After a year that seemed to embody the word ‘unprecedented’, Peter Mansfield, group sales and marketing director at vehicle technology specialist Trakm8, examines what 2021 may hold in store for the fleet sector.
“Few fleet industry professionals could have predicted the challenges the sector would face in 2020. The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent measures to control it, have engendered a fundamental shift in how we work, shop and travel; the impact of which has been felt right across the fleet sector.
“And while the prospect of a widespread vaccine roll-out by spring 2021 is welcome news indeed, the habits we have picked up across the past year may well be here to stay.
“Chief among them are the ways in which we shop for groceries. The rise of online grocery retail has been forecast for some time, but the emergence of the pandemic accelerated that growth, with one in four Brits now buying food and essentials at least once a week online. All major retailers reported a significant upturn in online order enquiries, with supermarket giant Sainsbury’s announcing in September that it had doubled its pre-Covid-19 online capacity.
“What’s more, research carried out by Waitrose found that 40% of respondents intend to shop online more going forwards than they did before the outbreak; a statistic that should give all retailers reason to pause for thought. With more customers than ever turning to online retail, investment in fleet capabilities – to ensure retailers can meet this surging demand – is pivotal.
“But scaling up delivery capabilities doesn’t have to mean investing in more vehicles – quite the opposite, in fact. I predict 2021 to be the year when even more retailers switch onto the powerful benefits technology can deliver in streamlining fleet efficiencies, investing in telematics and other vehicle technology to help maximise their assets.
“This will include the use of route management software, which utilises data rich insights to provide the most economic route for drivers – ultimately enabling them to make more deliveries on their routes – and diagnostic platforms, which provide real-time vehicle health checks, helping fleet managers to ensure their vehicles are running as smoothly as possible and critically, eliminate costly downtime.
“Another primary driver for the fleet sector in 2021 will be the move towards a more sustainable economy. Much of this will be driven by the Government’s recently announced commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 68%, compared to 1990 levels, by the end of this decade.
“This follows on from an announcement last month, in which the Prime Minister unveiled new legislation that will see the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles banned by 2030. For the fleet sector, this should be viewed as the clearest sign yet that the Government is standing by its far-reaching sustainability targets and serve as impetus to invest in the technology they need to make the transition to electric, across the next decade, as seamless as possible.
“Beyond sustainability, government legislation will continue to play an important role in shaping the fleet industry’s approach to safety in 2021. In March of next year, the Direct Vision Standard (DVS) will finally roll-out across London. In short, the DVS measures how much an HGV driver can see directly through their cab windows, indicating the level of risk to vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians or cyclists, near the vehicle.
“All lorries over 12 tonnes entering or operating in the Greater London area will require a valid HGV safety permit, which will be granted if the vehicle meets the minimum DVS safety star rating. Technology, and the adoption of on-vehicle cameras, will play a pivotal role in ensuring compliance; a key consideration for any business looking to continue operating in London.
“At Trakm8, we are looking to the New Year with a renewed sense of optimism. In 2020, we secured a number of new and extended contracts with a number of major businesses throughout the UK and we are looking to building on this next year. Following the launch of our Insight platform earlier this year, we will be launching new hardware solutions across 2021, alongside committing to continued investment in our business to further strengthen our offering to customers.
“Ultimately, I am confident that 2021 will be a year of growth and opportunity. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the fleet sector has proved itself to be one of the most adaptable and responsive industries in the UK and those self-same qualities will leave it well positioned to grow in the New Year.”