Fleet management trends for 2021

31 Jan 2021

Managing a fleet has never been more diverse or challenging. But for those who love it as much as we do, it’s also never been more rewarding.

From taking charge of driver welfare to deep-planning journeys, overseeing finances and lowering carbon emissions, fleet managers did the lot in 2020, and all against a backdrop of societal uncertainty. 2021 then, is sure to bring its own challenges and rewards as well. We’ve put together this post to help you get ahead of them and plan for success.

These are our top fleet management trends to watch in 2021.

An evolving focus on driver safety

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The pandemic isn’t going to end any time soon, which means safety has to be the first notable fleet management trend for 2021.

Not only will safety measures put in place last year continue, but fleet managers are likely to be at the forefront of improving those practices. That will mean making sure workplaces are sanitised, and workers (which includes drivers but might extend to other roles too) are given the necessary tools and personal protective equipment (PPE) to do their jobs safely and securely.

That safety focus could even extend to fleet managers being more selective about which journeys need to happen in the first place. Which brings us to…

5G-fuelled Telematics

We’ve mentioned both of these in recent blogs, but we couldn’t credibly talk about 2021 trends in the fleet industry without going into them again – they’re that important to the way the industry is going.

As we all know, telematics systems like our own Motrak system allow fleet managers to track vehicles with real-time updates and monitor their fleet for performance and driver behaviour. The data collected can then be studied and used to inform things like driver training and future route planning. That means telematics are at the centre of keeping people safe.

Road users and fleet drivers alike will feel those benefits in 2021 as fleet managers take an eagle eye to optimising routes, and dropping non-essential journeys. And this will all happen in a year where 5G – which is up to 100 times faster than 4G – will become the norm, allowing telematics systems to offer more detail and scope than ever before.

Fleets outfitted with 5G-compatible telematics systems this year will be set for years to come. That makes this area one of the biggest fleet industry trends of 2021.

A bigger focus on big data (and associated security)

The uptake of 5G and the resultant improvements to telematics systems will cause a considerable increase in the amount of data fleet managers will need to parse and make use of. For many, that will mean upgrading existing fleet management software, or moving to a new system equipped to deal with the surge.

Those who adapt in this fashion will find that analytics tools like our own Fleetintelligence make their life considerably easier. Offering easy to understand reports around every aspect of a fleet’s behaviour – encompassing fuel and maintenance analysis, service schedule, delivery information and more – Fleetintelligence gives fleet managers comprehensive and reliable insights to help them make the decisions that will shape their business. That makes such software an important fleet management trend to watch in 2021.

Remote management will find its feet

For at least the first half of this year, most of a fleet manager’s workload is going to happen remotely. While the shift to remote work took many businesses (not just fleet-based ones!) by surprise in 2020, in 2021 fleet managers are used to it, and in a position to plan around that fact.

But looking further ahead – where will the role be by year’s end? In some cases, companies have adapted so well to remote working that some roles might evolve to be permanent remote positions, or incorporate flexible working patterns. With the right software solutions, and depending on the role's responsibilities (which can be many and varied!) fleet management is one function where working remotely can be incredibly effective. We’d bet that remote working's increasing effectiveness will be one of the big fleet management trends to watch in 2021.

The EV revolution will gain even more momentum

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Our final fleet industry trend for 2021 is another that we’ve blogged about before, but would be remiss to leave out here.

With the UK government’s commitment to half of all new vehicles being ultra-low emission by 2030, the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) will be a huge factor for fleets of all sizes in the year ahead.

For fleet managers, that will mean taking time to understand the costs of purchasing new vehicles, adopting new technology, and the potential impact to journey logistics with recharging stops and more all to be factored in.

If that sounds scary, there’s an upside. For all the up-front expense, a fleet full of electric vehicles could be a massive money-saver down the line on fuel costs, with electricity a far cheaper alternative to petrol or diesel. (In fact, EV sales have actually increased during the pandemic!)

From a pure sustainability perspective, then – both for the planet and for fleet businesses – the move to EV should be to everyone’s benefit.

How is your fleet preparing for the year ahead?

If you’re a fleet manager, it’s unlikely that many of our fleet management trends for 2021 caught you entirely by surprise. But have you thoroughly prepared for every eventuality we’ve mentioned here?

If you need support in adapting your fleet for the future, we can help. Visit our Fleet Management and Fleet Innovation pages for a taster of what we offer. Then call us on 0844 854 5100, or email CSalmon@sgfleet.com to find out more.