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Rachael Plant

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Feb 15, 2024

8 minute read

Fleet Management Blog

What Election Year Could Mean for Fleets

Election years are a time of political flexing regardless of the party, but what might that mean for the fleet industry? In this blog, we’re diving into how the hubbub of political promises can impact both business and fleet, as well as what industries may be affected most.

What Election Year Could Mean for Fleets

Election Year Shake-up

2023 was an interesting year, to say the least, and 2024 is likely going to be a wild ride, as election years are typically a time of political flexing by both parties. This election year is coming off as one of the most contentious during a period of multiple wars that has the Doomsday Clock — a device used to represent the closeness of global catastrophic or apocalyptic events like nuclear war — sitting at 90 seconds to midnight for the second year in a row. “Last year, we expressed amplified concern by moving the clock to 90 seconds to midnight, the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been," said Rachel Bronson, CEO of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists group. "The risks from last year continue with unabated veracity and continue to shape this year.”

In addition to the purported impending doom, trust in media continues hitting new lows — not just in the U.S. — and new polls are showing similarly low trust in elections with increasing concerns of AI interference. We’re also already seeing government overstep at various levels with the feds in Texas and with states trying to overrule local decisions, making it harder for smaller businesses and those in certain regions to go unaffected.

Throughout the year, we’ll likely see candidates focusing heavily on both climate and foreign policy, each of which can have unique impacts on fleet.

Climate Policy

Climate change and related policies can be a touchy subject, but what we’ve seen so far is a great example of putting the cart before the horse. Emissions regulations and tax benefits — both on the OEM and consumer sides — have pushed electric vehicle (EV) sales in the U.S. to an all time high in 2023, but materials for EV batteries are not limitless, the U.S. is energy dependent and the country lacks the charging infrastructure to match “demand.”

We’re also getting insight into the more negative sides of EVs, including the cost of putting out an EV fire: “With the rise of electric vehicles on the road, fire departments have been faced with challenges in putting out fires, mostly caused by the lithium ion batteries that power them containing different items, such as liquid electrolyte, that can be flammable,” according to CBS 42. “The [Pine Level fire] department stated that two fire hoses were used [in an EV fire they responded to recently], putting out 36,000 gallons of water before the fire had been fully extinguished [whereas] a typical fire from a non-electric vehicle can be put out with less than 500 gallons of water.” Additionally, the department relayed that “a total of 3-Engines, 2-Rescues, 1-Ambulance, 4-Water Tankers, 1-Squad, 1-Brush Truck, and 3-Command Vehicles ultimately responded to this fire.” In addition to the substantial draw on resources, the incident also shut the interstate down, causing major delays.

Without accounting for these types of issues, rushed climate policies can be a burden on community resources, including fleets working in multiple public and private sectors. But that doesn’t stop at EVs. We’ve seen some “uh-ohs” in renewable energy off the roads, including a Nebraska solar farm crippled by hail; “The multimillion-dollar solar farm consisted of over 14,000 solar panels that had been put into operation in 2019,” according to Institute for Energy Research. “The system’s 25-year expected lifetime was cut to less than 4 years, leaving a toxic mess to clean up.” While the solar farm did have a single-axis tracker system with hail stow capabilities, it’s unclear if the system was even on and, according to Renewable Energy World, “damage to the face of the modules indicates it was not.”

Biden's Policy

As far as political flexing in this area, the current administration has focused a good deal of effort on strengthening zero-emissions goals, mainly through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). As Biden vies for reelection, his administration may continue making climate-focused decisions, which can be evidenced by his choice to “[delay] consideration of new natural gas export terminals in the United States, even as gas shipments to Europe and Asia have soared since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” according to The Associated Press. “The election year decision by President Joe Biden aligns with environmentalists who fear the huge increase in exports, in the form of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, is locking in potentially catastrophic planet-warming emissions when the Democratic president has pledged to cut climate pollution in half by 2030.”

Trump's Policy

Likely Biden’s biggest competition, Trump has made it known he’s a proponent of oil. The New York Times reported that “100 environmental rules [were] officially reversed, revoked or otherwise rolled back under Mr. Trump.” While he’s not currently in a position to impact climate policy — nor are other candidates — it is always a good idea to know their stances. A candidate who focuses on U.S. energy independence may reduce (or extend the time to comply with) green initiative projects and cutoffs.

RFK Jr.'s Policy

As Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is polling stronger than any independent since Ross Perot — and is a quite successful environmental lawyer — it’d be an oversight not to bring up his stance on climate and what could be expected under an RFK Jr. presidency. According to his campaign website, a Kennedy win could see climate policy shift toward actions like growing the regenerative farming and agriculture movement, as well as incentivizing “the transition of industry to zero-waste cycles and clean energy sources, and forge agreements with other countries to implement these policies throughout the global supply chain [and] protect wild lands from further development, by curbing mining, logging, oil drilling, and suburban sprawl.” This could mean less stringent emissions policies — a boon for fleets not yet ready to try the switch to alternative fuels — but will likely not result in a full policy overhaul.

Key Takeaway

In Biden’s bid for reelection, his administration could ramp up zero-emissions goals in line with what we’ve seen recently, which could impact fleets across multiple sectors, including trucking and logistics, utility, construction and transportation. Keep an eye on potential new policies affecting fleet infrastructure or businesses, and brush up on candidates’ climate policy proposals to get an idea of what to expect under a different administration.

Get trendy

Check out our 2023 fleet industry trend retrospective, including hits and misses, as well as what to look for this year!

Learn more

Foreign Policy

As with climate-related policy, the incumbent president has more influence than other candidates. Still, we’ll again take a look at the top three.

Trump's Policy

Despite volatile rhetoric from and around Trump, his administration did manage to avoid starting new wars during his term, though they did bomb Syria a couple of times, which shows that getting involved in foreign conflicts is still on the table. Trump’s ‘24 campaign issues echoes his time in office, during which a major goal was to cut ties with — or funding of — global non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership and pull the focus back to funding U.S. projects, including strengthening the border.

Biden's Policy

The Biden administration has worked to counter Trump's efforts and reignite those partnerships. In itself, that’s not necessarily a good or bad thing, however it does increase the risk of non-elected officials impacting decisions made in the U.S. without any say on the part of its citizens. An example of this would be the WHO’s “pandemic treaty,” which Rep. Chris Smith hosted a press conference on “highlighting major concerns surrounding the proposed treaty—including the lack of transparency, the backroom negotiations, WHO overreach and infringement on US sovereignty, unknown financial obligations for US taxpayers, threats to intellectual property rights and free speech [...] and other significant issues.”

The Biden administration has also not been shy in sending monetary aid to Ukraine and Israel, and while the wars themselves have exacerbated supply chain issues and shortages caused by the pandemic, the sending of money the country does not have is maybe not turning out so good. The culmination of overseas spending and homefront inflation — and at a time when the petrodollar is in decline, no less — has resulted in increased consumer credit card debt and delinquencies. While some news outlets report the debt increase to be a sign of a booming economy, others note that this debt is propping up the economy to give the impression of economic growth and lack of recession, but causing increased debtor insolvency as wages aren’t rising at the pace of inflation: “Credit card debt balances are increasing as households use credit to make ends meet in a rising cost environment and as indebted homeowners use credit cards to keep up with mortgage payments," says Doug Hoyes, Licensed Insolvency Trustee.

For fleets this translates to something we discussed in our 2024 fleet industry trends: decreased consumer spending on non-essential products and services.

RFK Jr.'s Policy

Meanwhile, on the independent front, RFK. Jr. has expressed a stance similar to his uncle, calling for de-escalation and peace, though his stance on Israel as a major ally for oil reasons makes it obscure whether he’d move toward withdrawal or continued monetary support.

Key Takeaway

As long as the U.S. debt continues to increase at its current rate, businesses providing non-essential products and/or services may need to tighten the budget or explore ways to incentivize patronage. Be cognizant of candidates’ foreign policy and how it can affect your business and community.

Industries Most Likely to be Impacted

The long and short of it is: These issues impact all industries and affect all businesses — for better or worse — whether through regulation or at the consumer level. But at the end of the day, you can only control what you can control, and while fleet management software can help you greatly improve cost control, it takes a level of understanding and ability to adapt to policies and their effects on fleet-driven businesses that can be make or break.

Keep Your Fleet Prepared

Many things in life are beyond our control, but getting hold of your fleet expenses doesn’t have to be. Surface costly issues, inefficient operations and sources of inflated spend with Fleetio!

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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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