Will fleet managers become mobility architects?
Mobility is one of the buzzwords around the fleet sector at the moment, with predictions of current fleet operations within businesses gradually morphing into flexible transport functions by embracing a whole raft of new technologies based around the concept of mobility-as-a-service (MaaS).
As with many buzzwords, what one person means by its use can be very different from another. For some, mobility is simply a corporate effort to use trains and taxis more often while for others, it represents the promise of an interconnected, technologically-enabled MaaS future. Within these extremes lie a whole host of interesting ideas including car sharing, ride sharing, car clubs, various subscription models and apps that cover everything from taxi rides to plane journeys.
At the moment, it is fair to say that many of these ideas remain relatively marginal and corporate usage is often limited. For example, Daimler and BMW have just ended a joint venture car sharing programme that was launched in the US and Europe because of lack of profitability.* However, there remain credible forecasts that promise a highly vibrant market in the medium-long term, with prospects of £347BN worldwide sales by 2024.**
So where does this leave fleet managers who would like to take advantage of mobility services in a productive manner today? A sensible first step is to create an analysis of the journeys your staff need to make and how they are currently meeting that requirement, including factors such as the locations, the time taken and the overall cost. Then, you have a baseline from which to look at the range of mobility services currently available and whether they can be successfully substituted for existing transport.
The current hurdles that most businesses seem to encounter with mobility are threefold. One is that the services are largely urban-focussed. Move outside of major cities and they either disappear or their effectiveness is much reduced. The second is that company cars and vans are good at multi-site journeys and these can be difficult to replicate through MaaS. Finally, there is the cost, which often doesn’t compare well to traditional fleet.
One idea that has gained some traction, especially on the continent, is the idea of providing employees with a mobility budget. They are given an amount of money to cover their transport needs every month, but how that is spent is left up to them within certain parameters. This could be something that works for at least some of your employees.
Does all of this mean that fleet managers will, in time, become mobility architects? Our belief is that, for the foreseeable future, business transport for the most will remain centred on traditional fleet solutions but there will be more use of services that deliver real benefits. For example, virtually every business now makes use of Uber for the simple reason that it works.
However, the streamlined MaaS future envisaged by some probably remains at least a little distance away and it could take a step change in technology, such as the widespread use of driverless vehicles, for this to change.
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