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5 Takeaways from the 2019 Global Fleet Conference

Another Global Fleet Conference is in the books. It was great connecting with fleet managers from across the globe while discussing the latest in international mobility trends.

Here are five takeaways from the conference.

1. The key to a global fleet strategy is company culture.

Wheels kicked off the conference by hosting a roundtable discussion along with our global alliance partner ALD Automotive. The main idea was to leverage company culture to build your global fleet strategy and objective. The group examined six pillars of a global fleet culture:

      1. Sustainability

      2. Outsourcing manageability

      3. Innovation, disruption and mobility

      4. Safety

      5. Benefit perk attractiveness

      6. Aggressively low cost

Identifying clear global targets helps steer the conversation with local and international stakeholders. Having a global fleet steering council to set the strategy and align it with the company goals was put forward as a best practice by several members of the panel. This was also reiterated by several fleet manager presentations during the conference, such as General Mills, Mondelez, PepsiCo and AGCO.

2. In Latam, mobility managers are the new fleet manager.

In a three-part session that provided a comprehensive overview of Brazil, Mexico and other Latin American markets, ALD Automotive’s regional director of Latin America Kent Bjertrup and key account director Sergio Lecue discussed safety, energy efficiency and mobility.

The panel assessed how fleet managers needed to grow their skill sets to include all forms of mobility management such as ride hailing and e-mobility for last-mile solutions. Additionally, they explored how electric vehicle adoption is low in Latin America overall, but slightly higher in Mexico where prices are a bit better. In Brazil, armored cars are still popular for top-level executives, yet they serve as more peace of mind, since true cases of aggression are low.  

3. In a global market, fleet safety isn’t one-size-fits-all.

With 1.25 million road deaths occurring each year, it’s no surprise that it should be a top priority to everyone in the fleet world. The Managing Fleet Safety track explored how it’s important to recognize the reality of each country to have an effective safety policy. It should be applicable, achievable, agreed upon, and audited or it won’t be efficient. Straying too far outside the country’s reality could cause the driver to feel disconnected from their daily life and cause adoption to fail. The poor road infrastructure in Latin America or Africa, the privacy laws in Europe, or the increasing cost of litigation in the U.S. should be taken into account when you set your policy.

An additional challenge is instituting key performance indicators you can follow. Classifications of accidents and other metrics are not consistent across the globe. Telematics can support a global safety initiative but it’s important to set the objective beforehand and keep it simple or you may be overwhelmed by divergent data formats.

4. With vehicle connectivity, it’s neither top down nor bottom up.

The Fleet Productivity and Technology track, discussed how when adopting a connected vehicle strategy some opt for a top-down approach that involves searching for data to solve a known problem. Others conversely institute a bottom-up method where there’s lots of data and yet they’re unsure what problem to solve. The solution lies in the middle. It’s important to consider both the company’s objections and all the areas of data that are available and aren’t.

Vehicle connectivity also helps with electric vehicle adoption plans. If hybrids are part of your fleet, you’re only reaping the savings if drivers plug in to charge. Requiring drivers to use electricity as an energy source and monitoring compliance via connected vehicle data ensures your sustainability initiatives are met.

5. The military will pave the way for autonomous vehicle technology.

In the 1960s, the first iteration of the internet was created by the U.S. military. In 1979, GPS was established and in 2000 it was greenlit for civilian use. So an interesting case was made to say that the future of autonomous vehicles could come from the same institution.

At the Top Megatrends That Will Influence the Future of Global Fleet Management keynote presentation, it was discussed that the U.S. military currently has a budget of $3.7 billion for unmanned and autonomous technologies—a figure the private sector can’t match. With their critical situation of having to operate without the use of high definition maps and a digital 5G infrastructure, they’ll need to rely on advanced artificial intelligence to accomplish their autonomous vehicle goals. If history repeats, this pressure will likely produce remarkable results.

If you have any questions about global fleet management, please contact me at gbourst@wheels.com.