22 Apr 20

COVID-19: Don’t get distracted Latin America, protect your fleet

Although COVID-19 seems to have reached its peak in many other countries around the world, the cycle of the virus is a few weeks behind in Latin America and this calls for local fleet managers to prepare themselves with crucial management strategies.

Besides using appropriate face masks and gloves, thoroughly washing hands and using disinfectant spray or wipes on vehicle door handles, dashboards, seats and any exposed surfaces, one thing fleet operators need to be prepared for is a contingency plan to reduce the possibility of theft in their fleet.

Although other types of crime have dropped on city streets, vehicle theft has increased in many cities as lockdown periods leave many offices, factories and construction sites with unattended vehicles. For instance, New York City saw a 57% increase in car, motorcycle and moped thefts from 16 March to 14 April, according to NYPD data.

Although much of Latin America is already in full or partial lockdown, it will be months before mobility returns to normality. Do not get distracted by concerns of the virus by not taking the necessary steps to protect your fleet. Unfortunately, there are thieves taking advantage of the crisis and you must be prepared for this. 

One way to do this is to utilize telematics and other security technologies. Besides using small covert wireless devices with movement and tamper alarms in parking facilities, install GPS security devices that detect and track unautorized movement, including those fitted to assets with theft recovery trackers. 

Although thefts may occur, the objective is to recover your vehicles as quickly and efficiently as possible. Among the companies providing vehicle theft prevention and recovery products and services in Latin America are Galooli, Geotab, Golsat, Ituran, MiX Telematics, Pointer, Teletrac Navman, and Webfleet Solutions. 

COVID-19 scenario, Latin America

Regarding contingency measures to control the spread of the virus in Latin America, some countries started nation-wide lockdowns in March while others implemented partial quarantine periods. While larger countries calling for national closures include Argentina, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador, those starting partial lockdowns in March were Brazil and Mexico. 

Lockdown scenario in Latin America and Caribbean at end March, 2020. (source: IDB)


Be aware that partial lockdowns could mean that major economic hubs (e.g. São Paulo) are in quarantine despite federal sentiment. Also keep in mind that lockdowns are not handled the same way in every country. Most allow essential services to remain operational but this can be defined differently from city to city.

Moreover, while a vast majority of the population remain indoors in some cities, quarantine measures may not be enforced strictly in other cities and this results in less people actually staying home.  

In terms of COVID-19 cases in the largest countries as of Monday (20 April), Brazil has 40,743 (2,587 deaths and 22,130 recoveries), Mexico 8,261 (686 deaths and 2,627 recoveries), Argentina 3,031 (142 deaths and 737 recoveries), Colombia 3,977 (189 deaths and 804 recoveries), and Peru 16,325 (445 deaths and 6,968 recoveries).

Fleet LatAm is publishing a monthly issue of the Fleet LatAm Expert Insights, a comprehensive analysis document you can download to stay up to speed about vehicle fleet management in Latin America. This exclusive content is written by leading experts from the field. All Fleet LatAm Expert Insights will be available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

The first issue, 'How to tender your leasing contracts in Latin America', is now available to download. The next issue addresses fleet management in times of COVID-19 and will be available in May.

Authored by: Daniel Bland