The past two decades have demonstrated fleet’s resilience, creativity in doing more with less, struggle to balance budgets, and dealing with the rollercoaster ride of fuel prices. Automotive Fleet has been the No. 1 industry source of fleet information for more than 50 years, publishing a list of the top commercial fleets ranked by total fleet size. Taking a look back at the top fleet listings from 1990 to present, long-evolving trends become apparent.
Chart 1 shows the total cars and trucks/vans/SUVs in five-year increments. While total vehicle counts increased steadily through 2010, the data for 2012 shows a sharp decline in both car and truck totals.
Causes for the decline in total vehicle counts include automaker bankruptices in 2009, the overall economic downturn, and efforts to rightsize vehicles and downsize total fleet counts.
Chart 2 illustrates the change in total cars in service over two decades, broken out by the number of units in the Top 100 Fleets and the Top 2nd 100 (fleets ranked 101-200 on AF’s annual listing). The orange line shows the total vehicle count.
The total number of cars in the Top 100 experienced its peak in 2010, with the lowest total in 2012 (a 60-percent decrease). Total number of cars in the Top 2nd 100 has been on a steady decline, peaking in 1990. Total cars for all 200 top fleets peaked in 2010.
Chart 3 illustrates the change in total trucks/vans/SUVs in service over two decades, broken out by the number of units in the Top 100 Fleets and the Top 2nd 100. The orange line shows the total vehicle count.
The total number of trucks in the Top 100 has been on the rise, experiencing a peak in 2010, with the lowest total in 1990. The total number of trucks in the Top 2nd 100 had been steadily increasing as well.
The increase from the smallest total fleet vehicles during the evaluated years (632,273 in 1990) to the largest total fleet vehicles (more than 1.5 million units in 2010) is a difference of 871,325 vehicles in just 20 years, or an increase of 138 percent. Total vehicles declined by 28 percent from 2010 to 2012.
In reviewing the numbers, it’s possible to see the “lag” time between economic events, such as GM and Chrysler’s voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcies and overall economic downturn, and any changes in fleet composition.