Fleet management is undergoing major advances and 2024 will be a decisive year in two key areas: safety and decarbonisation. In addition, technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) applied to automotive will drive new challenges and opportunities in the sector. In this article, Justin Manson, Sales Director at Webfleet, Bridgestone’s fleet management solution, has compiled five fleet management trends that Webfleet sees as being on the global horizon for this year. Do you agree?
1: AI in the automotive industry
Artificial intelligence is revolutionising everything, from programming to data management, cybersecurity and training. It also plays a crucial role in the automotive industry, advancing issues such as autonomous driving, road safety and user experience. This trend will continue in the coming months, with AI being used to train autonomous vehicles, improve emergency braking systems, detect fatigue, predict vehicle maintenance and optimise routes in real-time, ultimately improving mobility in cities.
Reducing the environmental footprint has become one of the most important goals for companies globally, alongside meeting increasingly stringent emissions targets. Many European cities have already implemented Low Emission Zones (LEZ), and by 2030, Zero Emission Zones (ZEZ) will be introduced, permitting only vehicles that do not emit to circulate. Additionally, new regulations, such as the Corporate Sustainable Reporting Directive (CSRD), which will come into force from this month, will be a challenge.
3: Fleet Electrification
2024 will be the time to transition fleets to electric vehicles (EVs). Rapid technological advances, combined with a global commitment to sustainability, create a particularly favourable environment for electrification. According to a Webfleet study on the electrification potential of vehicle fleets, 61% of commercial vehicles in Europe could be replaced by an electric alternative. Moreover, companies with EVs save on average 5,665 litres of fuel per vehicle per year, R74,893.82 in costs, and 15 tons of CO2 per vehicle per year. However, there are still challenges to overcome, such as the charging network, although the EU plans to distribute EV charging points on the main road networks.
The electric trucks on South Africa’s roads will be joined by vehicles powered by gas, specifically compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas, and fuel cell trucks. “A fuel cell truck is an electric truck that generates electricity from fuel cells powered by hydrogen stored in tanks. In a fuel cell, hydrogen and oxygen are combined through an electrochemical reaction to generate electricity, heat and water.”
4: Smart Charging for electric vehicles
One challenge confronting companies with electric vehicles is smart charging. What’s the point of using electric vehicles if recharging is done using non-renewable energies? The market is starting to implement systems that ensure the use of clean energy during the charging process of electric vehicles. This not only improves battery health and increases residual value, but also facilitates charging when grid costs are lower, leading to energy cost savings.
5: Fleet Safety
The World Health Organization (WHO), estimates that traffic accidents result in 1.3 million fatalities and 50 million injuries every year. To address this, a global strategy has been drawn up to reduce road deaths and injuries by at least 50% by 2030. The strategy involves establishing measures such as setting driving and resting time limits and using in-vehicle technology to promote safe driving styles. In the upcoming year, safety will be given even more attention in regulatory developments, particularly with regards to tachograph compliance.
Even better news is that there will be safer trucks on South African roads in 2024 and into the future. Global truck manufacturers are constantly striving to introduce innovative safety features. Unlike in the past, where many were optional extras, features such as lane guidance and collision avoidance are fast becoming standard features in the newer models.