The fleet services industry will continue to meet customers’ demands through both technological and service innovation in the next decade, says Gary Killeen

Over the past ten years the fleet industry has changed dramatically. Changes to the way fleets are managed and regulated have given rise to added complexity not just for fleet managers, but also for finance directors, HR managers and procurement teams.
In the ten years that Key Solutions, GE Capital’s fleet consultancy service, has been operating, we have seen these changes take place. But how will the next 10 years of fleet services be defined?

Fleet choices have always been important for a company’s reputation, employee retention, image and safety, but in the post-credit crunch world, minimising cost has become the central business mantra. As a result, we expect the following trends to emerge over the next decade as fleet services continue to ensure greater optimisation within tighter cost parameters.

Increased focus on whole life costs

Over the next 10 years we expect to see the swing towards whole life costs continue. For those that have not already followed this route, we expect them to do so. For companies that have already adopted this thinking, we believe fleet services providers will look to enhance further the sophistication of measurement and accuracy of prediction when it comes to the factors involved.

Better technology

The greatest change in company vehicles over the next decade will be the emergence of the ‘connected car’ that will collect and transmit data about itself via the internet. This is likely finally to make telematics a widespread, low-cost fleet reality, and fleet services providers will use this information both to improve the accuracy of existing products and to develop new ones.

Balancing motoring taxes with policy

Our research shows that company cars continue to be primarily a business tool and, over time, choice lists will become even more sophisticated as they continue to adapt to a system of taxation and legislation designed to encourage the use of lower-carbon cars.

However, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, this approach could lead to a revenue shortfall of £13bn by the end of the next decade. This will inevitably lead to further policy implications as the government seeks a balance between motoring taxes and CO2 reduction and fleet managers will need to remain aware of and responsive to these changes.

Today’s ever-increasing focus on driver safety, outsourcing and process efficiencies were mainly a secondary consideration 10 years ago. With the current emphasis on increasing efficiency and minimising cost, it is inevitable that improving service delivery through innovation will remain at the forefront of fleet services over the next decade, resulting in significant benefits for company and driver alike.

Gary Killeen is fleet services commercial leader for GE Capital UK