Fleet companies are shifting back to growth mode after slowing strategic investments into new fleet technologies to weather the past few years of pandemic-induced challenges, supply chain constraints and economic uncertainty, according to a new report from Escalent, a top data analytics and advisory firm.
From 2020 to 2023, there’s been an overall 27% increase in Escalent’s Fleet Technology Index (FTI) score trend, indicating a marked increase in the perceived value of, and market readiness for, eight key fleet technologies. Core technologies—data analytics, telematics, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and autonomous vehicles (AVs)—have collectively increased FTI scores by 33% since 2020, and emerging technologies—artificial intelligence (AI), drones, mobility services and blockchain—have increased by 16% in the same time frame. Altogether, fleet decision-makers recognize technology is advancing quickly and realize those who do not adopt a future-oriented mindset will be left behind.
“Adoption of fleet technologies is certainly still at its infancy stages, but our research shows businesses are headed in the right direction for broader integration in fleets,” said Lucas Lowden, insights consultant and program lead of Fleet Advisory Hub™ at Escalent. “Fleet decision-makers are beginning to transition from survival mode, which came with lingering implications of the pandemic, to a growth stage—focusing on the ongoing evolution of technologies and seeking areas for putting them to use in business.”
Those are the latest findings from Fleet Advisory Hub™, a leading insights tool designed to explore the needs, expectations and emotions of commercial vehicle and fleet decision-makers. The program, developed in 2019 by Escalent, offers an annual snapshot of the state of emerging technologies among commercial vehicle and fleet businesses through its flagship Fleet Technology Index report. For each technology, the FTI provides an analytically based sense of market readiness and expectation for adoption, taking into consideration the perceptions of the current business environment and several predictive factors.
Adoption and shopping for core technologies—critical metrics within the FTI scores—are up year-over-year, with more than half of companies reporting they are gathering information or conducting a cost analysis. The proportion of companies that are walking away from data analytics, telematics and BEVs has declined from 2022 to 2023, reinforcing the industry’s commitment to these technologies.
The excitement of an autonomous future may be waning, as autonomy today remains most commonly recognized through advanced driver assistance systems and 46% of decision-makers said they still need to see full autonomous vehicle technology proven in real-world settings to earn their trust. Conversely, the momentum for AI technology in fleets continues surging, increasing 24% from 2020, and a business intention to invest seeing a 39% increase year-over-year compared with 2022.
“As products and services become more commoditized, it will be increasingly important for product manufacturers and service providers to differentiate offerings within the commercial vehicle and fleet sector,” added Lowden. “Creating diversity in products and services begins with communicating the incremental value these assets bring to a company. Providers who do this successfully will emerge as the leaders.”
Fleet Advisory Hub is one of the largest collections of commercial vehicle and fleet decision-maker insights available on the market today. Currently, nearly 12,000 fleets collectively numbering more than one million vehicles are represented.
To learn more about the study, visit escalent.co.
The results reported come from Escalent’s 2023 FTI report about the current state of market readiness for adoption of core and emerging technologies by commercial vehicle and fleet businesses, and comprise a subset of commercial vehicle and fleet decision-makers drawn from the Fleet Advisory Hub audience. Participants were recruited from an opt-in online panel of business decision-makers and interviewed online. Escalent will supply the exact wording of any survey question upon request.