Deciding the Future of Your Fleet: Factors to Consider Amid Global Vehicle Shortage

Deciding the Future of Your Fleet

The automotive industry is in an interesting place at the moment. While we’re in the middle of perhaps the ever-greatest revolution in fleet fuel sources, it is not without its glitches. A global microchip shortage had hindered the rollout of new EVs, while some fleet owners chose to reduce their fleet size when the Covid-19 crisis reduced demand. This has led to some operators facing challenges in renewing and expanding their fleets. This shortage won’t last forever, but it is something that Fleet Managers need to think carefully about in the interim. With the current short supply of new vehicles, Fleet Managers may consider adopting longer replacement cycles for their fleets.

Is this a good idea? It has its pluses and minuses, like most decisions. However, to make an informed decision, Fleet Managers need access to quality, reliable data on their fleet. Let’s look at some of the factors that should be considered when deciding whether to keep or replace your fleet.

Is your fleet Service History ready to hand?

You must have your full-service history for your fleet ready to hand, along with all costs, to project the likely costs to run a vehicle for an extended period. In fact, you should have this information to support vehicle purchases in the first place. From the manufacturer’s point of view, it didn’t happen if the paperwork wasn’t there; it didn’t happen. Any undocumented service or repair could leave a significant gap in your cost to run reports, or more importantly, it could void your warranty.

What is your fleet’s warranty situation?

You might have different makes and models on your fleet, and warranty policies can vary, so you need to know and understand this. It could be the case that you keep {Mark A} because these are 5 years and unlimited mileage are still under warranty and {Mark B} is out of warranty in two months or 20k so you need to analyse your data to see if there are any outstanding TSBs or product updates required before your warranty expires. Warranty is one of those areas where you need to pay attention to the fine print – it’s often the case that warranty on commercial vehicles is shorter than that for passenger vehicles.

Should you run a vehicle outside of warranty coverage, you will need to know your options for service and repair. Can your provider offer you second line parts to curb the costs? Is there a labour discount for older vehicles? Can your Fleet Management system allow a switch to another service provider for older cars?

Have you considered servicing options for an older fleet?

Likewise, it’s worth looking at your existing service plan options. For instance, a manufacturer may cover five services on their vehicles. As with a warranty, it’s essential to have a plan in place for what happens when that service plan runs out. Can you get a fleet rate through your existing service provider for older vehicles, and again, will the parts be readily available?

Are parts a problem for your fleet?

We touched on parts availability in relation to warranty and service plans. Part usage itself is an area you need to keep tabs on and analyse when deciding on fleet retention or renewal. For example, are there some vehicles that seem to go through particular parts faster and more frequently than others? Now, this could be down to driving style (for example, brake pads or clutches), but if it’s happening across the board, it might be worth looking at the data to see if it’s worth hanging on to this vehicle type. And even if you do decide to renew it, bear in mind when deciding whether or not to go with a like-for-like replacement.
Similarly, you might have certain vehicle types that regularly suffer gearbox problems (regardless of driver). Even if these are covered by warranty (which isn’t always the case), the downtime alone may be enough to prompt replacement with a different type of vehicle going forward. Ready access to service history on a system such as ForWare will make it easy to analyse if cars are eating their way through certain parts, need frequent workshop visits, and the costs to your company.

Fleet fuel factors to consider

For those looking to hold onto petrol or diesel vehicle fleets, Fleet Managers need to be mindful of increases in fuel duty, carbon taxes, NCT, emission requirements, and much more. With this in mind, it’s worth looking at how your existing vehicle types consume fuel, are some heavier on it than others? As with part wear, some of it can be down to driving style, so you need to keep on top of this data. ForWare offers integration with Fuel Card suppliers,which gives you access to telematics for your fleet’s fuel consumption.

There is a lot to think about, a lot to consider and analyse. If you are still trying to manage this without a Fleet Maintenance system or a process, you could be making the wrong moves. This is where a comprehensive, integrated system like ForWare becomes an asset to your Fleet Management operation.


Alan ForWare

Alan is a positive and proactive automotive professional with over 25 years of extensive experience in the motor trade.

Alan has been vital in developing and driving the ForWare System and implementing core workshop processes with some of the most significant state and private fleets in Ireland, the UK and Europe.

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