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Rachael Plant

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Dec 12, 2023

9 minute read

Fleet Management Blog

2024 Fleet Industry Trends

This year, we’re doing things a little differently. We’re taking a look back at fleet industry trends predicted for 2023 to see what came to pass, as well as what missed the mark and why. With a better understanding of how 2023 panned out, we’ll take a more nuanced look at what to expect in 2024.

2024 Fleet Industry Trends

It’s that time of year, again. Holiday lights shining, decorations galore, the crippling anxiety of hosting or cooking or holiday shopping… and everyone’s secret favorite: endless lists of 2024 fleet industry trends to watch for. Toward the end of every year, industry experts make predictions for the coming years’ trends based largely on markets related to the industry — and the global market as a whole.

While these lists can be a good indicator of what to expect in the fleet industry in 2024 (or whichever year), it helps to understand the difference between flexible and steady trends and how each is affected by outside factors. Trends heavily influenced by economic and policy pressure, for instance, are flexible trends and tend to be more volatile. On the other hand, steady trends typically concern third-party offerings used by the industry, but which the industry doesn’t rely on to continue running. These are things like cloud-based fleet management software (FMS) and other digital solutions versus replacement parts, which are essential.

By knowing how to identify flexible versus steady trends and by what conditions they are impacted, you can more accurately predict future trends. With that in mind, let’s take a look back at some of our 2023 trends and see how those predictions panned out.

In this Article

2023 Retrospective

We had a respectable trend line-up in 2023, some of which came to pass, some remain on-going and some… fizzled. We predicted an increase in in-person trade shows, which turned out to be pretty accurate. Fleetio alone attended 14 events in 2023 versus three in 2022. Likewise, our prediction of increased fleet electrification was pretty well on. The share of new electric vehicle (EV) car sales “exceeded 7% for the first half of the year, speeding past a critical tipping point for mass adoption,” according to Tom Randoll with Bloomberg. “It took 10 years for the U.S. to sell its first million fully electric vehicles, two years to reach the second million, and just over a year to reach the third. By the time the latest quarter’s figures are tallied up [...] the country should be well on its way to a fourth."

Whether or not fleet data availability improved, as predicted, is hard to say; however there is a wider pool of data collection solutions to choose from and fleet management market trends indicate there is a need. “Adoption and shopping for core [fleet] technologies [...] are up year-over-year, with more than half of companies reporting they are gathering information or conducting a cost analysis,” according to data analytics and advisory firm, Escalent. “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.”

Vehicle supply chain obstacles was another prediction we had for 2023, and while obstacles do persist, “The annual pace of new-car sales likely rose to 15.6 million in June [2023], from 13 million a year ago, according to the average forecast of seven market researchers,” writes Gabrielle Coppola, Bloomberg. Conversely, “Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting at AutoForecast Solutions, told reporters that he believes the industry will see 2-3 million units cut from production in 2023,” according to Automoblog. “This figure highlights the continued production difficulties that manufacturers face. However, if Fiorani’s estimate holds true, it would mark a significant improvement for the industry.” While vehicle supply chain obstacles will likely continue — if not worsen — in 2024, 2023 did see a slight reprieve, leading to increased sales before the UAW strike. Now actual delivery of those sales? We’ll likely have to wait until next year to get that data.

Our prediction of improved operational cost in the trucking industry did come to pass — in relation to 2022. “After an extended period of cost increases, the combined parts and labor costs for the top 25 VMRS codes fell 1.3% in the second quarter from the first. Labor costs decreased for the first time in the past year and parts costs were down for the second quarter in a row,” according to American Trucking Associations (ATA). “On a year-over-year basis, from combined parts and labor[,] costs rose only 5.57% in the second quarter of this year compared with the same period last year – which is far slower than the 15% increase in costs seen [in] 2022.”

We’re not always right, though. For instance, when it comes to our prediction of more autonomous vehicles (AVs) on the road… well, let’s just say there’ll be at least 950 less on the road this year, and keep it at that.

All the trends mentioned for 2023, with the exception of fleet data availability, are flexible trends. Although we did see an upswing throughout the first half of the year in terms of vehicle sales, improved operational costs for trucking and EV adoption, we’re already feeling the effects of the Israel-Hamas war that broke out in October. You can make an educated guess about how the conflict will impact those things going into 2024.

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This year, instead of fleet industry or fleet management trends, we’re looking at global trends broadly and how those trends could affect the fleet industry.

1. Economic Instability

It should be safe to say that there’s a lot of global turmoil presently, and the economic impacts of that have been felt by people across nation, class, religion and creed. Many countries are battling inflation, and the word “recession” is quickly climbing the lexiconic ladder of popularity with sticking power for the first time since ’08.

Some economists are saying the U.S. could avoid a recession next year with another interest rate hike. “The Federal Reserve has raised its main interest rate above 5.25% to the highest level since early in the millennium, up from virtually zero early last year,” according to The Free Press. “High rates work to slow inflation by making borrowing more expensive and hurting prices for stocks and other investments. The combination typically slows spending and starves inflation of its fuel.” If this is the route they decide to take, then we may still be in a recession in all but name.

Fiscal spending could also decelerate at both the state and federal levels, which could directly affect government fleets. It could also affect fleets, and businesses in general, through the cutting of spending for certain government-funded initiatives, something California is trying to navigate now: “A report the [California] Legislative Analyst’s Office released on Thursday showed a tax revenue shortfall has created a ‘serious budget deficit’ for the 2024-2025 fiscal year,” according to The Modesto Bee. This could prompt cuts to major initiatives, such as “the hard-fought $25 health care worker minimum wage bill Newsom signed in October.”

On top of that, the U.S. is currently going through a cash circulation problem following its disruption back in 2020. This made, and is continuing to make, cash transactions difficult for some businesses, as frustrated customers take their business elsewhere.

Key Takeaway

All these factors add up to the likelihood of decreased consumer spending in 2024, which could impact the volume of business for fleets in many industries, including trucking, delivery and transportation.

2. No Risk, No Reward? Global Turmoil Wreaking Havoc

We’re at a point where global events are having a seriously heavy impact at home — no matter which country is home for you.

Banking Woes

The potential of central banks to tighten monetary policies in 2024 to combat recession could have global consequences. According to Economist Intelligence, “Although EIU’s baseline forecast assumes that monetary policy tightening has ended, there remains a moderate risk that inflation will re-accelerate in 2024 encouraging central banks to continue tightening well into next year. The resulting rise in interest rates could kick off a chain of events that would eventually result in a global recession.”

Escalating Wars

Concerns of the Israel-Hamas war escalating into a regional conflict has also been a growing concern for some, and would further impact the global economy. According to News Nation, “As Israel and Hamas continue to do battle in Gaza, there is growing concern the war could expand into a regional conflict. Those concerns come as there have been more than 20 attacks on U.S. forces in surrounding countries like Syria [and a] wider war may also be set off by clashes between the Israeli military and Lebanese militant groups that have been going on for the past few weeks.”

Artificial Intelligence

If artificial intelligence (AI) makes you feel more uneasy than excited, that’s not totally unfounded. Artificial intelligence can disrupt elections and undermine people’s trust in political institutions. “The emergence of AI will make people less trusting of information in general. The pollution of the information space is increasing. This reinforces the trend that is already evident today: which information in the digital space is correct is becoming more difficult to identify,” according to The New Zurich Times. “This development is dangerous. Trust in common institutions such as science, journalism or the authorities is the foundation of liberal democracies. If every citizen can come up with their own truth, there is no common ground.”

Key Takeaway

All that said, it seems reasonable to expect consumer caution in 2024, so any steps you can take to increase trust within your community will pay dividends when it comes to the perception of your business/fleet.

3. Sustainability Policies Abound

Look, I swear I’m not picking on California, but… California has been leading the way in the U.S.’s zero emissions goals, and multiple components of its Advanced Clean Fleets regulation are set to go into effect in 2024. With zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) typically having a higher price tag, fleet managers are going to have to make strategic budgeting decisions to ensure vehicle replacement schedules don’t overlap and drive up procurement costs.

Some in the industry are concerned about these new fleet regulations and if they will end up being rolled out in other states in the near future. That concern, also, is not entirely unfounded: “[New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham] issued an executive order [on October 16, 2023] directing state agencies to transition to fully electric vehicle fleets within 12 years, though there are exceptions, such as for heavy equipment and emergency vehicles,” according to the Santa Fe New Mexican. “She plans to ask the New Mexico Legislature for 'robust' electric vehicle tax credits during the 30-day session that begins Jan. 16.”

Key Takeaway

Reserving a slice of next year’s budget to cover the upfront cost difference between procuring a ZEV and procuring an internal combustion engine vehicle would not be the worst idea.

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About the Author

Rachael Plant

Rachael Plant

Senior Content Marketing Specialist

Rachael Plant is a Content Marketing Specialist at Fleetio whose automotive background spans from managing auto parts inventories to overseeing fleet-specific editorial in national trade publications. She resides deep in the middle-of-nowhere Alabama with her two dogs and, thankfully, reliable GPS.

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