Despite a majority of fleet decision-makers facing reduced business levels in the wake of COVID-19, the effects of the pandemic have done little to slow the consideration and adoption of mobility technologies, according to Escalent's 2021 Fleet Technology Index.
Further, fleet decision-makers show an increased confidence in market readiness for adoption of new and emerging technologies this year compared with 2020, including data analytics, battery electric vehicles (BEVs), telematics services, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, drones, mobility services and blockchain.
"Fleet leaders continued to explore and incorporate new technologies into their operations in spite of incredible headwinds during 2020," said Michael Schmall, Automotive & Mobility VP at Escalent. "As business returns to some normalcy in 2021, decision-makers see great opportunities to invest in fleet modernization in order to increase long-term profitability."
Fleet operators are bullish on three key technologies, each of which are expected to reach significant penetration within the next three years:
■ BEVs: 16% have adopted and 44% are considering.
■ Data analytics: 24% have adopted and 35% are considering.
■ Telematics: 17% have adopted and 33% are considering.
Consideration for these technologies is accelerating: compared to 2020 results, fleet business stakeholders made clear their intentions about their likelihood to invest in BEVs (+30%), data analytics (+28%) and telematics (+21%) in 2021 (by percentage-point increases).
As these tech-centric products and services spread further within the market, we will find a rapidly increasing number of decision-makers joining this trend in search of lower total cost of ownership and better margins.
Product manufacturers and service providers will play a significant role in sustaining this strong, positive momentum. Specifically, vehicle manufacturers need to internalize the paradigm shift of driving revenue by offering services as an extension and enhancement to vehicle features and content.
Escalent says both product manufacturers and service providers will need to become truly collaborative partners with their fleet customers — using their unique distribution channels to offer technology education and training, provide low-risk pilot test opportunities and maintain open-door customer feedback mechanisms.