The pace of change in the fleet market is incredible. While it’s not a part of the “tech” industry, the evolutionary and revolutionary changes are coming just as fast and furious. The massive improvements in fuel economy would have been unimaginable a few years back. The data available through the various telematics platforms is staggering; way beyond what anyone imagined a few years back when people were just excited to be able to track some dots on a map. But probably the biggest change has come on the safety front.
The light- and medium-duty manufacturers have made some great strides in developing new collision-avoidance and mitigation technologies. But, as usual, most of the really good stuff is only available on the “diamond titanium” package or on the highest of high-end vehicles.
The fleet managers that I know did everything but stand up on their desks and scream that they needed the same stuff on the base level fleet models. And, surprisingly, they said they were willing to pay for it too.
Making changes to option packages for a vehicle manufacturer is not the kind of thing that is entered into lightly. If you have ever been on the floor of a vehicle manufacturing plant and have seen the amount of tools, parts bins, wire harnesses, microchips, etc. that go into a modern automobile, you were probably just as amazed as I was. It’s an incredibly complex process. Once the process is in place, making any significant changes is usually a 3-5 year process. The engineers need to get involved. The finance people need to get involved. The marketing people need to bless it. And the boss has to agree that it all makes economic sense.
Things like “take rate” are incredibly important and studied religiously. There’s no point in offering a whiz-bang option if no one is actually going to order it.
In the current climate, it would have been totally understandable if the OEMs took a couple years to study the implementation of these new technologies. But they didn’t. Several have taken a leap of faith, bypassing the usual analysis paralysis, and have driven the best safety options down to the popular fleet spec vehicles.
You don’t need the gold package to get blind-spot monitoring anymore. Likewise, you don’t need to also take the heated steering wheel to get adaptive cruise control. You don’t need Corinthian leather to get the frontal crash avoidance package.
So it’s a great time to be in the fleet business. It’s a great time for fleet managers to make a real difference, save money, save lives, and make their businesses more productive. And you can do it all now without breaking the bank.
If you disagree, let me know.