Automotive Fleet seeks to provide a forum for different voices from the industry to discuss today’s challenges. This regular column is designed to offer fleet professionals a platform to let their voices be heard among their peers and other industry professionals.
Here is what is top of mind for fleet professionals today.
Hurricane Ian: an EV Strategy Wake-Up Call
First, I am not an EV “denier;” instead I’m a cautionary critic as could be derived by my AF guest editorial entitled “Flavor of the Decade.”
Mike [AF editor Mike Antich], you may recall that I’m the only government fleet manager who has experienced three hurricanes in eight weeks (2004, Charlie, Francis, Gene). As I look at the path of Ian (September 2022), it’s track is eerily similar to Charlie that bisected my AO in Polk County. Fla., as Ian’s likely will. Thousands of residents are “bugging out” as they should, but I can’t help wondering how that mass of evacuating vehicles on I-4, I-75 and I-95 would look if even 25% of those were EVs.
How far out of harm’s way could they get? How many hours would they have to wait for a recharge enroute, even if the population of charging stations tripled in Florida. Could the electric transfer grid, while collapsing under storm surge and high winds, support the charging network and for how long? How would EVs get recharged if the local grid took days or weeks to recover?
After 2004, some folks didn’t get power for a couple of weeks or more; I had one employee who waited 42 days! Further, if ambulances, fire trucks or police vehicles were EVs, how could they be supported and recharged? Even generators require fuel. Could a lack of electric power compromise response times to emergencies?
The petroleum supply network on Florida’s west coast is primarily water-borne, coming across the Gulf of Mexico by ship or barge to the Tampa or Bradenton ports. Those ports are currently shut down [at that time] but will likely reopen on Sunday restoring fuel supply shipments to service stations. It’s unlikely that electric power will be restored that quickly. Yes, owning a Ford Lightning will power your home, but for how long? This storm should be a wakeup call for EV strategists.
One thing of which I’m most proud from that time is that we gave all our techs CPR training and certification. After Charlie, we established a temporary refueling station at a shopping mall to assist interagency support (electric companies, law enforcement) using the mall as a staging area. One night, a Citrus County deputy, while refueling his patrol car, collapsed with a heart attack. Two of my techs, using CPR, kept him alive until help arrived. I didn’t even hear about it for three days as they thought it was no big deal. We made it a big deal afterwards though.
— Bob Stanton CPM, CPFP Fleet Management Consultant, Roswell, Georgia
Strict PM Compliance
Check out the 115th episode of the State of the Fleet Industry that examines the ongoing vehicle parts shortages, which have driven up prices by 20-30% in many cases. In this environment where it’s not easy to procure new vehicles, staying strict on your routine maintenance schedules will pay dividends in both moderating repair costs and mitigating downtime.
— John Suwalski, Client Strategy Manager, Enterprise Fleet Management, Chicago, Illinois
Undue Cost to the Innocent
I read the news item, “NTSB Pushes for Mandatory Alcohol Impairment Systems in New Cars” and want to make an observation. I fully understand the need to reduce and or eliminate drunk driving, there is no excuse for this, but now another government agency is mandating an additional cost to me when I’ve never driven while impaired a day in my life. These systems cost a lot of money and only add to the further escalating cost of new vehicles. There are other ways to curb this issue without undue cost to the innocent.
— Mark Stinson Fleet Manager, City of Lee’s Summit Lee’s Summit, Missouri
One World Fleet Management
After watching the State of the Fleet Industry video entitled “Fleet Industry Consolidation Will Accelerate Industry Transformation,” forget the one world government; ultimately, we’ll have one-world fleet management. Fleet operators will own nothing and be happy.
— Keith McLaughlin, President Fleet Business Communications, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Hunger to be a Fleet Player
Thanks for yet another insightful look at the fleet industry with your State of the Fleet Industry video series, specifically with respect to the changing landscape brought on by mergers and acquisitions. (See Episode 106, “Fleet Industry Consolidation Will Accelerate Industry Transformation”).
It’s quite remarkable that four of the seven major FMCs have had ownership or control changes recently. I am impressed by what the Singer family has done with Merchants and how Merchant’s 11 executives will remain co-owners and remain in current management roles. That type of change is likely great for Merchants employees and their clients.
As I understand it, some of the other consolidation in the fleet industry has resulted in disparate technology platforms, philosophies, and core values needing to be mashed together in what all hope will be a positive outcome for the employees that remain and the clients of the legacy companies.
As a business owner of a SaaS company in the fleet space, I see the number of inquiries about acquisition ramping up significantly over the past eight months. There’s clearly a hunger for new players to enter the “fleet game” and for existing companies to incorporate the best-of-the-best into their offering through acquisition. Interesting times!
— Ed Smith, President & CEO, Agile Fleet, Chantilly, Virginia
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