Navigating 2024: a spotlight on some of the key trends, challenges and opportunities for fleets
As we embark on our 2024 journey, UK fleets find themselves in an era of transformation – one driven by technological advancements, environmental concerns and evolving regulatory frameworks.
Here we take a look at some of the trends, considerations, challenges and opportunities over the next 12 months.
Navigating environmental compliance with cutting-edge technology
Understanding and adhering to a regulatory landscape characterised by shifting environmental regulations – including stricter disclosure requirements under the UK Sustainability Disclosure Standards (UK SDS) – will be paramount for fleet businesses if they are to avoid penalties and maintain a positive corporate image.
Technology solutions can act as a facilitator in this regard. Fleet Operations’ MOVE platform, for example, enables the digital capture of vehicle carbon emissions. The innovation eliminates the need for driver entries, streamlining the process of accurate scope 1 and 2 emissions reporting. Such technological developments can not only support compliance, but they also underpin heightened levels of process efficiency.
Harnessing AI: a game-changer for fleet transport
The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) signals a new era of technological advancement and it is set to play an increasingly disruptive role in the automotive and fleet transport sectors.
The recent integration of ChatGPT into Volkswagen vehicles is a prime example of this shift – a move that signifies just the beginning of AI’s immense potential. AI technologies are set to revolutionise process automation, not just for vehicle fleets but also for manufacturers and industry suppliers. This includes everything from predictive maintenance and route optimisation to personalised customer experiences and streamlined supply chain management.
Fleets must remain alert to the opportunities. Embracing AI will prove increasingly important to operational efficiency and gaining a competitive edge in what is an increasingly tech-driven market. The future of the automotive and fleet sectors will be shaped by those who effectively leverage AI to optimise their operations and innovate their services.
Charging ahead: the unstoppable momentum of e-mobility
Despite the delay to the UK ban on new petrol and diesel car sales, the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), especially cars, is set to continue apace.
This growth will be fuelled by ongoing improvements in EV capabilities and UK charging infrastructure, the ZEV mandate and the postponement of ‘rules of origin’ legislation. Collectively, these factors will lead to increasing numbers of fleet businesses integrating EVs into their operations and reviewing and updating vehicle choice lists based upon Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
Meeting the demands of tomorrow’s fleet
We can expect 2024 to usher in further advancements in the capabilities of commercial EVs, particularly fully electric e-LCVs. Developments in this market will ultimately prove critical for their adoption by fleet operators, offering enhanced functionality for a broader range of business applications.
Anticipated improvements include extended battery range and efficiency for longer distances, enhanced payload and towing capacities for heavy-duty tasks and more tailored designs for disparate operational needs.
Beyond electric: elevating sustainability
An expectation of robust environmental and ESG credentials is intensifying among business customers and across all stages of the fleet supply chain.
Consequently, 2024 will not just be about having an electric fleet, it will be about appealing to a growing eco-conscious customer base by adopting a comprehensive approach to sustainability.
This means raising the bar in environmental practices – everything from optimising routes for fuel efficiency and implementing eco-driving training programs to exploring the use of more sustainable materials in packaging and logistics, and going beyond business mileage to examine the carbon impact of all employees commuting that fall into Scope 3.
The rise and rise of salary sacrifice schemes
Salary sacrifice schemes for fleets are gaining unprecedented popularity, thanks to the favourable benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax treatment for electric vehicles.
With BIK rates as low as 2% until April 2025 and gradually increasing to just 5% by 2027/28, salary sacrifice schemes offer a cost-efficient option for both employees and businesses. The significant reduction in income tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) makes them an attractive proposition – and this can be expected to fuel continuing growth throughout 2024.
The imperative of continuous learning
As the fleet industry pivots towards a more sustainable and technologically advanced future, staying informed and adaptable will be an important ingredient to success.
The growing complexity of fleet management calls for continuous learning and skills development. This includes the need for fleet departments to stay up to date on evolving technologies, regulatory compliance and sustainability practices.
Organisations such as the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) and the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP) offer valuable learning and development programs to equip professionals with the requisite proficiencies in this dynamic environment.