Process & Procedures: Happy Times Here Again?

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Chris Hill. Credit: Jack Kazmierski

As things “normalize,” Chris ponders what this means for fleet managers.

I read an article recently that something called the World Happiness Report has calculated that Canadians have dropped from 6th to 15th place among the happiest people in the world. Americans have dropped too, from 15th to 23rd.

Fleet ordering has improved significantly over the last several months. Credit: General Motors



I don’t think this includes fleet managers. I am sure I am not alone in noticing that the incredible upward spiral in new vehicle prices has come to a stop. Fleet concessions that disappeared three years ago are coming back. Even electric vehicles, which were impossible to find at Canadian dealers just a few months ago are being offered with discounts. It’s too early to say that happy times are here again, but things like this are welcome improvements for fleet managers. And dealers too.

I wrote in my last column that reports of declining EV sales was misinformation. This actually isn’t a bad thing for those of us who believe that the toothpaste is out of the tube, and we are not buying gas-powered vehicles if there is a suitable electric alternative.

Electric incentives

For fleet managers with transit buses there is already a near future where the only choice is electric. One of my concerns was that there would be no allocation of electric vehicles to dealers in those provinces that don’t offer a provincial government incentive payment on top of the federal government payment. This may have been the case until recently but there seems to be more availability now.

Another reason to be happy is the wait time from order to delivery is getting shorter. A factory order for pickup trucks a year ago took nine months or longer before the trucks showed up. Dealers are now estimating three to four months. Off-road equipment lead times are getting shorter too. Heavy trucks with special bodies are still backlogged by up to two years.

Uncertainties remain

“The new normal” is a term I hear annoyingly too often. Watching wholesale price indices is a rare use of time for fleet managers although they can be a useful guide when preparing budgets. Fuel remains a huge uncertainty and anyone’s guess as to where prices will be a year from now is as good as any other. The less you can use it, the more certain of staying on budget you will be.

Short-term rentals (month-to-month up to a year) are also higher in price this year but the increase over last year was less than the one a year before. Choice and availability are also up although one of our vendors has seen a stronger demand for smaller pickups this year compared to previous seasons.

Labour considerations

The next thing that needs to improve is the availability of labour. I have written before about how hard it has been to find qualified automotive technicians and how important it is to retain those that are now in place. This difficult situation continues to consume a lot of time and effort for fleet managers with in-house maintenance operations.

One last observation: there are more openings for fleet managers being posted than I recall seeing for a long time. This is an element the World Happiness Report overlooked.

Categories : Fleet


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