Government Fleet Market Trends

Market Trends offers insightful examinations of current fleet industry trends and developments, emphasizing practical, real-world impacts and applications for the professional fleet manager. In addition to zeroing in on today’s fleet realities, Market Trends also provides a “peak over the horizon,” looking to the future to identify emerging issues and trends that will affect and influence fleet management in the near and long term.

Think You Run a Cost-Effective Fleet Operation? Prove It

You may think you manage a well-run fleet, but how do you really know unless you have objective data to prove it? When you know your "numbers," you substantially increase the likelihood of successfully presenting the fleet position to the user departments, policy makers, and politicians. In addition, metrics help educate user departments having a financially adverse impact on fleet operations, and bring these inefficient practices to the attention of management in a non-accusatory format.

Not Covered by FMCSA Regs? Think Again

Many government fleet managers will say they are exempt from Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) regulations governing truck weight limits and other safety regulations. This is definitely true for emergency vehicles, snow and ice control equipment, or other public safety applications. However, government fleets are not exempt from operating a safe vehicle as defined by FMCSA regs.

The Forecast Is for Higher Tire Prices in 2012

The multiple price increases for replacement tires occurring year-to-date for calendar-year 2011 point to more increases on the horizon. Most tire industry experts foresee tire price hikes continuing for the balance of this calendar-year, with expectations of another round of pricing increases in calendar-year 2012. There are a variety of factors that will influence future tire price.

Celebrating ‘Green’ Successes

Public sector fleets want to be environmentally friendly, but are often hamstrung trying to balance contradicting political, environmental, and financial issues when procuring green vehicles. At the upcoming 2011 Green Fleet Conference, we will announce our 40 Sustainability All-Stars, who prove that where there is a will, there is way to green your fleet, despite the obstacles.

Everything Fleet Does Revolves Around Money: The Problem is the Lack of It

Every function of a fleet operation is centered on money: acquisition of vehicles/equipment, fuel, maintenance, facilities, salaries, parts inventory, shop supplies, tools, etc. As we all know, the No. 1 problem today (and for the foreseeable future) is the lack of money due to depressed sales and property tax revenues. In an era of belt tightening, there are a number of unintended consequences of efforts to stem budgetary shortfalls.

Message to Management: Listen to Your Fleet Manager

Many fleet managers are under-appreciated by user groups, senior management, and elected officials. Sometimes, the fleet manager is at fault because he or she does a poor job of promoting themselves and their department to management. When money is scarce and budgets are tight or need to be cut, fleet managers quickly find themselves on the radar screen of elected officials, the local news media, and taxpayer watchdog groups. How do you prove you are doing a good job?

The Value of Creating a Fleet Advisory Board

What do the cities of Santa Rosa, Calif.; Castle Rock, Colo.; and Sacramento, Calif., have in common? All of them successfully employ fleet advisory boards. The key reason fleet advisory boards are successful is because they offer customers/users a say in managing the fleet. In addition, a fleet advisory board, by its very nature, institutionalizes ongoing communication and helps increase customer understanding of the constraints and challenges facing fleet operations.

You’re Only as Good as Your Staff

The primary job of a public sector fleet manager is managing assets and the services provided to user departments. However, as every fleet manager can attest, as much as 60 percent of the work week is consumed by personnel management. In many respects, people management (staff and interdepartmental) is harder than asset management.

Be Part of the Solution, Not Part of the Problem

With the decline in tax revenues, public sector fleets are increasingly scrutinized by management, politicians, and taxpayers. At one time, there was anonymity in being a public sector fleet manager — no more. Years ago, fleet was not high on the radar screen. However, with zero-growth budgets, along with higher fuel costs, emission-reduction mandates, liability issues, and new regulations, fleet is now dead-center on the radar screen of senior management.

Maximizing Utilization as a Cost-Containment Strategy

One consequence to reduced (or non-existent) capital purchase budgets is that public sector fleets have had to extend vehicle and equipment lifecycles. Across the country, government fleets have extended lifecycles for all vehicle classes. However, achieving true cost savings involves more than just putting off expenditures in the hope your organization's fiscal situation will improve in the future; it requires eliminating costs.

Redefining Fleet Management in an Era of Zero-Growth Budgets

The forecast is that calendar-year 2011 will be a repeat of 2010 for most public sector fleets. The persistently sluggish economy promises to dominate the majority of fleet decisions in calendar-year 2011, just as it did in 2010. Public sector fleets will continue to be pressured to lower capital expenditures and reduce operating costs to compensate for tax revenue shortfalls. Here's a forecast of what to expect in 2011.

Increased Concern about Staff Burn-out

Today's workplace environment for public sector employees is the perfect storm for staff burn-out. Every public sector fleet manager is all too familiar with downsizing — doing more with (substantially) less. More and more fleet managers cite staff "burn-out" as a growing concern.

Fleet Management 101: Tell the Story

Fleet managers no longer solely "manage" their fleets, they must also manage expectations, communication, and the political realities of their local environment. The most difficult challenge a fleet manager faces is effectively communicating to elected officials the complex issues facing fleet operations. This is a fundamental, yet often neglected, responsibility necessary to be a successful fleet manager. Here's what you need to do.

Uptick in Fuel-Related Problems in Diesel Trucks

The EPA mandated the use of ULSD, effective June 1, 2006. Since then, there has been an uptick in reports of fuel-related problems, such as corrosion in storage tanks and dispensing systems, onboard vehicle fuel tank corrosion, clogged filters, and seal and gasket deterioration. What has the industry scratching its "collective head" is the chronological correlation between the uptick in fuel-related problems and the introduction of ULSD. Is there a connection between the two?

Converging Trends to Reconfigure Light-Duty Vehicle Composition of Public Sector Fleets

Multiple trends are converging that will ultimately reconfigure the future composition of light-duty fleet assets. A new era of police packages will commence with the 2012-MY. The ongoing mandates to acquire more "carbon friendly" vehicles necessitates the acquisition of more non-traditional fleet vehicles. Another converging trend is the embryonic emergence of greater numbers of EVs and PHEVs in future fleet service. The implications of these changes are far-reaching.

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