Everything You Need to Know About Fleet Vehicles

April 14, 2020

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Key Takeaways

While it can be a complex and time-consuming process to research and purchase the right fleet vehicle to meet your business needs, it’s important to carefully spend the time selecting these vehicles since their performance can be directly related to your fleet’s productivity and profitability. To help, we’ve identified the steps you should take before you purchase a fleet vehicle for your company.  

What is a fleet vehicle?

Fleet vehicles are vehicles owned and used by an organization, such as a company, government agency, or public utility. These vehicles are the foundation of many businesses and can range in type from taxi cabs, rental cars, trucks, public buses, and more. Typically, fleet vehicles or company vehicles are used to transport people or products, like in the case of freight services or car rental companies. 

Fleet vehicles are owned and used by an organization, such as a company or government agency, and are often managed by a fleet manager, transport manager, or business owner.  Fleet management software, like Samsara, is often used to improve the efficiency, safety, and sustainability of fleet operations and fleet vehicles. This technology allows organizations to easily track vehicles, streamline communication, and meet compliance regulations. 

Federal, state, and local governments are responsible for large fleets of police, fire, refuse, maintenance, public works, schools and general service or military vehicles. Public sector fleet managers and other municipal agencies have been leveraging fleet management solutions and vehicle telematics data to analyze fleet vehicles, vehicle location, service delivery and coverage, driver behavior, community safety, routing, dispatch units, diagnostics and preventative maintenance so that they can optimize their service their communities and respond to citizens. 

Read on to learn more about fleet vehicles and how you can effectively manage them. 

What should you do before buying a fleet vehicle? 

It can be a complex and time-consuming process to research and purchase the right fleet vehicle to meet your business needs. But it’s important to carefully spend the time selecting these vehicles since their performance can be directly related to your fleet’s productivity and profitability. To help, we’ve identified three important steps you should take before you purchase a fleet vehicle:  

  1. Identify your needs: It is important to take into consideration the type and amount of cargo you intend to transport, as well as the distance that needs to be covered. This will give you a general idea of the physical requirements the vehicle needs to have. Other factors, such as budget or a project’s time frame, can further narrow down the choice of a fleet vehicle and help you determine if fleet leasing or purchasing a used car or former rental is a better option. To learn more about fleet leasing and fleet leasing companies, read our guide about leasing versus buying fleet vehicles here.

  2. Apply for a Fleet Identification Number (FIN): Having a FIN allows for discounts on new vehicles from auto manufacturers at dealerships. Note that different manufacturers have different eligibility requirements, so it is important to do the necessary research ahead of time. If your organization meets the indicated requirements and can provide vehicle titles and registration documentation, you can apply for a FIN and be eligible for discounts.

  3. Consider fleet management solutions: Managing a fleet of vehicles can be challenging, no matter the fleet size. That's why over 75% of fleet managers rely on fleet management software, or vehicle telematics, to help support day-to-day operations in at least some of their vehicles, according to data from Government Fleet’s annual benchmarking survey. Companies like Samsara offer fleet management services that maximize efficiency and minimize risk in your fleet investments. 

How to manage your fleet vehicles 

If you’re a fleet manager, you’re tasked with the safety and retention of your drivers, compliance regulations, fuel efficiency, and more. However, a comprehensive fleet management system can give you access to actionable data in order to streamline fleet operations and reduce costs

There are many ways fleet management companies can set your business up for success and improve your bottom line. An effective fleet management solution like Samsara can help you quickly locate your fleet vehicles, monitor traffic conditions, and understand driver behavior. Some of the leading benefits of a fleet management system include:

  • GPS tracking: Real-time vehicle location tracking allows you to see the exact location of your vehicles at any point in time. GPS tracking can be helpful for maintaining schedules, keeping customers aware of delays creating routes,, or increasing the security of your fleet. This technology can also help reduce the need for administrative work, such as manually calling on-route drivers, which can save employees considerable time and effort.

  • Safety on the road: Ensuring the safety of your drivers and others on the road is a major priority if you’re a fleet manager or business owner. Consider a telematics provider like Samsara that brings the power of fleet management and AI technology together with AI dash cams, a powerful dash cam that uses artificial intelligence to improve driver safety. By recording both the road ahead and the driver of the fleet vehicle, this dash cam can detect unsafe events like harsh events or smartphone use. Additionally, real-time driver alerts and in-cab voice coaching can help improve driver behavior. 

  • Maintaining Electronic Logging Device (ELD) compliance: Drivers are required to record their Hours of Service (HOS) electronically under the FMCSA’s ELD mandate. Samsara’s ELD automatically logs engine data so they can detect and record when a driver is on or off duty, providing a reliable way to collect HOS data. If you’re a fleet manager, you can use Samsara to send real-time alerts to drivers who are nearing an HOS violation, so you never risk a compliance violation. This helps you avoid paying costly fines or even temporarily being out of service  

  • Lowered fuel costs: Fuel consumption and vehicle idling are some of the leading expenses for fleet managers. But with fleet management solutions like Samsara’s Fuel Usage Reports, you can analyze and reduce your fleet’s fuel consumption across your vehicles by monitoring fuel use and idling time. With Samsara, you can even set up idling alerts so you can understand which drivers are idling in excess.

3 ways to protect your fleet vehicle investment

In order to ensure that your vehicles stay productive and profitable, it is important to protect and maintain your assets. Below are three ways you can protect your fleet vehicles: 

1. Use fleet insurance

Fleet insurance is necessary to ensure the safety of your investments. With fleet insurance, all your vehicles and assets can be covered under one policy, relieving you of the inconveniences that come with managing numerous insurance policies. 

Pro tip: Be sure to ask a fleet insurance expert to help you identify any benefits you might qualify for. For example, Progressive offers reduced insurance rates to Samsara customers.

2. Maintain your vehicles

Another important way to help your fleet save money is by properly maintaining your vehicles. Though breakdowns and repairs can be unavoidable, you can use telematics to run real-time diagnostics on your vehicles and help you implement a preventative maintenance schedule based on mileage or engine hours. This can help extend the lifetime of your vehicles, resulting in a higher return on investment.

Pro tip: Well-maintained vehicles have higher resale value. If you think you might sell a vehicle in the future, remember that vehicle history reports of used fleet vehicles monitor the damages and maintenance history of a vehicle to determine resale value. A well-maintained used vehicle will sell for more than its regular counterpart—another reason why it’s important to keep your vehicles healthy with a preventative maintenance plan. 

3. Choose a trusted fleet management system

A comprehensive fleet management system allows you to efficiently keep track of your fleet vehicles with actionable insights from data. Samsara is a fleet management system that helps businesses improve the efficiency, safety, and quality of their fleet operations with internet-connected sensors and software. From transportation and logistics to food production and construction, Samsara’s fleet management system can help you stay compliant and streamline your fleet operations. 

Pro Tip: Be selective with the fleet management system you choose. Trusted companies like Samsara lighten the workload for fleet managers while ensuring the efficiency and security of your operations.

Manage your fleet with Samsara

Fleet management can be a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. Even though there’s a lot to consider before and after purchasing a fleet vehicle, telematics systems like Samsara can help you make sure you’re getting the most out of your investments.

To learn more about managing your fleet with Samsara, request a free trial here, or learn more about Samsara’s fleet management solutions.