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5 Minutes With… David McGuinness, Corporate Sales Manager at PayByPhone

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In the latest instalment of our fleet management industry executive interview series, we spoke to David McGuinness, Corporate Sales Manager at PayByPhone, about the company, the perfect storm of challenges being faced by the sector over the last 12 months and how we’re fighting through, the importance of universal efficiencies and transformational impact of electric vehicles…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

PayByPhone is a global leader in mobile parking payments, and our aim is clear: simplify your journey so you can focus on what matters most. Our stats back that up, too. Available in more than 1,200 cities around the world, 50 million global users can pay for parking easily and safely without the hassle of coins, queues or fines thanks to our technology. As a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen Financial Services AG, we are one of the fastest growing mobile payments companies in the world. We process more than £430 million in payments and have over five million downloads per year.

Our smart, intuitive technology is at the centre of our user-first approach, delivered to make everything as simple as possible. This same sentiment is at the core of our fleet management solution, PayByPhone Business, designed to aggregate fleet parking payments in one easy-to-use, centralised system saving time and money for fleet managers and drivers.

What have been the biggest challenges the Fleet Services industry has faced over the past 12 months?

The past 12 months have been particularly challenging for many industries, including Fleet Services. To be honest, I’m unsure if there’s ever been a time where macro-environmental consequence has been so unfavourably changeable. We have seen everything from driver and vehicle shortages to fuel shortages. This is the stuff of every fleet manager’s nightmare. However, it’s been inspiring to witness the resilience in our industry. I’ve been so impressed with the innovative attitude many have adopted in finding and embracing opportunity to evolve amidst the adversity.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

We have seen businesses put an increased focus on operational efficiency, which has been long overdue in many cases. Not only are they trying to identify the bottlenecks in their current processes, but also, they are actively looking for technological solutions to streamline their operations. If the past two years have taught me anything, it’s that businesses that embrace a reactive approach to innovation are often those who are impacted first and most significantly.

PayByPhone Business, our fleet management solution, has unquestionably accelerated the digitalisation of fleet parking payments, allowing businesses to deliver a much better user experience for their drivers and to control costs for the businesses at the same time.

What is the biggest priority for the Fleet Services industry in 2022?

Skyrocketing energy prices and rising inflation are driving up operational costs for businesses. It’s crucial now, more than ever, that fleet owners look for bespoke solutions to keep their fleets running as cost-effectively as possible.

By that I mean keeping a close eye on expenditure, leveraging existing resources to optimise output, and ensuring that employees are never left out of pocket – even if only temporarily – by moving away from conventional, time-consuming expenses-based systems.

Fleet services providers, like PayByPhone, have a real opportunity to work closely with businesses to make sure that solutions drive efficiencies universally.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2022?

We will see a continued shift towards electric vehicles as businesses want to take positive action to reduce their impact on the environment. Despite a desire to be as early in the adoption curve as possible, there are logistical challenges to navigate.

Fleet managers will need to maintain the same level of ‘road time’, but this is being hampered by the slow roll-out of public charging points. The government recently committed £1.6 billion for the creation of 300,000 public charging points by 2030, but there are already concerns that the roll-out needs to be ramped up quite significantly if it is to meet this target. Having a reliable, readily-accessible EV charging infrastructure will go some way to encourage fleet managers to accelerate their transition from internal combustion engine vehicles to electric cars and vans.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

Any technology that will deliver efficiency, security and visibility for fleet managers.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

I am going to look even further ahead than that and say 2026. The transformational impact that autonomous vehicles will start to have on the fleet services industry. Either that, or as a proud Irishman, I’ll say Ireland winning the World Cup of course.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Fleet Services sector?

I am always surprised by the lack of control and visibility businesses have over their fleet. It’s not only highly inefficient and expensive, but also exposes them to unnecessary risks.

With PayByPhone Business, fleet admins have visibility over all parking activity in a simple solution – one app and one interactive dashboard are all they need. It’s scalable, so there is no limit to the number of vehicles or drivers that can be added, and, for added convenience, they can be added in bulk. All payments are made from a centralised corporate payment facility for maximum simplicity and security. And for added protection, once a driver or vehicle is deleted, the associated business payment method will immediately be removed, safeguarding the account. In a world where data is king, our purpose-built reporting suite not only automates the curation of high-volume parking activity, but also it affords invaluable insights enabling better decision making. It’s everything you need, and nothing you don’t.

You go to the bar at the Fleet Services Management Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

I am unashamedly playing into the stereotype, but it has to be a Guinness. Mainly for the royalties, though!

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

At PayByPhone, we pride ourselves on being at the forefront of innovation, which is par for the course when you’re a wholly-owned subsidiary of a global, modern organisation like Volkswagen Financial Services. Being in a position where I’m empowered to play an active role in innovating and improving the way clients manage something as business-critical as their fleet is a source of daily motivation for me.

And what’s the most challenging?

There are over 580,000 vans in the UK and that’s before we even look at passenger car fleets. And knowing what I do about the hassles, stress and time constraints fleet managers and fleet admins must deal with, naturally, I want to get them all using PayByPhone Business. Put simply, it’s frustrating that I can’t magically do that – as useful a superpower as that would be! Instead, my team and I are working as hard as we can to simplify things, one fleet at a time.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“The harder you work, the luckier you become.” I now realise she didn’t come up with this herself, but it was said to me by my late, industrious grandmother who was a hugely influential figure in my life.

Peaky Blinders or The Crown?

Almost as instinctively as I answered Guinness earlier, it’s got to be Peaky Blinders.

ABOUT PAYBYPHONE 

PayByPhone’s aim is simple: simplify your journey so you can focus on what matters most. As a wholly-owned subsidiary of Volkswagen Financial Services AG, we are one of the fastest growing mobile payments companies in the world, processing more than £430 million in payments and over 5 million downloads per year. Available in more than 1,200 cities across the globe, PayByPhone helps millions of consumers easily and safely pay for parking without the hassles of coins, queues, or fines. Our smart, intuitive technology is at the centre of our user-first approach, delivered to make everything as simple as possible. Our multi-award-winning environmental initiatives, our Carbon Neutral status since 2019 and our cashless ethos, all contribute to helping us and our clients on the green journey in this interconnected world.  For more information, please visit www.paybyphone.co.uk.

5 Minutes With… PayByPhone’s Adam Dolphin

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In the latest instalment of our fleet industry executive interview series we spoke to Adam Dolphin, UK Sales Director at PayByPhone, about the company, the challenges posed by the pandemic and electrification, the increasing popularity of grey fleets and urban mobility…

  1. Tell us about your company, products and services.

PayByPhone’s aim is simple: simplify our clients’ journeys so they can focus on what matters most. As a wholly-owned subsidiary of Volkswagen Financial Services AG, we are one of the fastest growing mobile payments companies in the world, processing more than £430 million in payments and over five million downloads per year. Available in more than 1,000 cities across the globe, PayByPhone helps millions of consumers easily and safely pay for parking without the hassles of coins, queues or fines. Our smart, intuitive technology is at the centre of our user-first approach, delivered to make everything as simple as possible. Our multi-award-winning environmental initiatives, our Carbon Neutral status since 2019 and our cashless ethos, all contribute to helping us and our clients on the green journey in this interconnected world.

  1. What have been the biggest challenges the fleet services industry has faced over the past 12 months?

There have been two main challenges: the pandemic and continued move towards electrification. The pandemic has seen many fleets having to downsize because staff were made redundant or furloughed, and it is unclear how many fleets will return to pre-pandemic size. And with the Government pushing to reduce the number of and ultimately to eliminate internal combustion engine cars on the road, fleet managers will have to deal with not only the cost of replacing petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles with electric vehicles but also ensure they purchase the right vehicles for their needs. Charging infrastructure certainly needs to catch up to make these plans feasible – for example, more charging points in public car parks.

  1. And what have been the biggest opportunities?

Grey fleets are becoming an increasingly popular solution for businesses. So, for PayByPhone, as a close partner to the fleet service industry, it is important we have a parking solution specifically for fleet managers.  We have just launched our new fleet management solution, PayByPhone Business, whereby a company’s parking payments come under one easy-to-use, centralised system. It allows grey fleet drivers to switch between personal and business payment cards on the PayByPhone app when paying for parking. The entire premise is to simplify things for fleet managers so they can concentrate on other priorities on their long and complex to-do list, such as the drive toward electrification, managing supply and seeking out the best lease deals. This should help our clients cut down on parking fines too.

  1. What is the biggest priority for the fleet services industry in 2022?

At the moment, I would say addressing fluctuating – and increasing – fuel costs. This is of course another benefit of moving to an electric or hybrid fleet.

  1. What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2022?

I can’t state this strongly enough – electrification, electrification, electrification… Paris plans to enforce a total internal combustion engine sales ban as early as 2030, and the UK will ban sales of gasoline- and diesel-powered cars by 2035. China has an interim target of 20% electric or hybrid cars on the road by 2025. According to the International Energy Agency, the global electric car stock reached 10 million in 2020, a 43% increase over 2019 and this is projected to grow during the next decade. This is a trend that is here to stay.

  1. What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

We really hope its our PayByPhone app and our new fleet management solution PayByPhone Business!

  1. In 2022 we’ll all be talking about…?

It’s going to be a year of sport! We have the winter Olympics in February and then the Football FIFA World Cup in November and December, not to mention all the sporting events postponed from this year.

  1. What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the fleet services sector?

Probably that time spent on admin tasks is one of the biggest productivity challenges fleet managers face. However, some of those admin tasks are linked with the core business activity, and can’t be avoided, so it’s important to help fleet managers be as productive as possible. And that’s exactly where PayByPhone Business can help. Put simply, fleet managers don’t have to spend time reconciling large numbers of parking expense reports each month. That’s beneficial for everyone!

  1. You go to the bar at the Fleet Services Management Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

An Old-Fashioned, which is bourbon whiskey, sugar syrup, angostura bitters and orange peel!

  1. What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Without question working for a company that is at the forefront of innovation in the mobility industry. As I mentioned earlier, PayByPhone is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Volkswagen Financial Services AG, so we get to see first-hand some of the exciting mobility solutions the company has planned. PayByPhone is vital to VW’s Urban Mobility plans, so we’re expecting all our clients – particularly fleet operators – to benefit from the solutions we plan to deliver in the next few years.

  1. And what’s the most challenging part of working for PayByPhone?

Trying to convince people that you weren’t personally – or corporately – responsible for giving them their parking fine. Despite my senior position in a global company, my brother still refers to me as a “glorified traffic warden”!

  1. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Find your niche. My late grandfather, Ralph, or Skipper as we used to call him, passed these words of wisdom on to me. I didn’t really get it at the time, but now I’ve been in the parking industry for 12 years, I can finally see what he meant. I certainly didn’t choose to go into parking, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it so far. I think I’ve found my niche, so I’ll be raising my Old Fashioned to Skipper.

  1. Peaky Blinders or The Crown?

Not even a question! Peaky Blinders all the way!

5 Minutes With… Beverley Wise, Sales Director UK & Ireland, Webfleet Solutions

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In the latest instalment of our fleet management executive interview series, we spoke to Beverley Wise, Sales Director UK & Ireland at Webfleet Solutions, about the company, the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the industry, rising expectations on standards of service and the importance of telematics…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

Webfleet Solutions, now part of Bridgestone, is one of the world’s leading providers of telematics solutions for fleet management, vehicle telematics and connected vehicle services.

Our WEBFLEET platform gives fleet operators everything they need to reduce costs and boost productivity, while enhancing customer service and improving the safety of their drivers.

We were one of the first telematics providers to foresee the importance of connectivity and have invested heavily in developing ways to integrate our hardware and software with specialist providers to offer the most reliable and easy-to-use vehicle hub solution on the market.

Alongside the core telematics functionality of mileage recording and driver behaviour monitoring, WEBFLEET also integrates seamlessly with additional hardware and software solutions, such as cameras, vehicle check and signature capture tools and digital forms. This allows you to run everything from one easy-to-use interface.

The cloud-based software system supports seamless communication with mobile workforces and helps streamline workflow management, leading to happier customers and safer, more productive drivers.

What have been the biggest challenges and opportunities the Fleet Services industry has faced over the past 12 months?

The Covid-19 pandemic has proved a real test of business flexibility and resilience, with unprecedented times calling for unprecedented approaches to how we work. There has been a need for everyone to work together for the greater good.

Fleet service providers have had to work harder than ever to help businesses generate bottom line savings in the wake of the financial pressures many have faced. Telematics has had an important role to play here, helping support remote working, streamline processes and optimise vehicle utilisation. 

Fleet managers are now looking to the future with different mind-sets to the ones they had before the pandemic struck. Economic uncertainty continues to make flexibility and agility vital business requirements, with digital solutions acting as an important enabler. Connected fleets can ultimately work faster, more efficiently and with greater dexterity. 

All the while, collective efforts to decarbonise transport are accelerating. Fleet service providers must continue to innovate and create new opportunities for companies to make the right decisions at the right time – and build that all-important competitive advantage.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market over the coming months?

As the world returns to normal, we can expect fleet businesses to demand higher levels of automation around their core processes.

Expectations for improved standards of service will continue to rise, while the road to zero and safer transport is putting a greater onus on organisations to change how they operate.

In response, we can expect to see tech innovation continuing to transform business mobility.

Telematics data will become increasingly pivotal for businesses embarking on their EV journey, for example, artificial intelligence (AI) is set to play a greater role in helping inform fleet data, while Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) will continue to gain traction with this data providing the cost and behaviour insights needed to optimise journey planning.

What technologies will have the biggest impact on the market over the next 12 months?

With the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans being banned from 2030, and clean air zones being rolled out, businesses must plan their transition to EVs sooner rather than later.

Software solutions that can help fleet business shape their electric vehicle (EV) strategies, supporting both EV adoption and for their ongoing management, will be vital.

Current innovations include planning reports to identify the fossil fuel vehicles that could be replaced with EV alternatives, EV health data that enables pre-emptive maintenance and charger connection reports that help ensure charging occurs when tariffs are most favourable, and just before vehicles are needed for operation.

The interconnectivity of technology will also continue having a huge impact. Integrations between fleet management software, office suites and mobile hardware may not be new, but the opportunities for these to underpin new ways of working for management teams in the post-pandemic environment have never been more important.

In 2022 we’ll all be talking about…?

It’s very difficult to predict, as the world is changing at a phenomenal rate, but my best guess would be the continued innovation around EVs and data aggregation from OEMs.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Fleet Services sector?

Its resilience and the ability to absorb change – and never more so than in the last 18 months.

You go to the bar at the Fleet Services Management Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

Has to be New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Churton preferably.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Listen, listen and listen again.

Peaky Blinders or The Crown?

Now that is a difficult one, but I think Peaky Blinders just edges it – gritty, well produced and with the added advantage of Cillian Murphy!

5 Minutes With… SmartDrive’s Penny Brooks

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In the latest instalment of our fleet industry executive interview series, we spoke to Penny Brooks, Managing Director for EMEA at SmartDrive Systems, about the company, the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19, the opportunities created by video safety technologies, the move towards remote fleet management and the importance of big data…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

SmartDrive Systems, (now part of Omnitracs), helps fleets reduce bad costs, by reducing fleet risk and collisions, whilst protecting and exonerating drivers when not-at-fault.  Our video-based, managed service safety programme performs the ‘heavy lifting’ for fleets, enabling them to implement a proactive, programmatic approach to reducing on-road risk.  

This is achieved primarily through identifying risky driving behaviour, such as distracted driving, speeding, close following, and many more, providing the fleet with the mechanism to work in a supportive and objective manner to coach drivers to safer performance. 

Many of our existing customers also integrate the programme into their driver incentive schemes, identifying and rewarding drivers for safe driving practices and improvements. 

What have been the biggest challenges the Fleet Services industry has faced over the past 12 months?

The last 12 months have been an extraordinary time! COVID has presented a massive challenge to the industry, both in terms of suppliers to the industry continuing to service and support existing clients, and in terms of new business growth.    

Ourselves, and many other fleet services companies like us, have had to find new ways to conduct our business and support our customers, which will likely have an ongoing impact for some time to come.  

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

The increasing digitalisation of fleet management operations to optimise efficiencies and reduce costs during this time, has led to a number of very interesting emerging opportunities in our space of video-safety. 

What is the biggest priority for the Fleet Services industry in 2021/2022?

Unsurprisingly, we’re seeing an increasing focus on remote fleet management solutions and services. COVID and other macroeconomic factors have meant that operational efficiency and minimising fleet risk are key to enable many fleets to remain competitive and protect their employees. 

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2021/2022?

In line with above, developments in remote fleet services data capture and data analytics is a significant trend, through converged fleet management systems, particularly in areas such as telematics, in-cab video, and AI.  

We’re seeing a lot of movement from on-premise to SaaS solutions, which although not new, is accelerating more rapidly than ever before, in line with improved connectivity and the Internet of Things, (IoT). 

With all of this we will see a trend for deeper data security, with many fleet managers shifting focus to strategic management and upskilling in IT to adopt newer roles. 

Additionally, the increasing push toward electric and autonomous vehicles will be a key trend, with many companies rolling out electric vehicles from cars to commercials. With autonomous vehicles, one of the key trends will be finding ways of how to manage automated vehicles fleets with regard to on-road risk, as safety is a key concern.    

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

Remote fleet management systems that provide real-time visibility across operations. 

In 2023 we’ll all be talking about…?

Hopefully not another COVID lockdown! Rather where we are going, or have been, on our foreign holidays!  

On a more serious note, we’ll be talking more about ‘big data’, analytics and associated security than we are today. Fleet operators and other members of the fleet services sector will have greater insights into how to make use of this upsurge in data to understand every aspect of a fleet’s behaviour, to gain efficiencies, improve safety and protect the environment.  

Which person in, or associated with, the Fleet Services industry would you most like to meet?

HRH The Princess Royal, as Patron of Transaid, the international development organisation that works to transform lives through safe, available, and sustainable transport. I have great admiration for her and the hard work and focus she puts into furthering Transaid’s aims. 

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Fleet Services sector?

It’s continually changing and many faceted dimensions. I spent 15-years at a major truck and van OEM before joining SmartDrive and believed I had a thorough understanding of the sector. However, I soon realised that wasn’t the case and I continue to gain new insights daily that inform my experience and understanding of this exciting and dynamic industry.

You go to the bar at the Fleet Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

A perfectly chilled glass of white burgundy. 

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Witnessing the difference that our technology makes to our customers operations and knowing that I’m part of an organisation that is helping to save lives and reduce casualties on our roads.  

And what’s the most challenging?

Balancing daily operational tasks against the wider priorities of leading business growth. Like many people, there’s not enough hours in the day.  Keeping a focus on my ‘ruthless priorities’ is key.  

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.  

Peaky Blinders or The Crown?

Peaky Blinders at a push. Watched the first series, it was great. Watched the second series, not so great.  Started watching the third series…gave up after first episode. Even Cillian Murphy wasn’t enough to keep me watching!  

To find out more about SmartDrive’s managed video safety programme, email info@smartdrive.net, visit their website, or give them a call on 01442 345180. 

5 minutes with… Mike Palmer, Nexus Vehicle Rental.

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In the latest instalment of our fleet industry executive interview series, we sat down with Mike Palmer, Client Development Director at Nexus Vehicle Rental, to talk about his company, industry opportunities, COVID-19 challenges and why straight talking is so important in business…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

Established in 2000, Nexus Vehicle Rental is the UK’s leading tech-driven business mobility provider with a supply chain of more than 550,000 vehicles across 2,000 locations. We supply cars, LCVs, EVs, specialist and HGVs and one day, when they’re available for commercial use, we’ll supply autonomous vehicles. Our innovative platform, IRIS, streamlines rental management for our customers, driving large cost savings for them. 

What have been the biggest challenges the Fleet Services industry has faced over the past 12 months?

As we have weathered the storm Brexit presented, with political and economic ambiguity over the last 12 months, we are now facing continued uncertainty surrounding the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on the country. Many companies are already scaling back operations significantly and will face serious issues in the coming days / weeks/ months as their normal supply chains are unable to continue at usual capacity.

We have also seen challenges of increased supply chain costs, in the main as a result of the WLTP changes, which saw more stringent laws and testing on vehicle fuel consumption and CO2 emissions from passenger cars. On top of this businesses are also seeing increases elsewhere such as higher pension costs and rises in living wage. 

Our large supply chain does allow us to mitigate some of these rising costs and risks to ensure that we can keep any pricing increase as low as possible for our customers. Unfortunately, for smaller companies and direct rental businesses this can be very difficult and again, in many cases these businesses have been forced to scale back operations. 

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

As supply chain costs are increasing and legislation is changing, many direct suppliers are now unable to service the largest contracts due to fleet scale and higher demand. Nexus is ideally placed to service large scale contracts, as we have access to the largest supply chain in the country.

As a disruptor in the corporate vehicle rental industry, we have revolutionised the sector through our use of technology, which keeps overheads low, but means we deliver rental efficiencies for our customers at every step. We understand the rapidly evolving situation surrounding COVID-19 is putting greater pressure on businesses, local authorities and front-line workers. As many businesses in the UK must adapt to new ways of working, we want to do what we can to support our clients keep operations running smoothly.

What is the biggest priority for the Fleet Services industry in 2020?

As we continue to navigate the current situation surrounding COVID-19, businesses are facing times of huge uncertainty, not just in the fleet services but across all industries. 

This uncertainty will not go away anytime soon. As we are forced to adjust to a new way of life and working for the foreseeable, we will see businesses continuing to scale back operations and adapting operations to drive cost efficiencies. The flexibility that comes with rental means that businesses can scale fleet needs at any time, to increase vehicles on the road to deal with peak periods or downsize fleets when demand is reduced, so I think we’ll see an uplift in businesses adopting rental moving forward.

Times like these highlight the need for businesses to remain flexible, agile and adaptable to changing conditions. While looking after the wellbeing of the workforce, clients and suppliers’, the priority for the fleet services industry will remain in delivering great service and keeping people and goods mobile, wherever and whenever it is safe to do so. 

As fleet rental providers, it has been important for Nexus to recognise changing requirements and customer demands and to adapt our service offering to reflect the needs of our clients and comply with legislation. 

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2020?

Phases of ambiguity often highlight the real benefit of remaining flexible, and this has led to growth in rental in recent years. For those organisations that need to scale-up their fleets quickly whilst mitigating costs, short term rental will prove an excellent solution. As the situation surrounding COVID-19 shifts every day, many are choosing to adjust operations to meet demand in a different way to ensure that individuals and other businesses can continue operations safely.

Until recently, we have seen a rapidly increasing demand for electric vehicles across all modalities. Legislation is a key driver of changes to the market with the introduction of Clean Air Zones (CAZs) and Ultra Low Emissions Zones (ULEZs), propelling the need for innovation in cleaner transport solutions. 

Nexus continues to lead the way with its new dedicated EV rental platform for business use as part of our revamped IRIS V5 rental management system. The platform eases the transition process by assisting our clients to gradually trial and make the switch to EVs – while avoiding high upfront expenditure. We are constantly looking to develop our services with new and innovative software and IRIS is our flagship product that facilitates this.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

The rapidly evolving situation surrounding COVID-19 is putting great pressure on businesses and authorities to ensure that operations run smoothly. As a result of this economic uncertainty, vehicle manufacturers are announcing that production will be halted. What we thought would be the biggest trends will likely lose focus against a backdrop of businesses just trying to continue operations. 

Electric vehicle technology was set to have a huge impact this year, with the introduction of zero rate BIK tax for all EVs in April to act as a great incentive for businesses to make the switch. Those that may have been previously unsure of how they could financially benefit from going green may be encouraged by this, though must consider the associated challenges from doing so, such as increased repair and maintenance costs for fleet vehicles. 

The government is sign-posting fleets towards a greener future of electric vehicles and hybrids as we know, however, the impact of the widespread adoption of this technology will continue to prove a challenge. What happens if your electric company car goes in to be serviced and you have no choice but to drive a petrol or diesel replacement? 

It is still a big decision for businesses to make this switch to EVs due to the huge investment required to do so, yet high demand means that orders of electric vehicles can still take up to six months for delivery. As a result, we have observed a rising trend of short and medium-term EV rental bookings to plug the gaps in supply and keep fleets moving and expect to see this escalate over the year. 

In 2022 we’ll all be talking about…?

In 2022, I’m sure we will all still be talking about the same things that we are now such as new fuels, self-driving cars and alternative forms of mobility! There is a lot of work still be done to improve infrastructure to enable implementation of these technologies and this will take huge amounts of investment over the next few years before any of them can become the norm.

Over the last few years, there has been more enthusiasm surrounding the possibility of hydrogen-fuelled cars for one, despite the current industry-wide thinking that EVs will become mainstream. It could be interesting to see what developments are made over the next few years regarding hydrogen, as we have seen the EV uptake at the moment is still fairly slow due to associated costs and uncertainty about the level of infrastructure to facilitate this transition. 

I think fully autonomous cars may be a bit of a distant dream for now. However, we are increasingly seeing the adoption of automated features in new cars with self-parking settings, adaptive cruise control and automatic braking systems. Realistically, the safety aspects of autonomous cars will not be ironed out for some time and I am not sure how many people would fully trust this kind of technology right now. 

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Fleet Services sector?

I think one thing that surprised me was how many people stay in the industry for such a long time – I have worked in fleet management for 15 years! I think in other sectors, businesses tend to see people move around a lot more.  

It does mean there a lot of experts within our business who have considerable experience of the industry, not just in rental but from various backgrounds such as leasing or finance. This enables us to advise customers on the best way to manage their mobility requirements with genuine knowledge and expertise. 

You go to the bar at the Fleet Services Management Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

Easy, Southern Comfort. 

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

I face different challenges every single day – no two days are the same. In this industry we are kept on our toes, reacting to constantly moving goalposts by the government especially, tackling issues around taxation and changing environmental targets, whilst providing the best service at the best price point. 

For example, a few years ago, barely anyone was driving electric vehicles and now we are readying ourselves for the complete removal of petrol and diesel vehicles in the next 15 years. While the industry still adapts to new legislation and changes announced by the government, Nexus is on hand to support businesses in their day-to-day – we must be agile. 

Through a tech-enabled, flexible approach, rental saves businesses both time and money, making it an extremely viable option in the current economic climate and in any times of uncertainty. 

And what’s the most challenging?

I think the most challenging thing is the same as what keeps the job exciting. We are constantly having to change the way that we do things and ensure that we can provide our customers with the most up to date and appropriate advice given developments within our industry.

As a business we ensure we remain flexible, agile and able to adapt to a constantly changing environment so that Nexus remains at the forefront of the industry. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 

“Always tell it how it is. People will appreciate the honesty.”

Peaky Blinders or The Crown?

Peaky Blinders. 

www.nexusrental.co.uk

5 Minutes With… Peter O’Driscoll, UK Country Manager, RingGo cashless parking

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As part of our ongoing fleet executive interview series, we sat down with RingGo’s UK Country Manager Peter O’Driscoll to talk about new products, current market trends and technological innovations…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

RingGo is the UK’s leading phone parking service – available in more than 450 towns and cities across the UK.  

RingGo Corporate is our unique offering for businesses, which lets employees pay for parking quickly and easily using their company account.

Most of the UK’s largest telecoms, utilities, and service companies use RingGo Corporate.  Quite simply because it improves the efficiency of their business, increases employee and customer satisfaction, and reduces pay and claim.  

One company says they save £3 million pa because they’ve reduced penalty charges so much! Another saves £500,000 each year.  A major telecoms company told us they’ve seen customer satisfaction increase since introducing RingGo Corporate – just because engineers no longer worry about parking overruns and can take time over each job.  

What have been the biggest challenges the Fleet Services industry has faced over the past 12 months?

We know businesses find it hard to work efficiently with increasing congestion in towns and cities. At a tactical level, things like our award-winning space availability solution already help, by analysing RingGo parking data and highlighting where free parking spots are most likely to be. This can save countless motorists from circling for spaces.  

And as part of the new BMW/Daimler mobility services joint venture, we will in future be able to offer wider transport solutions that use intelligent data to indicate the best mode for each trip.  This will also help employees carry out their critical journeys in a more efficient and environmentally-friendly way.  

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

We see a whole host of new technology which helps employees work more efficiently while they’re out on the road.  The simple act of avoiding congestion, finding a space, parking and paying, close to your destination, simply wasn’t possible a decade ago – but now, everyone has a smartphone and we take it for granted.  The rate of change is astonishing.  

What is the biggest priority for the Fleet Services industry in 2019?

Improving efficiency and road safety is also key, so if you can make the lives of your employees easier and less stressful, we obviously think you should do that!   

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2019?

From our point of view, we work closely with hundreds of Councils and many of them are under pressure to improve local air quality.  Several are varying parking tariffs to encourage electric and hybrid vehicles, and yes often discouraging older petrol and diesel vehicles too.  That’s something that will affect many more fleets in 2019, especially those that need to travel in City centres.  

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

The introduction of in car payments for parking – In-car is coming…

In 2022 we’ll all be talking about…?

Whether the progress in autonomous vehicles is as fast as some predict right now.

Which person in, or associated with, the Fleet Services industry would you most like to meet?

The Fleet Managers of every major utility – can you sort that please?!

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Fleet Services sector?

The most surprising thing that we have learnt is what actually constitutes a fleet vehicle. Historically these were either purchased outright or leased by the company but today there are a multitude of funding methods, with a large number of fleet users funding these from cash, so identifying what constitutes a fleet user presents its challenges. 

You go to the bar at the Fleet Services Management Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

A rum and Coke always sits well.  The nice thing of course being that if I leave the car overnight I can always top up the next morning with RingGo.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Building cool, useful stuff that people like using!  I love it when people ask what I do and they reply “Oh I use that.  It’s great!”

What could be nicer than making people’s daily lives that little bit easier?

And what’s the most challenging?

Purely and simply juggling all the amazing opportunities for new and better parking services.  With limited resources, I have to make difficult choices on a daily basis.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Try and see ahead and make plans for what’s coming. Then focus on two or three key areas to deliver.

Peaky Blinders or The Crown?

Peaky Blinders… and their unique entrepreneurial spirit.