The NAFA Fleet Management Association (NAFA) hosted a general session spotlighting the state of the fleet industry and the challenges of today and tomorrow during the 2020 Institute & Expo (I&E) Virtual Conference, on Sept. 17, 2020.
NAFA President Patti Earley, CAFM, joined Moderator Mike Antich, editor, Automotive Fleet; Katie Keeton, President at Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA); and Steve Carey, President at NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry, for the session.
The session started with the panelists discussing fleet budget cuts and offered their perspective for fleet ordering in the 2021-MY. This segued into a discussion on trends in the development of vocational trucks and vans, and the evolution of vehicles within the fleet system with a focus on productivity and efficiency and the introduction of new vehicle technologies to this segment.
Then this turned to a discussion on how telematics and safety technologies, such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), are continuing to be more ubiquitous in fleet vehicles, including in more trucks and vans. The group discussed the importance of parsing through the abundance of data that is being provided to fleets with these newer technologies and identifying areas that can best benefit their fleet using this data.
The panel also discussed the importance of driver ergonomics with how it relates to safety and maintaining driver satisfaction and employee retention.
How company budget cuts are impacting fleet expenses was another key point of discussion, which has caused fleets to be more creative with their budgets by seeking solutions with the best return on investment (ROI).
Also discussed was the current state of regulatory issues and challenges being experienced, touching on areas including vehicle data privacy, sustainability, and more. Sustainability was discussed as an area that continues to be a strong area of interest across the board for fleets, and the benefits and challenges of incorporating these technologies.
This segued into a discussion on the latest trends in for university and educational fleets, which also focused on sustainability, vehicle utilization, as well as COVID-19 safety protocols. The panlists then delved deeply into COVID-19 safety and sanitation protocols, emphasizing the need to reduce physical interaction between people as much as possible in the various facets of the industry, also looking at this for fleets with in-house maintenance shops, upfitters, and manufacturers.
Following this, panelists discussed how associations like NAFA and AFLA are supporting members of the fleet industry by helping them improve their business and elevate their careers. The panel wrapped up with a look at how the pandemic elongated order-to-delivery times for the 2020-MY and how OTD times might look moving into the new year, and touched on the significance of collaboration in the industry.