Top fleet trends for fleet owners in 2021

V3 Smart Technologies Pte Ltd.

Last year was a challenging year for many industries, with the fleet industry being heavily impacted. However, it also helped accelerate digitisation and the adoption of fleet tracking and vehicle telematics by businesses worldwide. Fortunately for this year, with the vaccines rolling out, a rebound is forecasted in the automotive market, alongside new technologies and happenings which will help the fleet industry bounce back.

As you plan for your fleet’s success in 2021, here are the upcoming industry changes and noteworthy fleet tech trends to keep track of.

1. Fleet tracking & telematics

During the 2020 pandemic, we saw an increase in fleet tracking and telematics technology adoption as fleet owners sought more efficient ways to remotely manage their vehicles.

  • Fleet tracking:

Many fleet owners found fleet tracking beneficial, with ROI on the tech investment being positive and customer service showing improved KPIs. Fleet tracking is also noted to be helpful in monitoring daily operating costs during the Covid crisis, and to decrease fuel, accident and labour costs.

  • Fleet & video telematics:

Besides fleet tracking, many drivers found video telematics useful, such as in-cab cameras for video monitoring of fleet safety. Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) also aided with monitoring driver behaviour, along with AI assisted cameras which helped with accident prevention.

With the proven effectiveness of real-time fleet visibility, we will likely continue to see more businesses looking to invest in and continue using remote fleet management solutions. So, if you have not yet adopted fleet tracking and telematics, it is recommended to take advantage of this low investment, high ROI technology now to stay ahead of competition.

2. Data connectivity

While big data and fleet telematics are not exactly new, IoT, blockchain as well as the 5G network are technologies which will speed up data connectivity, and therefore, speed up communications between fleet managers and their drivers.

  • IoT:

IoT connected cars of today can provide us with real-time traffic and location data, engine diagnostics, driver activity, and be connected to applications on our smartphones. This trend will continue to rise, with cars being able to connect to other cars, OEMs, and smart cities as digitisation accelerates in the automotive industry.

  • 5G:

With 5G coming soon, data transmission will be even faster (5G can be 100 times faster than 4G), meaning increased connectivity between drivers and fleet managers. Riding on the 5G network, real-time alerts will be faster and network coverage wider.

  • Blockchain:

Demand for personalised in-vehicle user experience is growing and blockchain can offer the necessary level of security for managing vehicle data, driver preferences and personal transactions. Blockchain timestamps the data and can only be accessed by authorised users according to agreed upon rules, and enables data to transfer securely across the blockchain network. This creates a reliable way for drivers to transfer their personal vehicle data from car to car, managing micropayments, and for calculating insurance rates according to recorded mileage and driver behaviour. 

All of this mean a huge productivity boost for fleets equipped with fleet management technologies. This is especially so for many fleet owners who are currently benefiting from a centralised data system where they can measure fleet performance, monitor fuel expenses, and improve planning. Hence, if you have not yet jumped on the bandwagon of investing in fleet management technology, it is wise to do so as soon as possible, so you can familiarise yourself with new technologies quickly and benefit from the productivity boost early on.

3. Usage-based car insurance

Come 2021, we will see usage-based car insurance join the automotive market. Thanks to the advancement of fleet telematics, we are able to learn more about driving behaviour, such as driving patterns to assess driving risks. By tracking and logging vehicle speeding, harsh braking, and other dangerous driving patterns, car insurance providers can make use of such gathered data to offer personalised car insurance packages. This includes cheaper car insurance packages for safe drivers or drivers who do not drive often, and increased pricing for reckless drivers.

For fleet owners, you can track driving behaviour using fleet telematics to improve driver performance, so as to benefit from the new usage-based insurance system.

4. Predictive maintenance

This year, maintenance and unscheduled repair costs for vehicles is forecasted to rise as business resumes. If your fleet utilisation rate is on the rise, you will need to adjust your maintenance scheduling intervals. Or, if your vehicles will be in service for a longer period of time, it is recommended to check your maintenance strategy and budget plan.

Using fleet management software, you can track routine fleet maintenance and plan in advance to prevent vehicle downtime and avoid incurring even heftier maintenance costs.

5. Electric vehicles

While the reality of having an all-electric fleet will not happen in 2021 due to challenges such as charging solutions, high pricing of EVs and issues with battery life, businesses can start planning for one in the long-term. This is because EVs are forecasted to have cheaper pricing compared to gasoline powered vehicles, and can also save you a lot more fuel per mile. Globally, the interest in EVs is rising as these cars are considered the better alternative for energy efficiency. Due to the rising demand, EV technology is set to develop faster, but it will likely take some time before EVs can be produced affordably at scale, presumably over the next few decades.

6. Autonomous vehicles

The road to AI assisted, self-driving cars is still being implemented and will not be happening anytime soon unfortunately, due to safety concerns and regulations. However, this is something to keep an eye on, as the introduction of AVs will be a huge game changer for fleet owners everywhere. With AVs, we can expect a huge labour productivity boost and fleet managers will not have to worry about the shortage of drivers and running long driving hours.

While we may not be seeing driverless cars on the road in the near future, driver assistance systems are becoming more common in cars. And with technology making driverless cars a reality, the future is headed towards automated transport, which will make daily commute a lot easier for consumers and as mentioned, improve productivity for commercial fleet operators.

Other fleet trends and the future of the fleet industry

Apart from the above fleet trends, there are a couple more interesting trends happening in the fleet industry. Namely, there is a shift towards complete online transactions in the automotive market (due to Covid lockdowns vehicle sales has switched to online platforms instead of in-person dealership stores), whereas in the shared mobility sector, more customers are getting interested in subscription services for car sharing or shuttle services, which sets the sector to grow once the pandemic situation has passed. Overall, the fleet industry is steadily rolling on its way towards digitisation, connected cars in smart cities, and automated, energy-efficient transport.

With the fleet industry forecasted to rebound and benefit immensely from the above-mentioned technologies, 2021 is a good year to look at your fleet management strategies and invest in fleet tech if you have not already done so.