Fleets across Europe set their sights on 2024 as transition to EVs shifts gear

January 5, 2024


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In late 2023, three of Samsara’s executives from the UK, France and Germany met to review the last 12 months and their predictions for the world of physical operations in 2024. They discussed the ever-pressing concerns around road safety, the drive for greater efficiency against ever-stronger economic headwinds and the ongoing digital transformation of the sector. Here, though, we focus on another pressing issue that continues to make the headlines.

The journey to fleet electrification across Europe may have started slowly, but there’s every sign that 2024 could witness a gear shift in favour of greener technology. 

Changes in regulation, fast approaching net zero deadlines, and a greater focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting means that fleets can no longer delay investment in alternatives to traditional petrol and diesel (ICE) vehicles. 

But as three of Samsara’s executives explain, it’s not all plain sailing. While the countries they represent all share common challenges around the cost of electric vehicles (EVs), range anxiety and the lack of infrastructure, there are some regional differences too.

What’s clear is that fleets have been doing a great job using technology and driver coaching to improve fuel efficiency. But as they start to invest in alternative fuels to decarbonise fleets,  old-school telematics and paper-based processes are simply not up to the task of both overseeing the transition to EVs or managing mixed fuel fleets. 

Across Europe, the industry is waking up to the notion that it is only by harnessing the power of data that fleets can survive what some believe to be the biggest shake-up in operations for a generation. 

Fleet electrification deadlines and new ESG reporting rules are driving change — By Jérôme Bamy, Regional Sales Manager, Samsara, France

Like many countries, reducing the carbon footprint of fleets continues to be a hot topic in France. Firms know it’s something they have to do, but it’s an issue that is made even more complex because of the different regulations at both national and European level. 

By Jérôme Bamy, Regional Sales Manager, Samsara, France

For instance, at the beginning of 2023, the European Union’s (EU) Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) came into force. This new directive modernises and strengthens the rules concerning the social and environmental information that companies have to report on. 

From January 2024, those companies that meet the EU’s criteria will have to apply these new rules to their regulatory reporting. 

Of course, no one doubts the importance of such environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) reporting. But at the same time, it can’t be done effectively without being able to monitor business and carbon emissions alongside sustainability targets. And that means having access to data. 

I had a discussion recently with a transportation company. Thanks to their fuel monitoring systems, they’re able to say with confidence that they have improved their average fuel consumption across their fleet of some 550 vehicles. 

Now, though — thanks to Samsara’s Connected Operations Platform — they’re able to identify which parts of their business are the most efficient. They’re even able to pinpoint which vehicles — and which drivers — are the best for fuel economy. Crucially, they’re able to pinpoint exactly which vehicles and drivers are the least efficient so they can take corrective measures. 

Access to data has allowed them to identify precisely which part of the fleet has been the best at reducing its average fuel consumption. With the countdown to net zero targets well underway,  this is an area that is likely to prompt even more fleets to explore how data can help them meet regulatory targets.  

Germany is driving EV adoption by pushing for a more sustainable logistics industry - By Jürgen Schachner, Director, Regional Sales, Samsara, DACH

I agree with Jérôme. Like France, Germany is pushing for a more sustainable transportation and logistics industry. There is a perception that we have been behind the curve compared to some of our neighbours — the Netherlands, for example — where the infrastructure and industry have moved at a much faster pace. 

Jürgen Schachner, Director, Regional Sales, Samsara, DACH

So, to turn things around, the Government wants 75% of all newly registered trucks to be zero emission by 2030. And to help meet this ambitious target, Germany’s Ministry for Digital and Transport is putting more than €1BN into environmentally-friendly transport vehicles. 

As well as financial incentives to encourage fleets to invest in new technology, it is also imposing more punitive measures to discourage the use of non-compliant ICE vehicles. 

For instance, in 2023 the government introduced tolls for vehicles using the Autobahn. The charges look set to be rolled out to include more polluting vehicles in the coming year. 

The aim is to accelerate green logistics, with a focus on lower — or zero — charges for emission-free vehicles. 

The combination of targets, incentives and financial penalties is designed to accelerate the shift away from ICEs to EVs and carbon-friendly fleets. In other words, more polluting vehicles will have to pay more to use the country’s roads. 

That’s why customers – and prospective customers — are talking to us. They understand that decarbonisation — and the transition to EVs — isn’t just about the vehicles. It’s about having a single-screen system of record that will help with charging, route planning, billing and maintenance. What’s more, it needs to provide operational oversight of their entire mixed fuel fleets.

UK fleets still committed to decarbonisation despite shift in government policy - By Philip van der Wilt, SVP and GM EMEA of Samsara

Here in the UK, the single biggest announcement for fleets in 2023 was the UK government’s decision to delay its net zero deadlines - bringing it more closely in line with EU targets. While not unexpected, it did create a swift response from the industry. That’s why, in the immediate aftermath of that announcement, we surveyed fleet leaders to gauge their opinion. 

Philip van der Wilt, SVP and GM EMEA of Samsara

It revealed that 85% of UK-based fleet businesses already had plans in place to meet the 2030 deadline, and a third (33%) believe they have wasted money as a result of the extension. 

One in five (18%) were also already in the process of transitioning away from ICE vehicles. And of those businesses who had plans in place to meet the 2030 deadline, 87% say they are either reconsidering their plan (44%), slowing down their plan (41%), or scrapping it altogether (2%). 

It’s clear that the decision by the Prime Minister to water down some of the UK’s net zero policies has caused a lot of confusion in the industry. It threw a spanner in the works for some companies, particularly as they’ve spent time and money to meet the initial 2030 deadline. 

Many fleets have already invested in connected data platforms to identify which routes, vehicles and tasks are best suited to the electrification of their fleets. They’re also using these same fuel-agnostic systems to identify other technologies that will lead to fleet decarbonisation.

What’s in store for 2024

Although this policy change is unique to the UK, the message from across Europe is that physical operations will continue to be challenged by the uncertainty surrounding fleet electrification and the need to double down on fuel efficiency. 

Across Europe, there is a palpable sense that fleets are beginning to make the necessary shift to electrified fleets.

Those who have already invested in technology and IoT platforms to manage their fleets recognise they will be better off. Businesses are waking up to the fact that it’s not petrol, diesel or electricity that powers fleets — it’s data. 

It’s now up to the rest of the industry to play catch-up or risk being hit with a double whammy — falling behind on electrification plans while being unable to manage sprawling fuel costs. 

That’s why the drive for greater fuel efficiency, decarbonisation and the transition to EVs is set to dominate the agenda for fleets in 2024. 


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