One of the keys to successful fleet management is making smart decisions when buying new fleet vehicles. It’s important to weigh the most critical factors for this major investment, including the intended use of the vehicle, the routes the vehicle will travel, maintenance issues associated with the vehicle and choosing the right ADAS features, especially those with the best performance ratings, can reduce the chance of crashes.
Making the right choice when purchasing a new fleet vehicle can maximize the efficiency and profitability of a commercial fleet. It’s a complex process. However, because of the impact of a fleet on overall business success, it’s an area where fleet managers should focus a great deal of attention.
Factors to Consider When Purchasing New Fleet Vehicles
The performance of new fleet vehicles directly impacts the bottom line. By keeping the following factors in mind, fleet managers can make data-driven decisions that improve performance over the long haul.
Intended Use of Vehicles
Before any other consideration, it’s important to know the exact purpose of the fleet vehicles you want to buy. You want to match the vehicle to the job. Once you’ve made that decisions, it influences the choices in a handful of areas.
Vehicle size. You’ll need a vehicle with the right size and capacity to handle the required loads.
Routing. You’ll need to know the intended routes for the vehicles and the type of roads they will be on - rural highways vs. interstate, for example, or driving through heavily populated urban areas.
Distance. Distance requirements impact vehicle type. The requirements for a long haul vehicle are much different than those for vehicles intended for frequent, short trips in urban areas.
Cargo. You’ll need a vehicle with the capacity to carry the size of loads you have in mind. Those can include machinery, liquids, medical supplies, retail goods and even people.
“Must Have” Vehicle Specs
Regardless of the type of cargo, planned routes and distances, vehicles should have certain “must have” specifications that will optimize fleet performance. A list of those features should include the following.
ADAS features. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems can greatly reduce the chance of major crashes, no matter how you plan to use the vehicle. Keeping fleet drivers safe is a high priority for all fleet managers. They do well to check out the safety ratings of the trucks and the presence of these important systems.
ADAS training. It’s important to note that the positive impact of the systems is much greater when fleets give drivers ADAS training. Training on the proper use of these systems reduces the chance of ADAS-related crashes. It also provides many benefits, including increased employee confidence, safety, reduced insurance rates, and more.
Vehicle organization. Certain fleet vehicle accessories can improve how well they work in your system. They include additions such as partition walls, van shelving, hooks, drawers, and ladder racks.
Maintenance of Vehicle
Fleet managers should check the maintenance history of each vehicle they consider. That includes the vehicle’s track record for fuel consumption and endurance, as well as costs for replacement parts.
Research each vehicle and find out maintenance performance as well as maintenance requirements. That ensures you have the right tools to handle maintenance (such as when transitioning a fleet from combustion engine vehicles to electric).
Include Employees in the Process
Making smart decisions on vehicle purchases, especially those that emphasize driver safety, can go a long way to attracting and retaining the best drivers. Toward that end, involving drivers in the process can prove helpful. Their expert opinion on operation on the vehicles is another good source of information as you move toward making your choice.
Assessing the Cost
As with all business purchases, there’s a line that balances prudent spending of cash with buying the best possible vehicles. Spend too little and you may pay on the backend with endless maintenance issues. You may also end up with driver-related problems if you skip out on training. Spend too much and you find yourself overly leveraged for a level of vehicle you don’t really need. The best course is to take all the above factors into consideration, determine a reasonable price based on market conditions to reach your goals in each area, and then stick with the plan.
Selection of the right kind of fleet vehicles makes a significant impact on the fleet risk management, efficiency and profitability. By keeping these factors in mind, fleet managers can improve their operation by making the right vehicle choices.