Fleet Car Maintenance Costs Increase 7 Percent in 2012-CY
Although costs have increased, many fleets continued to cycle vehicles early to take advantage of still favorable resale market conditions. This strategy has reduced average vehicle age and helped minimize maintenance expenses.
The 2012 average maintenance costs for vehicles within a given month range are listed above. The chart reflects climbing repair costs of aging vehicles. It does not include rental expenses. Chart courtesy GE Capital Fleet Services.
Impact of New Technology
The introduction of new technology will continue to impact fleet maintenance in areas previously not imagined. “For example, new technology is reaching beyond the traditional drivetrain and fuel enhancements and is affecting the vehicle windshields,” Strom said.
Mark Klein, strategic account manager for Safelite Solutions, offered several examples of how new technology is changing windshields.
“The windshield is no longer just an independent part comprised of a vinyl interlayer sandwiched between two pieces of glass. As new cars become smarter and features evolve, the glass is also becoming a smarter, more integrated component of vehicles and their overall safety system,” Klein said.
Another relatively new technological feature that is affecting the windshield is the lane departure warning (LDW) system, which often incorporates a video or infrared sensor mounted behind the windshield glass. According to NHTSA, 68 percent of 2012 model-year vehicles crash-test rated by NHTSA contain an LDW system. The number of vehicles incorporating an LDW system is expected to reach more than 22 million units worldwide by 2016.
“Many other features impact auto glass, including head-up displays, antenna systems, moisture-sensing attachments, heated wiper park pads, and light sensors,” Klein added. “There are also a number of variables in the actual glass that impact maintenance costs, such as heat reduction, theft resistance, and acoustic interlayer. A given vehicle may have several of these features.”
The graph above displays the rising repair cost trend at higher mileages. The results support cycling older, higher-mileage vehicles to reduce costlier repairs and driver downtime. Chart courtesy GE Capital Fleet Services.
So what does all of this new technology mean to the future of vehicle maintenance as related to windshields?
“In some cases, it means a more enjoyable experience for the driver. In others, it means improved safety,” Klein said. “It also means the complexity and importance of properly manufacturing and installing glass safely is on the rise, impacting costs as well.”