A year of evolution for fleets: reflections on 2023
The past 12 months have marked a pivotal juncture for the UK road transport sector, especially for business fleets.
Changes in legislation, economic volatility, advancements in electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure and technological innovations have all played a part in influencing fleet management strategies.
We take a look back.
The shifting sands of regulation
One of the most notable legislative changes in 2023 was the UK government’s decision to delay the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles.
Initially set for 2030, this postponement – which came in for vehement criticism among many – provided fleet operators with a little more breathing space, allowing extra time for transition planning. The need for long-term strategies aligned with eventual electrification, however, has remained.
The delay did not diminish the government’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions, on the surface at least. The ZEV mandate – requiring that 28% of new car sales are EVs in 2025, 52% are EVs in 2028 and 80% are pure electric in 2030 – was introduced and came into force in January 2024.
Moreover, the introduction of more Clean Air Zones intensified the push for low-emission vehicles, impacting fleet composition and operational considerations.
Charging infrastructure: stepping up to power EVs
A critical aspect of the EV transition is the availability of charging infrastructure, which saw significant improvements in 2023.
The UK government, in collaboration with private companies, accelerated the expansion of public charging networks. This development has proved crucial for fleet operators, with the increased availability of fast and ultra-fast charging stations helping to reduce range anxiety and downtime, while serving to strengthen the business case for EV adoption.
We also saw a rise in workplace charging solutions across UK plc. Financial incentives made it more viable for companies to install charging points at their premises, facilitating a smoother integration of EVs into fleets. This not only supported daily operations, but also demonstrated a corporate commitment to sustainability.
A spotlight on alternative fuel vehicles
While EVs were at the forefront, 2023 also saw a growing interest in alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) such as those powered by hydrogen fuel cells. These may offer other options for businesses, particularly for long-haul transport.
The UK government’s continued support for hydrogen technology research and infrastructure development indicated a diversification in its approach to achieving a low-carbon transport sector.
Technological advancements: redefining fleet management
Technological innovations in 2023 played a vital role in elevating fleet management to new levels of efficiency.
Fleet Operations’ MOVE platform, for example – a groundbreaking network of interconnected technology including a driver portal, stakeholder portal, management portal and mobile app – has helped to revolutionise the way fleets are managed.
MOVE delivers insights and optimisation capabilities across a broad spectrum of areas, including TCO, asset, driver and risk management, SMR, off-road events, CO2 capture, vehicle ordering, mileage capture and expense management. By combining data sources and seamlessly integrating data from suppliers, MOVE accurately portrays the true cost, risk and compliance of fleets.
Standalone telematics platforms also continued to evolve, offering more detailed insights, particularly for EV management.
Electric vehicles themselves saw advancements in battery technology, resulting in longer ranges and shorter charging times. This progress served to alleviated some of the apprehensions about EVs in commercial use, making them a more viable proposition for a broader range of business uses.
Furthermore, the integration of AI and machine learning in fleet management software led to advancements in predictive maintenance capabilities. By anticipating vehicle issues before they occur, businesses have become better placed to reduce downtime and maintenance costs, ensuring a more reliable fleet operation.
Advancements in driver-assist technologies, such as automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, and adaptive cruise control, became more prevalent in new vehicle models.
These technologies not only improve safety but also contribute to a more comfortable driving experience, an important factor for businesses prioritising the wellbeing of their drivers.
In summary, the year 2023 could be described as a watershed moment for UK business fleets.
They were encouraged to view changes to the transport environment not as challenges but as opportunities for innovation and leadership. By embracing electric and alternative fuel vehicles, leveraging technological advancements, and adapting to new legislation, fleet operators could not only comply with evolving standards but also drive greater levels of efficiency and cost-effectiveness into their operations.
The road ahead is one of continuous adaptation and strategic planning, as the UK moves towards a greener, more sustainable transport future. For business fleets, staying informed and being proactive is key to navigating this dynamic landscape successfully.
For insights into some of the trends, challenges and opportunities facing fleets in 2024, read our follow-up insights guide here.