The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Are You A ‘Doubting Thomas’?

September 2006, by Ed Bobit - Also by this author

I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.
Wilson Mizner

No man likes to have his intelligence or good faith questioned, especially if he has doubts about it himself.
Henry Adams

Doubt of any kind cannot be resolved except by action.
Thomas Carlyle

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.
Bertrand Russell

When we published Mike Antich's (he's our veteran editorial director) "Buying Intentions Forecast" in our July issue, he had canvassed a large number of fleet managers. It also covered a period in April and May, perhaps before purchasing plans for the fall were etched in stone.

In the first paragraph of his feature story, Mike summarized the opinions of the interviewed group by saying that "the overwhelming majority of respondents indicated that there would be no change in their '07 orders."

Mike assures me that most of those people he talked to three or four months ago were confident in their approach to ordering their new models. And I believe him. And I believe all those fleet managers felt that way then.

I can share in confidence that the many fleet managers I have talked to in the past: two months are singing a different tune. I've been to four national fleet previews, three fleet advisory board meetings, and other functions where both fleet managers and fleet lessors were grouped together.

While a handful of these fleet managers remain confident in maintaining a status quo in repeating their '06 buy, most expressed doubt about their intentions. They also were not very exact in telling me when and how they were changing their purchasing plan. They unconsciously conveyed doubt.

So, why did this happen in the past couple of months?

1. The corporate climate has changed once again. There's no doubt that expense savings is the mantra, even more than last year. If you haven't had to face off on reimbursement lately, be prepared to.

2. The dramatic shift in a sustained $3+/gallon cost for gas makes its mark on everyone (including execs) personally as well as corporately. The media prominence on the topic relates to nearly every selection decision. Why are personal "big" pickups, company SUVs, and 6- (and 8-) cylinder engines suddenly in a jaundiced view'.' Why are crossovers, small sedans, and 4-bangers now attractive? Duh!

3. Older models persist in the landscape for fleet. Projected remarketing values from three years ago now are proving pretty accurate. These values for "domestics" still aren't where many of the U.S.-built "imports" are. Between gas and depreciation (and the cost of money), lifecycle costing becomes a cardinal rite.

4. The "Go Green" (and I don't mean my Spartans) craze phase is waning. Initial price, loss of incentives, I lie competitiveness of new 4-cylinder engines on mpg. and fleet availability lead the executive folks to think twice.

5. Before the landscape clears on the fall selector (a done deal by the time you read this), this year's process will include some head-banging between corporate policy makers, HR (who should be carrying the flag with risk management for safety), and presumably the fleet manager who champions the comfort angle along with the head of sales.

If your selector still isn't settled, 1 urge you to take the initiative with backup for each of the numbered above items. Then, add alternate Plan A and B (and Plan C if you're chicken and want to CYA). Present it before you're asked and do it professionally. Then take an aspirin and call me in the mornings.

Twitter Facebook Google+


Please note that comments may be moderated. 
Leave this field empty:

Fleet Incentives

Determine the actual cost of owning and running a vehicle in your fleet. Compare vehicles by class and model.


Fleet Tracking And Telematics

Todd Ewing from Fleetmatics will answer your questions and challenges

View All


Fleet Management And Leasing

Merchants Experts will answer your questions and challenges

View All


Sponsored by

Larry Giddens was the director of fleet operations for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in Winston-Salem, NC.

Read more


Market Trends

Mike Antich
Spec’ing Today’s Trucks to Meet Tomorrow’s Needs

By Mike Antich
When you spec truck assets today, many of these vehicles will be in service for 10 to 15 years or longer. While these assets are adequate for today’s business, will this still be true 10 to 15 years from now? This is an important question because some fleet managers tend to focus on today’s needs and neglect the long-term considerations as to how job requirements may evolve in the future.

Human Nature Prone to Take Advantage of Docile Autonomous Vehicles

By Mike Antich

View All

Driving Notes

Paul Clinton
2017 Ford F-150 with 10-Speed

By Paul Clinton
While higher-gear transmission have traditionally been reserved for European luxury sedans, Ford's application of the gearbox to its leading seller is so inspired a choice that it almost feels inevitable.

2017 BMW 540i

By Paul Clinton

View All

Nobody Asked Me, But...

Sherb Brown
Remembering the Coach

By Sherb Brown
Three years have gone by since our founder Ed Bobit passed away. In many ways it feels like an eternity but in other ways it feels like he was just here yesterday. He was a larger-than-life force and left quite an impact on me, and on the fleet industry.

The House of Electric Vehicles

By Sherb Brown

View All

Data Points

Dylan Brown
Demand More From Your Fuel Card Provider

By Dylan Brown
The advantages of tracking driver spending can't be overstated, as the data provided can help fleet managers assess if drivers are efficiently purchasing fuel, as well as identify high-performing vehicles and drivers who can serve as examples to the rest of the fleet.

Does Telematics Branding Translate to Adoption?

By Dylan Brown

View All

In Memoriam: Coach's Insights

Ed Bobit
Thinking of the Newbies of the Future

By Ed Bobit
A lot has changed in the past 10-15 years, so we can only imagine this momentum will continue into the next decade-plus. How will this change impact the fleet manager of tomorrow?

Managing a Car vs. Work Truck Fleet

By Ed Bobit

View All


Up Next

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher