When the vehicle shortage began, the war across the world had not. It was assumed that the microchip shortage would "catch up" and the brief supply interruption would soon be resolved. This did not turn out to be true and as we approach another year of vehicle under-production, businesses are beginning to feel the pressure to change their fleet strategies.
Many businesses use vehicles for just a few years before planning an operational rotation. This ensures your fleet vehicles are always in top condition and you have access to the latest models and features. However, as vehicles of all types have become more scarce, it has become a challenge to keep all fleets topped-up with new models. In fact, it's time to do some serious thinking about how the vehicle short supply will impact your renewal plans in the future.
How can you mitigate the risk of fleet downtime caused by a lack of replacement vehicles? Don't worry, the industry is already moving toward strategies that will keep business fleets moving even though replacement cars are delayed in production.
Plan for Long Term Maintenance and Miles
First, start planning to use your current vehicles - and those you successfully source - for longer service periods. These vehicles will build up more miles in your care than usual and it's important to plan for long-term maintenance. Instead of just the occasional garage inspection and oil-change, you'll want to get proactive about your preventative maintenance (PM) schedule to minimize wear-and-tear on vehicles over the longer period.
Prioritize Full-Service Repairs
When it comes time for oil changes or repairs, favor a full-service inspection in a garage bay. This will allow your mechanic team to identify any potential problems early, before they have a chance to cause further damage and reduce the lifespan of your service vehicle. Because every vehicle in the fleet will be serving longer, keeping them all in top condition and identifying problems early is essential.
Emphasize Gentle Driving
Gentle driving saves on gas, tire tread, and internal features like the brakes and transmission. While most fleet managers encourage gentle driving, it will now become a priority. Wearing out fleet vehicles prematurely with heavy-handed or lead-footed driving is not going to work in the long-term. Explain to your team that while you appreciate their commitment to punctuality, that you may be working with the same vehicles for a while so it's important to minimize wear-and-tear as much as possible.
Start Sourcing Replacements Early
Start looking for your next generation of fleet vehicles early. While it may not be practical to order a full stack in your favorite make and model this year, you can ask your fleet partner to begin sourcing you the vehicles you need months or even years before a replacement becomes absolutely necessary. This way, you are more likely to keep your fleet fresh with a trickle of new cars compared to working entirely on an aging fleet.
Build a More Diverse Profile of Acceptable Models
Lastly, reconsider the models you need. Insisting on only using white X make and Y model will drastically limit your ability to replace fleet vehicles during the supply shortage. However, the right vinyl wrap can effectively keep your fleet unified even if the body styles or original paint color is not a perfect match to your typical standards.
Is your fleet at risk of downtime in response to the vehicle shortage? Don't let your fleet run short just because there are fewer vehicles on the market. Wilmar Inc. can help you manage your fleet for greater longevity and begin the process of sourcing replacement vehicles using an extensive non-market automotive network. Contact us today to learn how to mitigate fleet downtime for your business.