A fleet of vehicles is any group of cars purchased by and for a business, organization, or agency rather than a family or individual. Car rental companies, public transportation agencies, and distribution businesses are some of the most common buyers of fleet vehicles, and there is no shortage of fleets in the United States.
In fact, fleet sales grew consistently in 2019, despite comparatively flat sales in the rest of the industry toward the end of the year, speaking to the fact that the country’s infrastructure is more reliant on commercial vehicles than ever. Still, fleets are consistently targeted as some of the most promising candidates for striking evolution thanks to technological updates in the automotive industry, so what exactly will fleets look like in the not-so-distant future? That remains to be seen, but there are some strong hypotheses among those in the know.
Autonomous Fleets May Take Center Stage
With the rise of the Internet of Things, more effective integration, and advanced sensors in every vehicle, truly autonomous vehicles are not so far-off as they once seemed. There are a few reasons that fleet vehicles are likely to be the most commonly-purchased autonomous vehicles: firstly, self-driving vehicles are bound to be wildly expensive for a period of time so groups will be able to afford them but most individuals will not; secondly, despite that initial expense, businesses and organizations will save money long term due to the fact that they can have fewer employees.
Operational Considerations Will Shift Drastically
If autonomous vehicles do indeed become as popular among fleets as speculated, then attention to managing the fleet will shift from managing drivers to monitoring data. Rather than an entire team of drivers, it may soon take just a few remote professionals checking in periodically with vehicles’ progress to maintain operations.
Electric Vehicles Will Likely Reshape Fleets
Whether a fleet becomes autonomous or not, there’s a good chance that within the next 5 to 10 years, it will be at least hybrid, if not entirely electric. As the battery life for electric vehicles becomes far more extended and pressure mounts for the automotive industry to cut its carbon footprint, it’s no wonder that electric fleets are considered a practical certainty.
New Job Opportunities Will Emerge
Though the future of fleets may seem like a bleak outlook for drivers, there is one major silver lining in terms of job availability: new technology requires new qualified maintenance technicians. If fleets do choose to rely on autonomous vehicles, they will have to have maintenance professionals on staff; even if they don’t go fully driverless, they will likely need to provide maintenance support for electric vehicles as drivers won’t be familiar with the components.
It’s hard to say exactly where the future of fleets will land over the course of the next decade, but it’s safe to assume that material change will occur in the next few years thanks to the commercial opportunities presented by burgeoning automotive technology.