush it out,” says Mathai. ”You can do this in a couple of ways. One is by turning on the heating system, which takes in fresh air from outside, and opening windows through which it can be flushed out.

Read the article at Fast Company.

GM Secures Big Order for New BrightDrop Commercial EV

The Detroit Bureau

General Motors has lined up a major new customer for its new, all-electric commercial van and reiterated its support to Lordstown Motors, the Ohio EV maker preparing to launch a new electric pickup truck.

New Hampshire-based Merchants Fleet said it plans to further electrify its portfolio with 12,600 new commercial vehicles from BrightDrop, the fledgling business backed by General Motors.

The EV600 is powered by GM’s Ultium battery system that it’s producing in concert with South Korea’s LG Chem. The vans will be built at the GM CAMI assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, and Merchants Fleet expects the BrightDrop EV600s to enter its clients’ fleets starting in early 2023.

Read the article at The Detroit Bureau.

Here’s One Simple Tip for Faster, Safer Winter Driving

Popular Mechanics

Ready for the one genius tip that will make you a better winter driver? Here it is: Look where you want to go.

Yep—that’s it. It’s so simple, and so effective, that every pro driver does it. But it’s so unintuitive that you have to practice to get it right.

When the most urgent threat to your bodily safety and insurance premium is the car ahead of you or a guardrail, you watch that thing. But when you’re at speed, you involuntarily direct yourself towards wherever you’re focused. It’s formally known as target fixation, a term you’ll see in literature for fighter pilots and motorcycle racers.

Read the article at Popular Mechanics.

Where to Go from Here?

By Steve Saltzgiver, Director of Strategic Innovation, RTA Fleet Management Software

This past year we have been mired in a global pandemic that placed unforeseen restrictions — which included a myriad of new safety and cleanliness standards – on fleet operations that may forever change the way a fleet runs.

However, most managers already had sound cleaning practices in place, and with a few enhancements required by regulators, the changes were relatively quick to implement.

That said, a longtime colleague asked me what I thought we should do after experiencing such a catastrophic year in 2020. So, where do we go from here? What questions should be asked?

First, we need to continue to recognize that we are starting 2021 with the pandemic restrictions still in place while those vulnerable to the virus are vaccinated. Only then can we truly resume some sense of normalcy. Next, my response to the question is simple, as I believe each fleet manager just needs to refocus their efforts on basic blocking and tackling. Simply put, get back to executing known best practices required for operating a fleet of vehicles.



Tackling Loss of Fleet Knowledge

By Donald Dunphy, Contributing Editor

Recently, FMW put out a poll to fleet professionals who either have left the profession or plan to do so in the next five years.

We wanted to know what employers were doing to stem the loss of the knowledge “brain drain” within this decade.

The problem was already a concern, but with COVID-19 still leaving a heavy mark globally on business, operations are finding their ten-year-plans are coming ahead of schedule. Aside from lost jobs, some employees may find they cannot return to the work they once did. Others are moving ahead with earlier retirement.

Are organizations capturing the knowledge they need to continue fleet operations without unforced errors?



Electric Vehicles

By Mike Sheldrick, Senior Editor

GM returned to Super Bowl ads for the first time since the Great Recession with a pair of expensive 1:30 minute ads: Teen heartthrob Timothèe Chalamet demonstrated Cadillac Lyriq’s hands-free capabilities.

In his skit, Will Ferrell receives assistance from fellow comedians Keenan Thompson and Awkwafina. He’s outraged that Norwegians –the Norwegians! — “sell way more electric cars per capita than Americans.” Indeed.

Last year, more than 54% of cars sold there were EVs and another 20% were PHEVs. In the U.S., EVs and PHEVs rack up less than a measly 2% of sales with the majority of those accounted for by Tesla.

In any case, skeptics will note that catching up with the Norwegians, never mind crushing them by 2035 will take much more than a better battery that sports higher mileage, lower cobalt content, greater safety in crashes, and higher recycle value.


Fleet Trends & Issues

NHTSA Has a Lot of Catch-Up Ahead


NHTSA’s important regulatory oversight work stalled for four years with no director at the helm. Now, the Biden administration has a backlog of neglected tasks to dig through.

The lack of oversight on autonomous driving is perhaps the biggest oversight with Level 2 autonomy being the biggest safety challenge. The NHTSA has been pretty much hands-off when it comes to driver-assistance systems, specifically when it comes to Tesla’s misleadingly named Autopilot.

The inaction of NHTSA drew ire from another federal safety agency, the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB – which is most known for its investigations of plane and train incidents – blamed predictable abuse for a 2018 crash where a Tesla Model X crashed into a concrete divider.

Read the article at Jalopnik.

Ford, Google Deal Means Car Tech Upgrades for Drivers: Google Apps in the Vehicle

USA Today

Google Cloud has been named Ford’s provider for data, artificial intelligence and machine learning management. Millions of vehicles will be powered by Android with Google apps and services built in.

Team Upshift has been created to “drive the ongoing innovation” and “push the boundaries of Ford’s transformation, unlock personalized consumer experiences, and drive disruptive, data-driven opportunities.”

Ford and Lincoln drivers will have access to voice technology, like Google Assistant, allowing them to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel while multitasking. And Google Maps offers information on real-time traffic, automatic rerouting and lane guidance. With Google Play, drivers may access apps for listening to personalized music, podcasts and audiobooks in the vehicle.

Read the article at USA Today.

Amazon is Testing Rivian Electric Delivery Vans in Los Angeles


Amazon is testing some of the electric delivery vans that it developed with Rivian Automotive on routes in Los Angeles and says it will test the custom electric vehicles in as many as 16 different cities in 2021.

In September 2019, Amazon announced it would purchase 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from Rivian as part of its aim to achieve net zero carbon emissions across its operations by 2040.

Light-duty trucks including delivery vans are expected to be in demand in the U.S. in coming years, and not just by Amazon. That’s in part because President Biden, through his Buy America plan, has committed to replace the federal government’s fleet of internal combustion engine vehicles with cleaner, quieter electrics.

Read the article at CNBC.

How the US Plans to Capture the EV Battery Market


In his short tenure so far, President Biden has made a dynamic effort in policies concerning clean energy and climate change calling for hefty investments in federal R&D. The goal is to purchase and implement key clean energy inputs like batteries, with the goal of positioning the US as the world’s clean energy leader.

The main focus on the push toward battery manufacturing in the US is countering the country’s current reliance on China. This includes EV battery startups in the public sector and established manufacturers in the private sector.

The US-based battery manufacturers as a whole must work toward creative innovation and material alternatives in order to have a fighting chance. It will be the US’ focus on battery capacity, a shortened supply chain, and innovate alternatives to battery materials that will help gain a foothold in the market.

Read the article at Electrek.

Monitoring Amazon Drivers

The Drive

Amazon plans to install always-on surveillance systems in its delivery vehicles which will monitor and record drivers’ behavior as well as what’s going on around the vehicle.

The system is called Driveri – pronounced “driver eye” – made by Californian company Netradyne. It uses artificial intelligence to analyze camera and sensor data and flag potentially dangerous situations. Amazon’s stated goals are to reduce collisions and encourage safer driver behavior when making deliveries.

Driveri uses four high-definition cameras and artificial intelligence to flag problems while driving, uploading its footage to Amazon’s servers for a safety team at the company to review. A driver can also manually upload footage at the press of a button in case of a dangerous situation or possible dispute, such as an inaccessible delivery location or prove that an incident wasn’t the driver’s fault.

Read the article at The Drive.


Crash-Free Culture

By Teri Snow, CSP, CEO of Snow Advisory, LLC and eDriving’s EHS&S “Guru”

Occupational health and safety has come a long way.

There once was a time when workplaces did not have any sanitation standards. Now, we not only regulate unseen toxins but we are also better prepared to fight unseen hazards to our health like COVID-19.

Workplace safety has evolved and will continue to evolve over time. As many businesses struggle to keep up with the ever-changing requirements to protect against the pandemic there is also a need to maintain focus on addressing the organization’s Health and Safety Compliance Obligations.

Ever heard the term “Never Let a Good Crisis go to Waste”?



Fleet Marketing

The pandemic has sped the need for fleet service providers to find more effective means of winning and keeping business in a digital business world. Account-based marketing moves beyond disparate lead generation, sales, customer service, and account management programs to deliver a winning strategy for the entire customer relationship journey.

By Ed Pierce, ITA Communications. Fleet

The steady pace towards digital marketing experiences for fleet service providers has become a raging torrent thanks to the COVID pandemic. For almost a year, relationships — including sales, customer service, and account management — have come to rely on digital communication whether they wanted to or not.

Suddenly, B2B organizations wishing to keep up with buyers, proactively support rapidly-changing business conditions, and stay competitive must shift from a lead-centric mentality to an account-centric mentality in order to win and nurture high-value accounts.


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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