What does the future of fleet look like?

One of the advantages of our lofty office at our Skypark HQ is the view. When it isn’t raining of course.

Recently I’ve been looking out trying to envisage this: what will the fleet of the future look like?

In 2027 – that’s only 10 years away – will we all be moving silently around in electric vehicles? Will a digit poked at an app summon our car having unparked itself remotely? Or perhaps we’ve given up the car altogether and fleets are operated on a car share basis.

Would you fancy that? Maybe there’ll be flying cars too – see Ralph Morton’s guest blog: Is there room for a flying car on your fleet?

I’ve been looking at some of the predictions being made.

For example, the car sharing firm Zipcar owned by Avis currently has 245,000 members, but by 2025 is planning on that number being 1m.

In Germany, Chancellor Merkel wants 1m electric cars by 2020; by 2040 the UK won’t allow petrol or diesel engines to be sold (unless part of a hybrid drivetrain).

According to Forbes, there will be 10 million driverless cars on the road by 2020.

It’s all a bit mind-blowing when you try to grapple with the numbers, consider the possible changes in consumer behaviour as it moves from owner to user, and what the demands of a fleet might be.

But I suspect all these changes will happen gradually; there won’t be a big bang, a sudden cliff edge. Certainly fleet managers will have to be more alert to changing tastes and will need to react more swiftly to a moving tax landscape that maximises efficiencies for both driver and company.

However, consider this: By 2025, 25% of cars sold will have electric engines, up from 5% today. But most of those will be hybrids, and 95% of cars will still rely on fossil fuels for at least part of their power. Not my predictions, but those of Goldman Sachs from its Cars 2025 report.

That doesn’t sound a million miles away from today. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are becoming increasingly prevalent as more manufacturers widen the choice of drivetrains available, and it’s not just for larger cars: even the MINI range now has its first PHEV.

Diesel still has its place in fleets for those high mileage heroes, but you can see its influence steadily declining as the choice of alternative fuel vehicles becomes less ‘alternative’ and more mainstream.

So yes, the future does look confusing in some ways with all those new technologies waiting to grab our attention and provide future mobility solutions. But for the moment, the future has a reassuring look and feel about it; a future that doesn’t look too distant or dissimilar.

And it’s still based around the internal combustion engine.