Fleet operators are most worried about keeping up with fleet management technology, shortages of qualified drivers, and a possible economy slowdown, according to a survey from TD Bank. The survey focused on evolving technology and expectations for equipment financing.
More than half of responents (52%) said changing technology poses the biggest challenge in the coming year. This year, telematics providers have been racing to release new video-based telematics products, and fleets face the impending shutdown of Verizon's 3G cellular network at the end of the year.
Autonomous trucks appear to be captivating fleet managers, who said (61%) they agree they will become mainstream in the next decade.
In the alternative-fuels realm, 45% of respondents said they would like to incorporate electric or liquid natural gas vehicles in their fleet.
Fleet managers appear to be moving to diversify and grow their fleets with 84% saying they will "make significant adjustments" to their vehicle composition. About one-fifth (17%) said they will invest in new asset classes that favor last-mile delivery, and 33% plan to increase the size of the fleet they manage.
"The transportation industry is on the brink of a major transformation," said Anthony Sasso, TD Bank's head of equipment finance. "Traditionally, the industry has been defined by trucks and infrastructure, but the use of mobile devices, GPS and electronics have revolutionized logistics. To stay competitive, fleet managers need the capital or funding to upgrade and acquire modern equipment."
Companies are looking for flexible finance solutions that offer shorter term loans and the ability to upgrade equipment frequently. About 50% of respondents indicated that they are more inclined to finance equipment acquisition through leasing options. Only 10% indicated they would prefer loans.
The results come from a TD Bank survey of 120 respondents who attended the NAFA Institute & Expo earlier this year in Kentucky.