3 May 22

“The goal must be: simplify and harmonise”

“Hands up who has a dog at home,” said Heidi DiAngelo (Geotab). Not exactly how you’d expect a session on launching a successful global fleet data solution to start, but with her speaking partner Willem Duijf (Moove), she delivered an interactive and engaging talk on exactly that topic at the Global Fleet Conference on 3 May.

“Geotab is often considered a telematics company, but what we’re doing is much bigger than that – it’s about data,” she said. Vehicle data is certainly something we have more of than ever before. The question is: How do you identify which data is useful for you?

Data + context

As Mr Duijf pointed out, the usefulness of data also depends on the context. One example: “Vehicle accident data tells you what happened, not why it happened. In the Netherlands, we recently had a crash in which the driver was blamed, but when we looked at the planning, we saw that his delivery address was unclear, and he was on a rush to deliver on time. So the correct response to make sure this type of accident can’t happen again was to change the planning.”

The latest Global Fleet survey shows that 72% of global fleets feel connectivity is important, and that 48% want to be connected by 2025. All those fleets will be looking to launch a single harmonised data solution for their global operations. A powerpoint slogan promised that “safety, sustainability and savings can all be controlled by the right foot of your drivers”, but in reality, the proposition is a bit more complex than that sounds. 

Ingredients for success

“There are work councils to be taken into account, GDPR and data privacy concerns, security requirements, local driving behaviours,” Mr Duijf said. And even more factors, all often very different from country to country. “The goal must be: to simplify and harmonise,” said Ms DiAngelo. From experience, they shared four ingredients for success:

  • Partner with diversified leaders towards a harmonised strategy.

“Engage with the relevant people in your own organisation upfront. These include work councils, the legal department, and local fleet managers.”

  • Seek a global partner that can help you navigate and leverage new technology.

“There’s an ocean of data out there, so you need a partner to help you navigate.”

  • Start with a global base solution.

“Find markets where you can introduce the solution with the most impact and the least resistance, places where there’s a local urgency. Then build case studies to roll out to other markets.”

  • Move towards introducing EVs to reach sustainability goals – at your own rate.

“Some customers tell us they don’t know where to start. There are many ways to do so. Getting CEOs in EVs is a great place to start.”

Learn from the best

“The best way to learn is to learn from the best. And the best is with us today,” said conference host Steven Schoefs, Global Fleet’s editor in chief, introducing the second segment of the Global Fleet Conference’s session on how to set up winning strategies in sustainable fleet management.

This was a presentation by Jan-Hendrik Rauhut (pictured), Global Mobility Head, of Bayer, winner of the Global Fleet Manager of the Year Award at the Fleet Europe Awards last November. Mr Rauhut gave a detailed account of the impressive reorganization of Bayer’s global fleet strategy that had won him the award.

With global activities in agriculture, pharmaceuticals and consumer health, Bayer is a huge company (motto: “Health for all, hunger for none”), with a huge fleet: 27,000 cars, 40% of which in Europe. At present, about 10% globally are EVs. The goal for 2029 is to lower emissions by 42%.

Ready for sustainability

When he started his reorganization in 2020, Mr Rauhut’s main goal was not sustainability per se, but to reposition Bayer’s global fleet so it would be ready for strategic changes, including sustainability. For the multinational’s fleet wasn’t just huge, but also fractured, operationally. 

Following the transformation, the leasing rate has increased from 40% to 96%, and the number of lessors has decreased from 25 to just 4. Preferred OEM usage has risen from 40% to 70%. 

Harmonisation, streamlining, clarity: this is what enables Mr Rauhut to now make a concerted move towards sustainability. Based on EV readiness, fleet countries are categorized as ‘green’, ‘amber’ and ‘red’. In green countries, representing about 20% of the global fleet, all management cars must be electric – the only alternative is a cash allowance. 

More leeway

There is a bit more leeway for sales and pool cars. In red countries, the choice is between ICEs or cash allowances. In amber countries, representing 40% of the global fleet, EVs are used where appropriate. 

All EVs are BEVs, by the way. Why? “We noticed that only up to 15% of PHEV drivers regularly charged their vehicles. And our CEO is strongly in favour of full-electric cars, so those two consideration came together neatly,” said Mr Rauhut. 

Closing this session, David Brazzell (Channel Sales Director EMEA, Lytx) and Martin Rojas (Senior Adviser for the Americas, International Road Transport Union) held an illuminating presentation establishing the link between safety and sustainability. 

Safety = sustainability

“Safety is sustainability”, said Mr Brazell: “they’re both about conserving resources. Environmental resources in one case, human resources in the other.” And there’s plenty of work yet to be done on the safety front. Each year, 1.3 million people die in traffic accidents. In more than 85% of cases, human error is to blame. “The number one cause is cell phone use,” Mr Brazell said. 

Accidents have a human cost, but also an economic one, Mr Rojas pointed out: “Road traffic accidents cost most countries more than 3% of their GDP. In Europe alone, the cost of road accidents per year amounts to around €210 million.” Faced with the huge human and economic toll, it’s no surprise companies invest heavily in accident mitigation technology. “A study in 2016 showed the total amount invested in non-mandated safety systems in the U.S. in one year was $9.5 billion. This includes on-board technologies and driver training.”

Lytx, which offers video telematics solutions, thinks the time is right for what Mr Brazell calls a “global video revolution. We’re on a mission to create safer roads through a platform of industry-leading video telematics, safety, security and productivity solutions for fleets of all sizes.” And of course, safer fleets also means: more sustainable fleets. 

Image: Benjamin Brolet

Authored by: Frank Jacobs