Fleet electrification requires a new playbook that goes beyond the vehicle sale. Automakers are now bundling services for fleets — including resources to build out charging infrastructure. - Photo...

Fleet electrification requires a new playbook that goes beyond the vehicle sale. Automakers are now bundling services for fleets — including resources to build out charging infrastructure.

Photo via Flickr/Earth and Main.

Welcome to the very first FleetTakes blog post.

FleetTakes is exactly that — a take on what fleets need to know when it comes to the latest in automotive, transportation technologies, and creative solutions to improve fleet processes. I’ll point you to developing stories, the latest news, and what’s trending across Bobit’s fleet publications with quick insights and analyses from a fleet perspective.

Here goes:

Automakers Become Service Providers for Fleeting EVs

Fleet electrification requires a new playbook that goes beyond the vehicle sale to driver training, infrastructure planning, and harnessing data to assess duty cycles, optimal charge times, lifecycle analyses, and more. Automakers know this and are bundling services internally for fleet customers as a one-stop-shop to electrify.

In July, General Motors and BrightDrop (GM’s new commercial electric vehicle business) announced the Ultium Charge 360 fleet charging service, which will connect fleets to services surrounding infrastructure planning and financing and fleet and facility management tools. The service integrates with GM’s OnStar Vehicle Insights — a telematics and data tool — and the BrightDrop fleet and asset management platform.   

GM has partnered with numerous depot infrastructure providers to facilitate infrastructure at the depot, on the road, at the homes of fleet drivers. This infrastructure buildout won’t happen overnight. “We’re still in the infancy of all this,” said Ali Jahed, electric vehicle consultant manager for General Motors Fleet, at a recent GM fleet event in Phoenix. “Look how long it took for gas infrastructure to be built out. When the first Model T was sold, there weren’t a lot of gas stations close by.”

Ford Pro is a new, separate business within Ford focusing on commercial fleets. While Ford Pro is much more than electric vehicles, the new unit is configured to help fleets electrify as the automaker brings two high-volume electric vehicles — the E-Transit and the F-150 Lightning — to market. (Earlier this year, Ford acquired Electriphi, a charging management provider, to integrate into Ford Pro and handle hardware and software solutions for public, depot, and home charging.)

Ford Pro offers in-house solutions around charging hardware and software, telematics and data intelligence, and financing for vehicles and charging infrastructure.  

You’ll hear more about how Ford Pro is helping fleets electrify when Tim Baughman, general manager, North America for Ford Pro takes the stage on Nov. 11 to deliver the keynote at the 2021 Fleet Forward Conference in San Jose.

Free2Move has big plans for North America

You may know Free2Move as a European carsharing company. Yes, it’s still that, and Free2Move has carsharing services in the U.S. as well — in Washington, D.C. and Portland — and a subscription vehicle program in Los Angeles. That’s only “the tip of the iceberg,” said David C. Dowty, head of North American business and corporate development for Free2Move in this Fast Forward video.

While Free2Move was born out of Peugeot, it’s part of the Stellantis group, and will be leveraged across its other brands. Dowty said Free2Move a technology company that's bringing together B-to-C and B-to-B mobility services, fleet management, and advanced data services under one roof.

On the data front, Free2Move will take data from Stellantis-brand vehicles’ modems and third-party hardware and then normalize that data for insights that fleets can use. (OEMs harnessing data ^^ sound familiar?)

Free2Move is well-established in Europe with over 200 employees. “We're going to take that energy and growth that's driving the Free2Move brand in Europe and bring it here to North America,” Dowty says.

Does Reimbursement Weaken CO2 Goals?

In this interview with Mike Antich, Element’s David Madrigal makes a good point on corporate fleets’ sustainability initiatives: “Does a reimbursement policy mean CO2 emissions from those employees don’t count, even though they’re driving their emission-emitting vehicles for work?”

Among other things, Madrigal addresses driving internal change to transition to EVs and how the work-from-home model will affect fleets.

Refocusing Senior Management on Safety

The Fleet Safety Experience, convened virtually last month, was overflowing with insights, tools, and action items to create safer fleets. You can register for free to watch the seminars on demand, and check out our articles from the event on addressing distracted driving, and how fleet managers are solving growing safety problems.

In a networking session, John Kuder, a senior instructional designer with Avatar Fleet, offered advice to a fleet manager looking to make safety a bigger priority for senior management.

First, start out with a declaration: “We strive to reduce crashes to zero by (a certain date).” Second, assign overall safety goals and risk management to one person — a single stakeholder will deliver more consistent results, Kuder said. Third, change management strategy should encompass “What’s in it for me,” which entails focusing on how the initiative make employees’ jobs easier.

In the same session, Mace Hartley, executive director at the Australasian Fleet Management Association, said senior management will always respond to issues impacting profitability. He suggested providing monthly overviews of incident rates that include not only the cost of those accidents but also the loss of time and productivity.

“Raising the awareness of the true cost of every incident is a great way to get them to focus,” he said.


About the author
Chris Brown

Chris Brown

Associate Publisher

As associate publisher of Automotive Fleet, Auto Rental News, and Fleet Forward, Chris Brown covers all aspects of fleets, transportation, and mobility.

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