The coming year in the automotive industry will bring more connected fleet vehicles, increased use of alternative fuels, ride sharing as a cost-reduction strategy and more semi-autonomous features in new vehicles, according to fleet management company experts.
More connected vehicles will advance safety by reducing risky driver behaviors through the use of telematics and other vehicle-intelligent technologies, and by providing better data around vehicle utilization and diagnostics, said Zingha Lucien, manager of strategic consulting with Element Fleet Management.
Vehicle connectivity will continue to have an impact on traditional fleet methodology for managing vehicles, said John Wuich, vice president of strategic consulting services with Donlen.
"Telematics and on-board connectivity, for example, have opened the door towards predictive driver and vehicle analytics," Wuich said. "Predictive analytics will advance strategies aimed at improving safety and compliance, reducing downtime and driving down spend."
And despite low fuel prices that aren't expected to significantly increase in 2017, Lucien expects greater investment in alternative fuels, mostly electrified and natural gas vehicles.
"The infrastructure is improving, while the vehicle cost is decreasing/will decrease, thereby removing some of the barriers to employing such vehicles," Lucien said.
Ride sharing should play a greater role in fleet management as a way to minimize fleet costs.
"This has pushed many companies to revisit driver eligibility," Lucien said. "What we would expect to see is an increase in pool vehicles for service fleets and drivers in urban locations. So rather than a 1-to-1 driver-to-vehicle ratio, we will see an increase in 1-to-many vehicle driver relationships."
And new vehicles will increasingly offer expanded semi-autonomous features as automakers advance toward autonomous driving after 2020, said Beth Kandrysawtz, CEO of Motorlease Corp.
"Features such as park assist and auto-pilot mode have allowed us to become more familar and comfortable with our vehicles acting on our behalf," Kandrysawtz said. "Moving toward 2020, we expect to see additional technology focused on security and keeping the information being gathered by autonomous driving and vehicles secure."