Special Report: The State of Commercial Fleet Management in 2010
There continues to be economic uncertainty among fleets manifested by extended cycling, right-sizing initiatives, and intense pressure to control costs. The consensus is the worst is behind us, but 2010 will be a tough road.
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The economy went into a freefall in fourth quarter 2008 and first quarter 2009, creating a devastating impact on commercial fleets and the automotive industry in general. Currently, there is a sense among many that the turmoil in the commercial fleet market has stabilized after the past 18 tumultuous months.
"There should be signs of stabilization in 2010, but growth will be slow and spending will be done carefully," said Bob Adamsky, who manages a nearly 500-unit fleet for Del-Air Heating & Air Conditioning in Sanford, Fla.
However, this assessment is not a universal industry consensus. Some see even more challenges ahead. "Like everyone else, we have more challenges than ever to face in 2010," said Alicia Hammond, fleet administrator for Ambius in Buffalo Grove, Ill.
Some challenges are "dark clouds on the horizon," such as the potential volatility of fuel pricing, interest rates, and uncertainty of used-vehicle residual values.
"Every fleet, be it large or small, will be impacted by the challenges before them in 2010. Whether it comes in the form of fluctuating fuel prices, increased costs from manufacturers, leasing companies struggling to make ends meet, new governmental rules and requirements to be met, or the ever-present demand to 'make it work' while cutting costs at every possible corner," said Chuck Kukal, fleet supervisor, administrative services for Infinity Insurance Co. in Birmingham, Ala.
Others believe 2010 will not be much different than 2009 for commercial fleets, which is not too comforting.
Based on responses from more than 100 commercial fleet managers, the following are the key issues facing their fleets in the 2010 calendar-year.