Many professional fleet managers will readily tell you that the effectiveness of your fleet management strategies is directly dependent on the quality and appropriateness of your vehicles.
It therefore goes without any gainsaying that regardless of the types of vehicles in your fleet, selecting the right vehicles for your different job applications is critical to meeting your business goals.
Selecting the right vehicles
The considerations that go into vehicle selection are intricate and have far-reaching impact on fleet costs and effectiveness.
Acquisition cost is one factor, but the price of the vehicle is just the beginning.
When selecting fleet vehicles, you should also consider the following:
APPLICATION – What is the specific job application of the vehicle? Under what conditions will the vehicle be used? What equipment should these vehicles contain so your employees can best perform their jobs?
OPERATING COSTS – How much will it cost you to operate the vehicle over its lifetime?
RESALE VALUE – How well will the vehicles you’re selecting maintain their resale value?
FLEET APPROPRIATENESS – Does the vehicle manufacturer have an active fleet program that offers competitive fleet incentives?
PAYLOAD – What will the vehicle carry? Can the vehicle handle this payload safely over time? Is extra up-fitting required? What about licensing and regulatory compliance requirement-how sustainable are they?
LEAD TIME – Are the vehicles you are considering readily available? Are you buying locally or sourcing from abroad? If locally, what is the quality of aftersales services and how readily available are the critical spares? If importing, have you considered forex availability and source? If the OEM is producing to your exact specifications, is the completion/delivery schedule in alignment with your deployment schedule?
SAFETY – What is your organization’s risk appetite? How will you equip your fleet for driver safety?
IMAGE – How will your vehicles represent your company, both to the public and for recruitment purposes?
OPTIONS – What flexibility will you allow for your employees to add options and equipment?
ALTERNATIVE FUEL VEHICLES – Are they right for your fleet? Consider work application, type of driving, life cycle costs, fueling infrastructure.
Additional considerations for selecting the right trucks:
SPECIFICATIONS – Proper specification of the vehicle is critical to how it performs.
UP-FITTING COMPLIANCE – Be sure your upfitting requirements comply with federal, State and Local requirements.
LIFECYCLE – Trucks typically have a longer lifecycle than passenger cars. Project your truck requirements with the next 5-10 years in mind.
DRIVERS – Do your employees have the proper licenses to drive the trucks you’re considering? Will your drivers require additional training for proper vehicle handling? Should you consider trucks with automatic transmissions, easier entry, lower ride, etc.?
LOCATION AND TERRAIN – On what kinds of terrain and in what climate conditions will the truck operate? Does it operate mostly in stop-and-go driving, or long distance/over-the-road?
JOB APPLICATIONS (NOW AND FUTURE) – Will your trucks be used the same way five years from now?
TECHNOLOGY – Telematics, in-vehicle computers and hands-free technology are becoming more prevalent. Determine if these kinds of tools are appropriate for your fleet.
ENGINE – Consider your fuel options: Gas, diesel or hybrid? Also consider purchase and maintenance costs, as well as resale implications of different types of engines.