Interviews
5 mar 20

Geotab: thought leader on zero emission at 2020 Global Fleet Conference

“Don't expect a sales talk,” says Geotab's Executive Vice President Sales & Marketing Colin Sutherland (pictured). “When it comes to zero emissions, Geotab is a thought leader.” And thought leadership is what the telematics & IoT multinational will provide at the upcoming Global Fleet Conference in Rome, where it will host a Deepdive session on the road to zero emissions. 

First, the elephant in the room: the coronavirus. The Global Fleet Conference, an annual highlight for global fleet community leaders, is slated for 25-27 May in Rome. That still leaves plenty of time for the authorities (worldwide, and in northern Italy specifically) to contain and eliminate the outbreak.

At the moment, there are no reasons to cancel or postpone the event. The goal of the organisers remains for the Global Fleet Conference to take place as planned. Should the situation evolve for the worse, that position may be revised. Should the event be cancelled, each individual participant ticket will be refunded. So there’s no harm in reserving your spot right now – and here’s one good reason to do so: Geotab’s thought-provoking contribution to this year’s Global Fleet Conference.

Target Zero

In a major session, the Global Fleet Conference will deep-dive into Target Zero. Attendees can choose one of three tracks: Zero Emissions, Zero Accidents or Zero Cost. It's no coincidence that Geotab hosts the Zero Emissions track. This January, at the Geotab Connect 2020 event in San Diego, the company elevated sustainability to its new, 6th Pillar of Innovation. 

“Geotab is a private, for-profit company. But we're also serious about developing a long-term strategy for the survival of the planet,” says Mr Sutherland. “In that vision, sustainability is one of our core strategies – as is the goal of achieving zero fatalities, by the way.”

Geotab is pushing the envelope where other companies aren't – at least not to the same degree, Mr Sutherland suggests: “Nobody else is talking about this like we do. We are saying that we need electric vehicles (EVs) to be successful. Only if they become ubiquitous, do we have a chance of developing a sustainable model for mobility.”

EV profitability

Those are fighting words. And they underpin the message Geotab will bring to Rome. “We're coming to the Global Fleet Conference because there we'll meet a group of fleet industry leaders that are passionate about procuring EVs. And because we still need to educate the wider fleet community about the profitability of EVs,” says Mr Sutherland.

In particular, he points to a disconnect on EVs between business buyers of EVs and fleet managers themselves. “In particular, it's important that the fleet management community is aware that business customers are making non-traditional decisions when buying EVs. To fully understand and act on that, the fleet management community needs to enter into a dialogue with the buyers. If not, in the end the manufacturers will speak directly to the buyers – leaving out the fleet managers.”

Price parity

In short, fleet management needs to evolve. But evolving in the direction of zero emissions is not a bad thing. For one, because it's not just a concern of the more 'advanced' fleet markets: “Take India, for example. The government has announced its intention to go electric. In a few months, they will be adopting the European standards on emissions.”

And then there's the hardware itself: “By 2021, EVs will reach price parity in the US. That means they can be purchased at the same price as an internal-combustion vehicle. But on top of that, they can be maintained at one-fifth the cost. So, developing a zero-emission strategy is not just about being sustainable; it's also about being competitive.” 

Being a thought leader requires doing a lot of thinking, and in doing so, Geotab has developed a holistic approach to zero-emission strategy – expanding its focus from the zero-emission vehicle to the entire ecosystem in which it has to operate. “That means paying attention to cities and their infrastructure – in particular the EV charging infrastructure.”

Mobility bottlenecks

Together with the University of Toronto Transport Research Institute (UTTRI), Geotab is examining how city planning today can help overcome the mobility bottlenecks of tomorrow, specifically in terms of managing zero-emission mobility and infrastructure. 

Meanwhile, the road to the zero-emission future is one of incremental steps. One of which is to examine which types of vehicles in any fleet are most suited to electrification. “Of course, the trucking community doesn't yet believe that electrification is the answer to its needs. And that's not a problem. We want to ensure that the right fuel economy type of transportation is allocated to the right trip type application.”

That is a job for the data-focused telematics solutions that Geotab offers. But again, Geotab won't be delivering a sales pitch in Rome. “We want to educate everybody in the fleet community to change their way of thinking,” Mr Sutherland says. “Just one small example. We're still thinking about vehicle leases in terms of three years, 80K miles. But that's just because of the limitations of the ICE-type vehicles. EV batteries have a much longer life. Longer lease models, or other lease models, are now viable options!” 

For more information, updates and reservations for the Global Fleet Conference, click here.

Authored by: Frank Jacobs
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