Sustainability is a word that crops up time and again, touching on every area of business strategy. That’s as it should be, as businesses that take a piecemeal attitude to sustainability will never achieve the same results as those that take a holistic approach. Nevertheless, there are some business functions in which the strategic priorities set at executive level can seem to be at odds with a business’s wider sustainability goals.
It’s the sort of dichotomy we come across all the time when interacting with the different stakeholders in a wide variety of industries and business functions. Fleet management is a perfect example, at a time when the automotive sector is undergoing what is probably the biggest period of change in its history. This affects businesses every bit as much as individuals, arguably more so.
From the outside, fleet management can seem like just another area of procurement.
Determining sustainable fleet management strategies for the long term is becoming increasingly difficult due to increased complexity both in terms of the fleets themselves and uncertainty over factors such as government taxation strategies.
The net result is that fleet management is becoming something of a moving target, with policies needing to be constantly adjusted and refined. It means that the whole function needs more expertise and management time than it did 10 or 20 years ago. This is something that is not always clear to executive decision makers, who simply want their fleet managers to find the cheapest way to meet short-term fleet management needs, without paying sufficient regard to medium to long term sustainability considerations.
Sustainable fleet management
Incorporating sustainability goals into fleet management involves more than simply switching a fleet across from conventional petrol and diesel vehicles to EVs and hybrids, although that might certainly be an important area to consider. But in developing a sustainable fleet management strategy, organisations look to also reduce environmental impact through such areas as fuel-efficient driving, reducing traffic congestion and other considerations.
Get it right, and it also contributes to meeting other strategic goals in areas such as corporate social responsibility, employee health and safety, overall business efficiency and so on.
Knowledge is power
There are more factors today than ever before that need to be weighed and balanced when making fleet management decisions. These include new vehicle technology, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions, types of powertrains and WLTP results to name just a few. At the same time, the opinions of those employees who might spend hours behind the wheel every day cannot be disregarded, so vehicle appeal and driver experience, as well as benefit-in-kind tax implications are as important today as they have ever been.
Market research in the automotive sector draws these diverse strands together and delivers insights to help business leaders and to craft a fleet management strategy that will be cost-effective while not being at odds with the organisation’s broader sustainability aspirations – and that will ensure those who are quite literally in the driving seat have their voices heard and their needs met.