The Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA) is launching its first-ever fleet conference in Canada. Known as the AFLA Canada Fleet Summit, it will be held on Feb. 12-13, 2020, at the Hilton Toronto Airport Hotel in Mississauga, Ontario. The conference will focus on disseminating Canadian-specific fleet best practices and facilitate peer-to-peer benchmarking of non-proprietary fleet information.
It is designed to help promote industry best practices among Canadian-only commercial fleet managers working for small and mid-size businesses and to help multinational fleets operating in Canada, particularly those managed by U.S. fleet managers, to better understand the Canadian fleet market. At the conference conclusion, the following day, Feb. 14, starts the 2020 Canadian International Autoshow in downtown Toronto.
This will allow conference attendees an opportunity for attendees to maximize ROI to attend the AFLA Canadian Fleet Summit by getting a comprehensive immersion of the latest vehicles being sold in the Canadian market.
Similar but Different
A key demographic targeted for the AFLA Canada Fleet Summit is Canadian small and mid-size businesses.The second target demographic is multinational companies with subsidiary operations in Canada, many of which are U.S. headquartered corporations. With many of these Canadian fleet operations managed by American fleet managers, there is often a false assumption that fleet management between the two countries is nearly identical.
However, as most Canadian fleet professionals will attest there are important differences. Although there are many similarities, Americans would be wise to heed the advice of their Canadian brethren and approach Canada as a separate country.
However, it is understandable why American fleet managers harbor this misconception. The U.S. and Canada share a 5,525 mile (8,891 km) border that stretches across the North American continent from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. It is the longest unfortified border in the world.
Built on the boundary of the U.S. state of Washington and the Canadian province of British Columbia is the Peace Arch monument. An inscription on the U.S. side of the Peace Arch reads, “Children of a common mother,” and the words on the Canadian side read, “Brethren dwelling together in unity.”
About 80% of the population of Canada lives within 100 miles or 161 km of the U.S.-Canadian border and are able to access U.S. television broadcasts and radio transmissions. Although Canada is a bilingual country, it shares English as a common language with the U.S.
In terms of business, Canada is the largest trading partner of the U.S. and the U.S. is the largest trading partner of Canada. All of this fosters the impression of cultural and business similarities between the two countries, especially among Americans.
Many U.S. headquartered multinational companies have sizeable operations in Canada that operate geographically dispersed fleets of vehicles. Often, these multinationals manage their Canadian fleets from the U.S. corporate headquarters. At one time, most Canadian operations of U.S. multinationals had a local Canadian fleet manager.
However, this began to change in the 1990s as the outsourcing trend swept through corporate America. Over time, many Canadian fleet manager positions were either eliminated or not filled when an opening arose, with the U.S.-based fleet manager invariably assuming overall responsibility.
Understanding the Differences
Some of the differences between the Canadian and U.S. fleet markets that a new U.S.-based fleet manager needs to understand are:
There are many regulations governing fleets in Canada, which can vary from province to province. For instance, laws governing privacy are stricter in Canada. In addition, fleet terminology differs between the U.S. and Canada.
One example is a motor vehicle record check, which is called a driver abstract in Canada. In some provinces, a leasing company can request a driver abstract on your behalf. But in other provinces, driver abstracts must be requested directly from the driver.
Canada is a Bilingual Country
English and French are the official languages of Canada. About 20% of the people in Canada consider French to be their first language. All fleet information should be available in French. Suppliers need to be selected so drivers are able to communicate with them in their language preference.
Most larger companies elect to communicate in both official languages, but it is important to note that French-only is a requirement in the Province of Quebec.
Canadian models are built in metric sizes for parts and fasteners. Vehicle gauges are calibrated to the metric system with temperature shown in Celsius, tire pressure in kilopascals, fuel economy in liters per hundred kilometers, and odometers and speedometers in kilometers. The body stylings are usually identical, but option package content may vary even though packages may have the same name as the U.S. counterpart.
Vehicle Pricing & Ordering
The exchange rate between the U.S. dollar vis-à-vis Canadian dollar has a direct impact on pricing. There are also differences when negotiating incentives and rebates with OEMs. Second, the process of delivering fleet vehicles to drivers differs between the two countries. In Canada, fleets order and deliver from the dealers closest to the driver.
While the end-result is similar, the methodology for delivery is different. Also, since only about 10% of an OEM’s total production, on average, goes to Canada, delivery dates on factory orders are sometimes longer and buildout and start up dates are different. A U.S.-based fleet manager must pay close attention to these differences
In Canada, there are major fuel networks – Esso, PetroCanada, and Shell. Although these chains are large, in some cases with over 2,000 locations, they are not sufficient to cover the entire country. In Canada, national fleets supplement their fuel network with independent and regional fuel vendors.
Nationwide fleets supplement their national account networks with independent service providers and OEM dealers because of the country’s expansive geography.
Metric-Based Fleet Management System
Vehicle data is captured in a metric format – liters instead of gallons and kilometers instead of miles. The Canadian fleet requires a separate dashboard and reporting that uses separate customer numbers because of the differences in currency and the measurement systems.
I hope to see you in Toronto Feb. 12-13, 2020. Save the date!
If you manage a fleet in Canada, your attendance will provide immediate ROI to your company.
For more information about AFLA, check out the association's web site -- www.afla.org/Canada
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