September 29, 2008
The bread-and-butter customers of out-of-service fleet vehicles are buyers with C and D credit, namely subprime buyers. However, funders have tightened underwriting standards to manage these higher risk borrowers. Some lenders have caps on how low a FICO score they are willing to fund, which is often above the threshold of subprime borrowers. If this continues, it will have significant long-term implications for the sale of used fleet vehicles.
Posted @ Monday, September 29, 2008 12:25 PM | »
September 23, 2008
Due to staffing constraints, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA ) can currently only audit about 2 percent of nation's truck fleets. In response to these resource constraints, FMCSA is developing a Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA) 2010 initiative to implement new ways to reduce truck-related accidents. CSA 2010 will measure a fleet's safety performance through data uploaded from fleet compliance activities and accident reports.
Posted @ Tuesday, September 23, 2008 2:14 PM | »
September 22, 2008
When a company decides to brand vehicles with either logos or full-vehicle advertising wraps, it may inadvertently create a situation that puts employees in conflict with homeowner association restrictions on the parking of commercial vehicles in common areas. Most homeowner associations allow commercial vehicles as long as they are garaged, but not all fleet vehicles can fit in a garage due to height or length. An estimated 50 million Americans live in homeowner association communities.
Posted @ Monday, September 22, 2008 3:23 PM | »
September 19, 2008
The high cost of fuel is causing more employees to use fleet vehicles for personal use since many companies pays for gasoline. Although overall fleet mileage has increased, there has not been a corresponding increase in reported personal use miles. Companies that allow drivers to take vehicles home, but do not allow personal use, report a growing problem of policing unauthorized personal use by employees looking to reduce their "personal" fuel costs. This is a broad-based industry issue.
Posted @ Friday, September 19, 2008 9:37 AM | »
September 12, 2008
The 2008 model-year produced mixed results in order-to-delivery (OTD) perfromance. A protracted UAW strike and flooding in the Midwest delayed some models, while other models posted improved OTD due to reduced retail sales, which expedited fleet production. In addition, there was sufficient rail car availability due to soft retail sales and a decrease in quality holds.
Posted @ Friday, September 12, 2008 2:33 PM | »
September 9, 2008
When fuel prices crossed the $3.25 per gallon threshold, fleets began looking for ways to downsize vehicles or opt to four-cylinder engines.This trend is reinforced by corporate sustainability initiatives and/or fuel spend/GHG reduction programs. The shift to four-cylinder engines is broad-based and includes many of the nation’s largest fleets. One consequence to this increased demand for four-cylinder models is that fleets have increased their purchases of import-badged vehicles.
Posted @ Tuesday, September 9, 2008 11:19 AM | »
September 8, 2008
With a dramatic decrease in retail truck sales, some fleets are concerned that assembly plant closures and production slowdowns may delay truck deliveries and ship-thru upfits. In addition, there are further concerns about potential fleet allocation issues, availability of transportation, extended lead times caused by shift eliminations, and reduced special equipment runs. One challenge is moving completed upfit vehicles back into "traffic" when an assembly plant is shutdown.
Posted @ Monday, September 8, 2008 1:29 PM | »
September 5, 2008
On Aug. 27, the Securities and Exchange Commission raised the possibility that approximately 110 U.S. publicly traded companies will be able to use international accounting standards (IAS) next year and may require all U.S. companies to switch to IAS between 2014-2016. There is a 60-day comment period about the SEC proposal. Fleet leasing will be impacted by the adoption of IAS. It is probable that all fleet leases in the U.S. will need to be capitalized sometime in the 2011-2016 timeframe.
Posted @ Friday, September 5, 2008 10:33 AM | »
September 2, 2008
With fuel prices remaining elevated, many companies are wondering whether they are charging enough for personal use. At some companies, this discussion is long overdue. When re-evaluating personal use charges, a common mistake is to focus solely on the cost of fuel, which is understandable because, after all, fuel is the catalyst for these discussions. However, doing so ignores the other “hidden” costs of personal use, which have also risen.
Posted @ Tuesday, September 2, 2008 9:25 AM | »
August 28, 2008
Interdepartmental conflicts are common in the medical and IT industries, and at most companies between sales and operations. However, for many years, fleet existed as a realm of its own. Management in other departments often didn’t fully understand the nuances of fleet management other than they got a new vehicle every 36 months. Fleet managers of that era (not that long ago) were the “kings” and “queens” of their own realms. However, that reality is rapidly changing.
Posted @ Thursday, August 28, 2008 1:27 PM | »
August 25, 2008
The greatest challenge facing the future of fleet management is how we see ourselves as a profession. Are we administrators of a fleet or are we managers? Do we manage from a tactical level – putting out day-to-day fires – or from a strategic level focusing on specific long-term objectives using metrics to benchmark progress? In the future, you will need a strategic focus to succeed in fleet management; otherwise you run the risk of fading into irrelevancy.
Posted @ Monday, August 25, 2008 3:13 PM | »
August 22, 2008
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (also known as HIPAA) makes it a criminal act to divulge medical information to a third-party without the employee’s permission. Many fleet managers believe HIPAA non-disclosure requirements are counter-productive to fleet safety. One fleet manager lamented to me that “HIPAA is the worst thing that has ever happened to fleet.”
Posted @ Friday, August 22, 2008 8:41 AM | »
August 18, 2008
In two decades of chronicling the history of fleet management, I have seen interest in fleet safety ebb and flow. In an annual survey I conduct of fleet managers, they rated fleet safety as their No. 2 concern, right behind the cost of fuel. Why the renewed interest in fleet safety? More and more fleet managers are reporting an uptick in preventable accidents. In addition, fleet managers are feeling pressure from other corporate departments to increase fleet driver safety.
Posted @ Monday, August 18, 2008 12:57 PM | »
August 14, 2008
The high cost of materials has caused price increases for truck bodies, trailers, van interiors, liftgates, and other upfit equipment. Prices have increased, on average, 3-8 percent. Upfitting prices have risen multiple times and some truck equipment manufacturers are guaranteeing current prices for only 90 days. Worldwide, prices have soared for commodities used in upfitting, such as steel and aluminum.
Posted @ Thursday, August 14, 2008 1:44 PM | »
August 12, 2008
Fleets are adopting compensatory strategies to offset high fuel costs. These include selector modification, revised vehicle specs, increased personal use charges, streamlined fleet operations, and modification of driver behavior.
Posted @ Tuesday, August 12, 2008 10:19 AM | »
August 7, 2008
The past two weeks have produced a dizzying string of announcements ranging from Chrysler Financial stopping lease financing, Chase Auto Finance no longer providing lease financing for Chrysler brands, Wells Fargo ending lease financing, all major OEMs decreasing truck production volumes, and HSBC Financial Corp.’s decision to stop funding auto loans. All of which may be good news for fleets remarketing vehicles two to three years from now.
Posted @ Thursday, August 7, 2008 8:46 AM | »
August 5, 2008
The best time to control cost is before it occurs and the way to do this is by establishing policies and procedures that inhibit unnecessary spending and protect corporate assets. Adherence to fleet policy is crucial and it should be part of each company’s overall business strategy. The best managed fleets tend to be those whose drivers adhere to a written fleet policy. Does your corporate culture encourage compliance with fleet policy?
Posted @ Tuesday, August 5, 2008 8:41 AM | »
July 31, 2008
In Tuesday’s blog, I likened predicting the future to a billiard game to illustrate that seemingly unrelated events can influence the future direction of the fleet market – events we may never see coming. With this in mind, let’s rack up our hypothetical balls, placing the “fleet ball” in the center of the rack. Let’s whack the cue ball to see what new fleet scenario may unfold from this catalyst. In this new analogy, the cue ball catalyst is a relatively recent concept called hyperconnectivity.
Posted @ Thursday, July 31, 2008 4:00 PM | »
July 28, 2008
Predicting the future has been likened to a billiard game. The cue ball is the catalyst – representing a seminal event – that upon crashing into a racked set of balls triggers not only the initial reaction, but numerous unanticipated secondary and tertiary reactions. When the cue ball strikes its target, it unleashes unanticipated dynamics of balls deflecting off other careening balls, ultimately changing all of their trajectories. Let’s expand the analogy by making “fleet” one of the balls.
Posted @ Monday, July 28, 2008 11:21 AM | »
July 25, 2008
The greatest catalyst for change in fleet management in the next 10 years will be "technology." It is getting increasingly expensive to operate a fleet. There are diminishing opportunities to reduce cost and enhance fleet efficiency using traditional fleet management techniques. A growing number of companies are investigating (or are more receptive) to technology-based fleet solutions. Looking ahead, here are my predictions as to how technology will change fleet management in the next 10 years.
Posted @ Friday, July 25, 2008 9:24 AM | »
July 21, 2008
The high cost of raw materials, in addition to the high cost of fuel, is starting to make a financial impact on fleets by increasing costs for truck chassis, bodies, trailers, liftgates, and other upfit equipment. On July 9, Navistar announced that rising commodity costs have forced the company to increase prices of International truck models. Is this another in a series of commodity-related price increases that we will see from other OEMs, upfitters, and trailer manufacturers?
Posted @ Monday, July 21, 2008 12:28 PM | »
July 18, 2008
Today's new-vehicle market will generate (ultimately) the used-vehicle market of tomorrow. If there is a decrease in new-vehicle sales, there will be a corresponding decrease in the future number of used vehicles in the marketplace. Even though there is a lot of nervousness in the market, no one is anticipating a dramatic decrease in new-vehicle commercial fleet orders for the 2009 model-year. However, the same cannot be said for the retail new-vehicle market.
Posted @ Friday, July 18, 2008 9:01 AM | »
July 15, 2008
A combination of market forces have converged to create a “perfect storm” to drive down resale values for pickup trucks by 15-25 percent. These convergent forces are higher fuel prices, tighter consumer credit, and a stagnant construction market. As a result, the pool of buyers (hence market demand) for used trucks has contracted, putting downward pressure on resale prices.
Posted @ Tuesday, July 15, 2008 8:56 AM | »
July 11, 2008
Although fleet is extremely important to automakers, the reality is that retail sales and retail considerations drive many OEM decisions. Currently, retail buyers are demanding four-cylinder engines in what appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to paying, on average, $4.03 per gallon for gasoline. Franchise dealers just don’t have enough four-cylinders in inventory to meet this demand and they are clamoring for more product.
Posted @ Friday, July 11, 2008 8:19 AM | »
July 7, 2008
I believe “location privacy” has a strong potential to become a hot-button societal issue in the next decade. It will focus on privacy infringement and potential abuse due to the pervasiveness of GPS-based products and services. These long-term implications frighten many privacy advocates. Unfortunately, I believe fleet management will be swept up into this controversy.
Posted @ Monday, July 7, 2008 4:07 PM | »