From the Ukraine war, through to semiconductor shortages, post-pandemic challenges and the energy crisis, 2022 was undoubtedly tumultuous for fleets. Natalie Middleton asks the industry gurus for their thoughts on the year ahead and the challenges and opportunities for vehicle operators.
Autonomous driving and connected vehicles will continue advent
Bertrand Boisseau, automotive sector lead at Canonical
“In 2023, we will see specific trends regarding technology all across the automotive industry. The digital transformation will continue, especially in how customers buy vehicles. There will be more online buying, and vehicle maintenance will rely more on predictive maintenance solutions coming of age.
“Vehicles will continue to gain connectivity features and services with over-the-air (OTA) updates. As 5G deploys, cars will see 5G modems included, with some leveraging the mmWave technology. mmWave allows for faster speeds and more bandwidth, which could be used for V2X use cases. With more connectivity, vehicles will continue to become an extension of our homes. Video conference calls will be more present as well as other key applications. Regarding infotainment, we’ll probably see more augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications included in the user experience.”
Government support for EV switch will remain crucial
Ashley Barnett, head of fleet consultancy at Lex Autolease
“2022 has been another challenging year for the new car market with materials shortages, supply chain disruption and price increases all having an effect, while we continue work towards the ambitious targets for no new ICE vehicles by 2030
“With just over one full fleet replacement cycle before 2030, we hope to see continued commitment from Government in enabling the UK’s transition to zero-emission vehicles with a focus on infrastructure and access to cleaner vehicles for all to help clean up the UK’s roads.”
Fleet charging solutions will present challenges
Jon Lawes, managing director, Novuna Vehicle Solutions
“The biggest challenge is for businesses to build and establish a charging infrastructure that can support both domestic and commercial EVs. As a trusted total assets solutions mobility partner, we’re focused on pioneering charging solutions using solar, wireless and socketed solutions, managed by back-office software that uses national grid data, charge point operator data and tariff energy certifications, to deliver the data that businesses need to accurately report and track their carbon consumption.
“The long-term solution to help fleets pursue a decarbonisation strategy with confidence stems from boosting both vehicle supply and the capacity of the charge point network to meet demand.”
Home charging to become ever more vital
Kim Royds, EV director at British Gas
“As the demand for EVs intensifies, so does the stress on the charging network. With the 2030 ICE ban deadline looming large, expanding the UK’s charging infrastructure should be top of the industry and government’s New Year’s resolution list. The rollout of at-home charging technology will play an increasingly important role in supplementing the network of public charge points – allowing Brits to charge more efficiently wherever they park their car.”
Need for fairer EV insurance premiums
Andrew Leech, MD and founder of Fleet Evolution
“Since their inception, electric vehicles have had much higher premiums than ICE equivalents, but this is outdated based on real life experiences. We have seen insurance rates increase by up to 300% for electric cars while, at the same time, we have seen a 40% reduction in EV accident rates on our own fleet over the last two years.
“The two things simply don’t add up. There is little doubt in our minds that these current unrealistic and excessive insurance rates are acting as a barrier to wider EV uptake. We’d like to see fairer rates for 2023.”
Smart charging and accessibility vital
Lauren Pamma, programme director at the Coalition for the Decarbonisation of Road Transport (CDRT)
“In 2023, smart charging will become more important than ever before to not only balance peak grid but drive down prices. This, alongside the REMA (Review of Electricity Market Arrangements) consultation, would see electricity prices fall this year.
“Local Authorities are also set to have a large injection of finance early this year through the launch of the LEVI fund, to deliver significant charging infrastructure investment and deployment. When public funding for charging infrastructure comes to an end, we will need to see private sector investment increase to continue the roll-out of charging infrastructure.
“Accessibility will also remain a key area of focus for the industry, particularly charge point operators.”
New risk management factors to bring challenges
Damian Penney, VP EMEA at Lytx
“Fleets need to make sure they are being proactive, by identifying new factors that contribute to risk and consider how these may affect driver behaviour. This includes looking at new vehicles for example, which can pose a greater risk for the first few weeks as drivers become accustomed to new beeps, new routes and new systems.
“Electric vehicles are becoming a greater focus for fleet managers. With the global market for electric commercial vehicles projected to reach over two million units by 2028, fleets need to be mindful of how concerns over ‘range anxiety’ and the ability to find a charging point may affect a driver’s concentration.
EVs to move from ‘passion purchase to a practical purchase’
Chris Pateman-Jones, CEO, Connected Kerb
“As cheaper and cheaper [electric] cars become available in 2023, the market will shift from being policy-driven to consumer-led, moving from a passion purchase to a practical purchase – particularly for those with access to charging either at home or nearby reliable public charging.
“In the context of the cost-of-living crisis, charging costs will be a hot topic. There is a great deal of pressure on government from industry and drivers to reduce public charge point VAT to 5% to bring it in line with home charging. Another trend to watch will be the introduction of smart charging into public charge points, offering drivers time of use energy tariffs regardless of whether they charge at home or not.”
Fleet cost pressures to continue into 2023
Penny Stoolman, managing director, Prestige Fleet Servicing
“Grey fleet maintenance avoidance coupled with rising vehicle age is creating the perfect storm for businesses in 2023.
“Ensuring that grey fleet vehicles are roadworthy and have been recently serviced will help businesses reduce the risk of VOR in 2023. Employers should keep track of the vehicles used by employees for business travel, collating records to ensure compliance in the following areas: insurance details, including proof of business cover; vehicle maintenance checks; road tax validity; and evidence of recent servicing.”
Deliveries to go more sustainable still
Danny Hudson, director of UK & Europe at FarEye
“Consumers are increasingly demanding more sustainable options for their e-commerce deliveries and this sentiment will only strengthen in 2023. Accenture found that 43% of consumers are more likely to choose retailers that offer more sustainable delivery options. Our own research confirms that 56% of consumers are interested in seeing the carbon emission impact of their deliveries. Consumers want to see the impact of their deliveries and be able to make choices about their deliveries.”
“Therefore, companies in 2023 will ensure they have more sustainable delivery options available for the consumer at the checkout, providing visibility on the consequences of their delivery choices on the environment.”
E-bikes for commercial use will continue to rise
Lisa Conibear, global commercial director at Zoomo
“Light electric vehicles (LEVs) are at the core of safer, more sustainable cities and they will really come into their own in the coming year.
“E-bikes for commercial use will continue to rise and new sectors will realise the benefit.
“We will continue to see companies move towards e-bikes and cargo bikes for commercial purposes.”
17 fleet experts outline their New Year’s resolutions for 2023
Paul Hollick, chair, Association of Fleet Professionals
“2023 is likely to be a tough year and our objective is to support our members through whatever it brings.
“We’ve already made some concrete steps in this direction by freezing our membership and training fees but we’re also able to help them handle a whole range of difficult challenges they are currently facing – from managing the process of electrification to minimising expenditure in the face of recession – by providing everything from courses to webinars to simple, face-to-face best practice advice.”
Alfonso Martinez, LeasePlan UK MD
“2023 will be a milestone year for us as it marks 60 years of LeasePlan.
“From our beginnings as a Dutch leasing company, we’ve gone on to become one of the leading global voices for the EV revolution, helping thousands of drivers across the world experience their first electric moment.
“This year, we are committed to helping even more fleets start their transition to electric, and advocating for an affordable, simpler and more intuitive EV experience for everyone. “
David Savage, vice president for UK & Ireland at Geotab
“In 2023 we will continue to invest in our people, our solution offering and to support our ecosystem in using data for good.
“By unlocking data insights, we will continue to help our ecosystem address any challenges they may face next year (known and unknown) be they related to productivity, safety, compliance or sustainability.”
Rory Mackinnon, sales director at Holman
“For our ‘New Year’s resolution’ we will be ensuring our customers can keep their ageing fleets on the road through a more proactive data-driven maintenance offering, reducing the unplanned events and turning them into planned bookings.
“This will see our customers weather the supply chain storm and maximise the investment in their fleet.”
Peter McDonald, mobility director, Ohme
“My New Year’s resolution has to be making EV charging easier for fleet drivers and fleet managers. There are lots of headaches for drivers incurring higher energy costs and higher BiK as the price of vehicles has also increased.
“With a resolution of making charging easier, whether the fleet wants to buy through the leasing company, wants to buy directly from us or have the drivers pay individually, we need to make it our mission to simplify the steps to purchasing an EV charger.”
Karl Howkins, managing director of Sogo
“Fleet managers are facing a tough 2023 with high fuel prices, rising business costs and concerns about a worldwide recession shaping decisions. To help businesses navigate these challenges, SOGO is resolved to provide a flexible solution that enables companies only to lease the vehicles they need when they require them.
“We believe it’s an approach that makes a significant difference to every customer’s bottom line and supports the drive to net zero. In addition, for those businesses that can’t move to EVs yet, our carbon offset programme covers every mile in every vehicle.”
Caroline Sandall-Mansergh, consultancy and channels development manager, Alphabet GB
“Alphabet will be continuing to scale up support for small-medium fleets. Managing fleets of this size is challenging and often a secondary job on top of existing roles within the business, limiting the ability to address changing needs. Investing time and resources into fleets is particularly important in today’s market where legislation, taxation, supply chain issues, and EV developments are constantly evolving, and as a result, fleet requirements are too.
“By diversifying our strategy, we are providing our wide range of products, services and consultancy to meet the unique mobility needs of both SMEs and large organisations with smaller fleets.”
Andy Bruce, Fleet Alliance CEO
“If I had one wish for 2023, it would be that more employees would have access to electric cars through salary sacrifice which is not only good for the planet, but also for the pockets of employees thanks to the savings they generate.
“My other resolution will be to continue our financial commitment to social and community issues through our Fleet Alliance Loves programme which has raised £700,000 for worthy causes since 2008, with £40,000 raised in 2022 alone.”
Niall Riddell, CEO of Paua
“At Paua we are building an electric fuel card for the future of fleet electrification. And our fleet customers want the largest possible roaming network.
“My resolution is to hit the 80% coverage status of EV charging for the UK in 2023, enable access to Europe, and provide solutions for home charging. Fraud effects 5-10% of all transactions on a conventional fuel card so we will introduce solutions for this in 2023. In addition, we will launch ‘in-car’ capabilities for enhanced safety whilst finding chargers.”
Peter Golding, managing director, FleetCheck
“Our view is that 2023 is going to be all about controlling costs during difficult economic times, so helping our clients through that process is very much going to be our focus.
“It’s about collecting the right information and using it to create strategies that extract maximum value from fleet expenditure. Of course, this needs to happen while many businesses continue the shift to EVs, so there are massive demand being made on decision-makers. We see our role as providing the tools and the support they need.”
Nick Chadaway, managing director at DMN Logistics
“We see 2023 as the year of the EV, and we plan to continue to develop EV champions within our delivery drivers to enhance fleet handover experience and support clients transition their fleets.
“We will focus on improved driver safety; integrate AI tech to support our clients’ EV fleet delivery programme; improve our onsite charging facilities for both our fleet drivers and our clients’ vehicles and most importantly, continue our path to a 100% EV fleet.”
Paul McCorkell, director of business rental UK & Ireland at Enterprise
“Fleets can focus on saving costs and emissions by forward-planning their mobility needs – specifically the grey fleet.
“Apart from the risk that higher costs are leading to less service, maintenance and repair (SMR) on these privately owned vehicles, they’re usually older and more polluting. Consequently, I’d like to see more organisations prioritising grey fleet drivers in 2023 by providing them with alternative, cost-effective and lower-emission modes of mobility that meet their needs and are conveniently located to where they live and work.”
Jason Chamberlain, director of sales at ATS Euromaster
“As with most of the sector, 2023 will be the tipping point for EVs and we’ll be supporting our customers to prepare their fleets to ensure maximum efficiency, minimise vehicle downtime and maximise uptime by using services such as our MasterCare or Michelin’s Connected Fleet solution. Tyres and ADAS on electric vehicles create particular problems and we’ll be helping fleets cut hidden costs.
“We’ll continue to develop our windows of operation to get work done whilst customers vehicles are off the road. And our sales managers will be on hand to help fleet managers research aspects, like tyres, in preparation for weather changes, supporting driver safety and helping reduce fuel costs.”
Saul Furse, managing director of eMobility and vehicle solutions at Radius
“Our fleet resolution here at Radius is all about keeping an open mind to the ever-evolving world of EV.
“As experts in sustainable mobility, we are aware that many transport professionals have mixed feelings about the energy transition. Whether it be concerns about the cost effectiveness of transitioning or misgivings around range anxiety, it is undeniable that many aren’t 100% sure on electrification. However, by providing the data to enable business to make decisions about when fleets are best placed to make the transition, we can make sure fleets are ready to the switch at the correct moment for them.
Murvah Iqbal, co-CEO of Hived
“At Hived, we operate an all-electric fleet of vans, cars, bikes and mopeds for our parcel delivery network.
“Having an entirely electric fleet means we are tailpipe emission-free by default, setting out to create a new sustainability standard in the logistics industry.
“My fleet resolution for 2023 is to continue to grow and diversify our fleet alongside the increased demand from major retailers for sustainable couriers. In doing so, we are maximising Hived’s positive environmental impact while supporting wider decarbonisation in the industry.”
Steve Thornton, commercial director, i247 Group
“My recommended new year’s resolution for fleets is ‘Build better driver contact data’, because contact details remain a challenge.
“Knowing your customer is so important, but many fleets struggle to identify who is actually driving the vehicle. Going into 2023, fleets will need to manage both new FCA consumer guidance and post covid SMR challenges.
“Being able to directly contact drivers will enable fleets to proactively communicate and deploy preventative maintenance services. That’s where I see fleets being able to unlock real efficiencies and an improved customer experience.”
Nat Barnes, journalist, media consultant and Fleet World contributor
“My new year’s fleet resolution for 2023 is for more drivers to become familiar with the concept of mls/kWh for efficiency for EVs and the price per kWh in the same way that they do currently for mpg and the pump price with petrol or diesel cars.
“As more and more business drivers turn to EVs, those levels of efficiency and prices are going to be increasingly important and the earlier that drivers can educate themselves, the more likely they will benefit.”