Fleet Financing

How to Align Your Global Fleet Strategy in North America



North America has a mature fleet market with a strong appetite for telematics and connected car technologies, but there are some challenges when it comes to preparing your global fleet policy in the region. What are they and how can we overcome them?

Supported by expert advice from last week’s World Fleet Conference, below is an overview of the fleet profile in the US and Canada, followed by some tips for aligning your global fleet strategy. In the region.

North America, Leasing

In 2019, just before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, commercial vehicle sales in the United States represented a market of US $ 12.8 billion and Canada accounted for about 10%.

The main players in vehicle rental and fleet management in the region are Element Fleet Management, LeasePlan, ARI, Wheels and Enterprise Fleet Management, although several other providers are available.

Financing, maintenance, collision management, driver safety, and vehicle registration services are used in leases, but keep in mind that the model of choice is open. Services are normally billed as they go and residual value risk rests with tenants, so procurement teams plan your vehicle acquisitions with due diligence.

Although the risk of depreciation is placed on the tenants, the terms are more flexible as more options are available at the end of the contracts. In general, rental and fleet management are on the rise.

“The market for fleet management solutions has been robust lately, and its value is expected to increase approximately threefold by 2026,” said NAFA vice president of the North America Fleet Management Association. David Hayward (pictured right) said during the conference.

However, according to Vinzens Pflanz (top photo), who is president of corporate sales for mobility services company SIXT, personal vehicle use may decline. “I think it will be replaced by other mobility services that are more related to sharing, rental and transport services,” Flanz added during a panel discussion (top photo).

As for the vehicle brands of choice, some of the major ones include Ford, Toyota, Honda, Chevrolet, Nissan, Hyundai, BMW and many more.

Electrification

When it comes to electrification, North America lags behind China and Europe, but several new electric vehicle (EV) models are being introduced and most OEMs claim to be predominantly electrified from 2030 to 2035. This also includes models of newer names such as Polestar, Rivian, Lordstown, Workhorse, Elms, as well as Tesla. One of today’s latest growing trends is electrified trucks and vans.

Nowadays, multinational companies are also under pressure to be more sustainable, which is reflected in the possible implementation of electric vehicles.

“One of the main drivers to keep in mind when developing our fleet policy is sustainability or, for example, the reduction of CO2 emissions. The others are security (GPS monitoring) and mobility (flexible solutions). We’re testing electric vehicles now, but it’s more of a future plan, ”said Rachel johnson (photo on the left) who is a fleet specialist in the Americas for the lifting equipment company Konecranes.

Ms. Johnson manages 1,100 vehicles in the United States and 160 in Canada, which represents approximately one-third of the company’s global fleet. Konecrane uses an open-ended rental contract offered by a single company that supplies light tool trucks with fittings as well as SUVs.

In the United States, the fleet represents 18% of the EV market, or approximately 2.87 million vehicles per year. Of this total, 1.81 million are commercial enterprises, 860,000 rental and 200,000 public. The electrification surge is mainly seen in California, followed by New York.

As for recharging infrastructure, it exists in large cities but is lacking along highways and in rural areas. The federal government’s infrastructure plan announced by President Biden earlier this year, however, appears to be contributing significantly to the expansion.

“What is really holding back the adoption of EVs today is education. Once you are familiar with electric vehicles, other concerns such as lack of charging infrastructure, range anxiety and higher vehicle prices are more of an excuse, ”the vehicle maker said. Electric Polestar Head of Fleet. Denis craig. (photo on the right)

Telematics

Although electrification is still progressing slowly in some states, the use of telematics is proliferating across the country. Almost all vehicles in the fleet are virtually equipped with telematics systems, as it is important to maximize cost savings, safety and productivity. Data is essential today for fleet managers.

It started with larger fleets, but has now spilled over into smaller fleets. Remember, you need to know exactly why you are using telematics. Set milestones and know your return on investment.

“For us, the implementation of EVs is very gradual at the moment, but connectivity and telematics are certainly in the deployment phase. We are using this to help reduce downtime in our fleet and that means possible downsizing, ”said Kimberly Fischer (top photo) who is global fleet and travel manager for the oil and energy company National Oilwell Varco (NOV). Ms. Fisher operates approximately 6,000 units worldwide, including 5,000 in North America.

Legislation

In the meantime, in the United States, keep in mind that the law can negatively impact your business, so be well informed. For one thing, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates vehicles over 10,000 pounds. In addition to defining the scope of operation and maintenance of vehicles, it supervises drivers in terms of experience, training and drug and alcohol policy.

Remember that employers are responsible for the conduct of employees. Therefore, choose your drivers carefully, train them, and then monitor them to ensure compliance. Reward or correct certain driver behaviors and make sure this is done at all levels. You don’t want to be hit with DOT fines because they can get very high.

Finally, in more recent news, keep in mind that the region faces supply chain issues resulting from plant closures influenced by the coronavirus and the current global semiconductor shortage. This has translated into strong resale values ​​and a robust used vehicle market.

“Residual value risk is now low as the used car market is at a historically high level,” said NAFA senior vice president Mike Camnetar (pictured left) at the event, however adding that this does impact 2022 model deliveries which could take five or six months to arrive.

Amid the fallout from the pandemic, there was also a need for more flexible leasing solutions, offering different models and shorter lead times.

Align the global strategy with North America

Keep in mind that not all one-size fits all, and regional leases are more common. Closed leases with all services included and fixed monthly payments typically work globally, but they are more expensive. Understand the differences between the markets first, then customize your policy appropriately.

Do your research and know the services offered by the providers. Continue to speak with potential suppliers as well as your current supplier so you always have the full picture. Current suppliers sometimes end up responding to your own requests by default. And once you’ve found the right partner, set benchmarks, schedule annual reviews, and set cost reduction goals.

“Keep in mind that a vehicle in the North American fleet can travel longer distances than you are used to in other countries, not to mention the different body types and driver profiles you can find. in the region, “said Jorge Fernandez (photo on the right) who is Global Category Manager for the fleet of the biotechnology company Roche.

Mr. Fernandez operates around 14,000 passenger cars around the world, including 3,000 in North America, which is confirmed to fall under the open-ended rental model.

“First, find the right OEM partner, as overseas ones may not be applicable in the United States, which means warranty, maintenance, reliability and residual value aspects,” said Ralf wessel (photo left) who is Global Facilities, Fleet and Security Senior Manager for AGCO Machinery Company.

Mr. Wessel operates 2,300 vehicles worldwide, 650 of which are in North America, both leased and owned.

In closing, although the United States and Canada are very similar, some of the speakers stressed the need to recognize Canada as a country in its own right. “Remember, Canada is not the United States. Besides having smaller fleets (35-70 vehicles), there are other peculiarities that need to be recognized, ”said Tom Callahan, CEO of vehicle fleet management company Donlen (photo above) .

If you missed a session of the Global Fleet Conference or would like to replay one, come back to these pages on Monday, May 17th when all recorded sessions are posted.

Top photo: Panel discussion on how to improve efficiency in fleet management in North America, moderated by Global Fleet editor and conference host Steven Schoefs (source: Global Fleet)



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