As Automotive Fleet celebrates its 60th anniversary, we look back on the major milestones that have influenced fleet management. The seventh edition of the Top Fleet milestones covers events that occurred between 2010 to 2021.
Below is a sampling of more than 60 key milestones that helped shape the fleet industry in its more than 80 years of existence.
More Stringent 2010 and 2007 Diesel Emissions Standards: New regulatory standards made diesel-powered trucks extremely clean. However, the technology needed to accomplish this dramatic emission reduction is very expensive and has introduced new complexity to maintaining diesel-powered vehicles.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated that all diesel engines used in heavy-duty highway vehicles comply with more stringent emission standards beginning Jan. 1, 2007. Technologies used to help meet the requirements include improved electronic control systems, ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD), exhaust aftertreatment such as catalytic converters and diesel particulate filters (DPF), enhanced exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), cooling system changes (due to higher heat loading), and fuel/air ratio changes.
The 2010 diesel emissions standards lowered permissible NOx emissions even further. In response to these strict regulations, truck makers either began using urea-injection, known as selective catalytic reduction (SCR), or an advanced exhaust gas recirculation (AEGR) system. The standards led to increased acquisition costs ranging from $5,000-$13,000 per truck.
Women in Fleet Management Organization Created: The Women in Fleet Management (WIFM) organization was founded in 2011. Since then, WIFM has experienced dramatic growth in both female and male membership and collocated its annual meeting with the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA) conference in 2012, which have grown in popularity to be standing-room only events.
WIFM provides networking, mentoring and other opportunities to women and men in the fleet industry. WIFM is now comprised of more than 2,500 fleet professionals via its associated AFLA membership, LinkedIn discussion groups, and industry receptions.
First-Ever Global Fleet Conference: Bobit Business Media held the world’s first-ever Global Fleet Conference in 2013 in Phoenix, Ariz.
Expansion into the Digital Realm: In 2016, Bobit Business Media, publisher of Automotive Fleet, accelerated its focus on new digital strategies to adapt to rapid changes in the fleet industry. The publisher enhanced its business intelligence platforms and data collecting to better support the strategic needs of commercial fleets.
The Global Fleet Networking Consortium: The consortium consists of five founding member associations: The Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA), Australasian Fleet Management Association (AfMA), the Mexican Fleet Leasing Association (AMAV), the China Road Transport Association, (CRTA), and the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP) in the UK.
Amazon to Create the World’s Largest Private EV Fleet: In September 2019, Amazon placed a 100,000-unit order for Rivian all-electric vans, the largest to date for an electric delivery vehicle. All 100,000 Amazon EV vans will be deployed by 2030. In 2020, Amazon acquired more than 1,800 electric vehicles from Mercedes-Benz Vans to its delivery fleet in Europe.
Growth in Virtual Education: Bobit Business Media broadened its eLearning experiences to accommodate the increase in digital industry education. As of print, there is an existing family of 13 Bobit virtual Experiences and over 100 eLearning events. Bobit’s in-house team developed a custom virtual events platform providing the flexibility to tailor each event to meet the specific needs of various fleet segments.
COVID-19 Pandemic: Declared a pandemic in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has the dubious distinction of being the greatest-ever disruption of the fleet industry in the history of the profession. Car-rental demand collapsed triggered by the economic shutdown and the dramatic decrease in airline travel due to contagion fear. The government’s self-induced economic shutdown created a decline in tax revenues resulting in severe budgetary shortfalls at all public sector fleet operations.
Most sales operations at dealerships were closed immediately during the shutdown, impacting courtesy deliveries and out-of-stock vehicle purchases, with only dealership service departments allowed to remain open. All DMVs were closed or only open by appointment, disrupting all fleet registrations. One positive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was the surge in last-mile deliveries as entire states implemented shelter-in-place mandates.
North American Auto Industry Stops All New-Vehicle Production: In March 2020, all assembly plants one-by-one stopped new vehicle production due to state stay-at-home health orders to curb the spread of COVID-19. This temporary shutdown also extended to all automotive parts suppliers.
The plants stayed closed until late April when the first plants started reopening one-by-one. By end of May 2020, all North American plants eventually resumed production and the delivery of fleet vehicles started to recommence.
Fleet Industry Cancels In-Person Conferences and Shifts to Online Events: Fears of contagion during the COVID-19 pandemic caused all in-person fleet conferences and meetings to be canceled and substituted with virtual conferences.
The last in-person conference in 2020 was the Work Truck Show, which was held in March. Following this all scheduled in-person conferences were canceled and transitioned to virtual events. For the first time in the histories of NAFA, AALA, AFLA, NAAA, NIADA, and NADA, all of these associations conducted virtual online versions of their annual industry conferences.
Hertz Global Holdings filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection on May 11, 2020: The Chapter 11 protection extended to Hertz, Dollar, and Thrifty car rental brands after the parent company failed to reach an agreement with credits following the collapse of daily rental demand due to dramatic reductions in business travel caused by the pandemic.
Wholesale Auction Industry Goes 100% Digital: During March 2020, all wholesale dealer auctions temporarily closed in-lane bidding due to COVID-19 contagion fears and the enforcement of local health regulations, with the only online auctions being the only remarketing channel available to fleet remarketers.
Independent auctions started to recommence in-lane sales at physical auctions in June that conformed to CDC guidelines.
GM Debuts BrightDrop, a New EV Business Unit: In 2021, General Motors debuted a new business known as BrightDrop, which will offer an ecosystem of electric first-to-last products, software, and services for delivery and logistics companies.
BrightDrop’s first product will be the EV600 all-electric light commercial vehicle purpose-built for the delivery of goods and services over long ranges. FedEx Express bought the first 500 units of the EV600 that will be produced. Also, in 2021, Ford Motors revealed the E-Transit all-electric van, which will launch as a 2022 model.