2018 is set to be a year of continued evolution for our industry as new technologies and uncertainty over air quality plans and Brexit dominate the landscape. In this article we’ve compiled a list and explanations of the trends that we see shaping 2018 for the fleet manager.

Focus on air quality and emissions

Focus on air quality and emissions

Part of the narrative of 2017 was that of poor air quality.

Diesel vehicles has garnered a lot of negative media attention here due to the NOx emissions they produce and, after repeated legal suits, the Government finally announced their plan for improving air quality, which put most of the onus on local councils, without any formal framework.

With London taking the lead on vehicle charging zones, this has created uncertainty as to how different councils will tackle air quality in their regions, though we expect some of these arrangements to be announced in 2018.

This uncertainty combined with the demonization of diesel are contributing factors to the fall in new car sales and diesel registrations in 2017, and a rise in national CO2 levels as drivers shy away from diesel in the retail market.

In 2018, it is expected that this uncertainty will guide drivers to renting or leasing a vehicle until a resolution becomes clearer. We expect diesel to remain the fleet fuel of choice as they are more fuel and cost efficient to run, and the latest diesels are cleaner due to improved technology in the vehicles. We also expect the numbers of hybrids and electric vehicles (EVs) to increase, though until the UK’s charging network infrastructure is expanded and the range concerns of EVs alleviated, we do not expect them to enter the mainstream, neither do we see viable electric commercial vehicles on the market that fulfils the need of fleets.

We will also see the demand for fleet consultants increase as fleet managers try to navigate an increasingly complex product range, and try and balance the misinformation in the media to find the right vehicle for the job.

Continued move to digitalisation

Focus on air quality and emissions

As new technologies continue to be implemented, understood and evolve, services and systems will continue to be digitised, so long as they simplify processes and operations for the fleet manager.

We will see a rise in self-service systems and improvement in driver communication and support services through the use of smartphone apps, as well as an increase in use of dashcams and telematics.

One of the big questions around next-generation vehicles is that of connectivity and data ownership, complicated by GDPR compliance and data usage. Our partners at the BVRLA state that ‘2018 will be a year of connected consolidation’ and they see an ‘an increasing[ly] complex challenge in specifying and managing vehicles with a huge variety of connected attributes and services.’ Whether more answers around data ownership will transpire in 2018 remains to be seen, but more clarity is certainly required.

Other emergent technologies surround the concept of ‘Mobility as a Service’ – using technology to find the best form of mobility to use. This links heavily with vehicle usage rather than vehicle ownership, and includes car clubs and app-based car rental, as well as an array of new start-ups seeking first mover advantage. Whilst we don’t envisage MaaS taking off in 2018, a range of new services will launch and we will cover MaaS in more detail later in the year.

Personal Leasing

We see Personal Leasing as a rising star in a leasing companies product portfolio and with many firms offering cash allowances and PCP under the spotlight amid concerns about the way the product is sold, Personal Contract Hire will continue to grow due to its convenience and cost-effectiveness.

Conclusion

Along with our partners at the BVRLA, the above are the key trends we see emerging within the industry in 2018. The continued emergence of new technologies, funding types and uncertainty over air quality and fuel types are challenges every fleet will need to deal with. Of course, this doesn’t cover Brexit and what effect that will have business and vehicle manufacturers, which requires more information to become apparent before we can speculate on what impact this will have.

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