Vehicle technology takes many guises: safety equipment, such as cruise control, emergency braking and lane keeping, environmental, such as electrification, and in-car entertainment with the growing offering of connected services.
However, foremost in fleet managers’ minds – particularly those operating vans and trucks – is anti-terrorism and anti-theft devices. The following is a summary of the main talking points.
Theft prevention remains a hot topic following the high profile terrorism cases in Britain and other countries in recent years where vehicles have been used as weapons of destruction. Companies are employing a variety of methods to foil would be attackers, many of which utilise old technology.
Run-locks, steering locks and deadlocks are being retrofitted, and an additional benefit has come in the form of lower insurance premiums when locking devices have been fitted.
One fleet has also installed CanTrack tracking units to its commercial vehicles. These units consist of a small block that is hidden in the vehicle. It emits one signal per day – although signals can be requested if the vehicle goes missing - and tracks the asset not the driver. They have a 15-year battery life, cost £80 a year and can be easily removed at de-fleet.
“It’s worth looking at for vehicles and plant,” said the fleet manager. “Thieves can’t find the units. It helped us to find a stolen vehicle.”
Wireless relay vehicle theft
One issue, particularly on cars, is the theft of a keyless entry vehicle by using relays which interrupt the signal emitted between the key and the vehicle.
Fleets advise that drivers keep their keys in special pouches which prevent them being attacked or, as a low-tech solution to a high-tech problem, old biscuit tins.
Must-have safety technology
Priorities for fleets when it comes to equipping their cars with safety equipment, including speed limiters, cruise control, lane keep assist, telematics and dashcams. However, one consideration to be mindful of is that, according to a remarketing expert, if used vehicle buyers can’t see the technology they won’t pay extra for it – i.e. don’t expect the residual value to rise over a less well specced vehicle just because yours has a list of safety technology fitted.
Connectivity technology is increasingly demanded by drivers, including pairing phones, Apple CarPlay and the ability to link up Outlook diaries which inform the sales team what time to leave and about traffic alerts.
“This improves their working day and means less stress,” said one fleet manager.
Car apps are also a welcome addition, which show the driver if their cars is unlocked and enables them to lock it remotely, turn lights on or off and pre-heat or cool the car.
“You could also unlock the car so a delivery could be made to the boot,” said a fleet decision-maker.