Mobility of the future: 5 trends for the vehicle fleet

Technological advances, social change and climate protection requirements are influencing the future of mobility
Technological advances, social change and climate protection requirements are influencing the future of mobility

The mobility landscape is changing, driven by climate protection requirements, individual needs and technical innovations. Fleet managers are faced with the task of adapting their fleet strategy to changing circumstances and developments. Not only do you have to manage your fleet economically, you also have to ensure that your company’s mobility is sustainable, safe and tailored to your needs. In this blog post, we take a look at the future of mobility and take a closer look at 5 trends that also have an impact on fleet management.

Trend 1: Autonomous driving

The development of autonomous vehicles continues to advance and will significantly shape road traffic in the future. The legal framework has already been established in Germany: In May 2021, the Bundesrat and Bundestag approved a law allowing fully autonomous level 4 vehicles to take part in road traffic.

Autonomous driving describes the ability of vehicles to navigate and move in traffic without human intervention. Sensors, cameras and artificial intelligence recognize the environment and make appropriate decisions. A distinction is made between different degrees of automation – from partially autonomous driving with assistance systems to fully autonomous driving, completely without a driver.

While the widespread use of fully autonomous vehicles is still some way off in Germany, assistance systems and semi-autonomous driving are already being used in many vehicles today. The situation is different in China. There, driverless robot cabs are already chauffeuring their passengers around Beijing. And in the USA, too, robot cabs are already driving the first test routes.

For commercial vehicles, autonomous driving is to become established more quickly in Germany. Truck manufacturer Man is already testing driverless trucks and plans to use them on the roads by 2025. This is intended to counteract the driver shortage, which is a major challenge for many carriers. At the same time, autonomously driving trucks should minimize the risk of accidents and traffic jams and reduce CO2 emissions.

Trend 2: Integrated mobility solutions

The future of mobility will also be increasingly characterized by networked solutions in the vehicle fleet. Car sharing, e-scooters and public transport will merge into a seamless mobility offering. Companies are challenged to offer a holistic solution to flexibly and efficiently manage the mobility needs of their employees.

The introduction of such integrated mobility solutions requires well thought-out and strategic planning and implementation. Fleet managers need to consider various factors, such as the requirements of employees, the availability of mobility services and the appropriate infrastructure. In addition, technical interfaces and efficient data integration may be needed to seamlessly link the various mobility offerings. For fleet managers, it is therefore important to keep an eye on these developments and plan how they can integrate a holistic mobility concept into their fleet strategies.

Trend 3: Sustainability and the electrification of the fleet

The EU’s decision to phase out internal combustion engines has given new urgency to the electrification of the fleet. From 2035, no new vehicles may be sold that run on gasoline or diesel. So-called vehicles in the “e-fuels only” category are an exception. These are fueled by synthetic fuels and fuels produced from renewable energy sources.

Electromobility therefore plays the key role on the way to more environmentally friendly and climate-friendly mobility. Electric vehicles not only offer a more sustainable alternative to conventional combustion engines, but are also becoming increasingly powerful and cost-efficient. Experts at the Technical University of Munich, for example, predict that e-vehicles will be cheaper than combustion engines in just a few years. This is due on the one hand to the falling prices for batteries and the increasing production capacities.

A lot has already been done in terms of range, too. Some e-vehicles now offer ranges of over 500 kilometers, and soon there will even be e-cars with a range of around 1000 kilometers. And electric vehicles are also gaining ground in terms of charging speeds.

The electric vehicle is charging at a charging station
Power supply for hybrid electric car charging battery. Eco car concept.

Trend 4: Alternative drives for the mobility of the future

In addition to electromobility, work is also being done on other alternative drive systems to make the future of mobility sustainable and climate-friendly.

Hybrid & Plug-in Hybrids

In hybrid vehicles, an internal combustion engine is combined with an electric motor to reduce fuel consumption and environmental impact. When braking, the electric motor converts the vehicle’s kinetic energy into electrical energy and thus charges the battery. At the same time, it acts as a starter for the combustion engine. If more power is required, the combustion engine is switched on. Hybrid vehicles are mostly seen as a bridging technology on the way to fully electrified mobility. A plug-in hybrid can additionally be charged via a power connection.

Hydrogen

Hydrogen-powered vehicles use fuel cells to generate electrical energy from hydrogen. They have a long range and short refueling times of no more than 5 minutes, which makes them particularly interesting for long-distance trips. So far, however, there are only a few expensive hydrogen vehicles on the market, and the infrastructure for hydrogen refueling stations has not yet been expanded to cover the entire country. A forecast by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research also predicts that the excessively high prices for hydrogen will make its use as a fuel uneconomical in the long term.

Compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas

Vehicles that run on compressed natural gas (CNG) are a more environmentally friendly option because they emit less CO2 and pollutants than conventional internal combustion engines, but they have barely caught on. In contrast, LNG trucks are emerging as an attractive alternative to diesel trucks. LNG, or Liquefied Natural Gas, is liquefied natural gas that produces fewer CO2 emissions. Fleet managers can expect to pay around 35 percent more for the purchase. In return, however, LNG trucks are fully exempt from tolls.

E-Fuels

E-fuels are synthetic fuels produced with the help of renewable energies. Existing vehicles can also be refueled with it without having to be converted, but the production of e-fuels is currently still very expensive and their efficiency of 10 – 15 percent is also far below that of e-vehicles. These can convert around 80 – 90 percent of the initial energy. The DAT Barometer 2024 makes it clear that e-fuels have already arrived in the fleet: 91% of all fleet managers surveyed have already addressed the issue.

Trend 5: Vehicle-as-a-Service model: More flexible mobility through car subscriptions

Tomorrow’s mobility is becoming increasingly individualized. Particular focus is placed on the Vehicle-as-a-Service (VaaS) model, which focuses on the flexible use of vehicles. Away from buying a vehicle to using it as needed for a few weeks or months. The forecast: the market share of the VaaS model is expected to grow by around 40 percent by 2025.

A car subscription offers fleet managers precisely this flexible and cost-effective option for meeting the company’s mobility needs at short notice. They are particularly worthwhile to cover seasonal and cyclical fluctuations or to bridge longer delivery times for ordered vehicles. Those who would like to first test whether e-vehicles are worthwhile for use in the company’s own fleet can also fall back on a car subscription.

Although the monthly installments are usually higher than with traditional leasing, all expenses such as insurance, maintenance and taxes are already covered. Only the refueling and charging costs are not included. The car subscription provider also takes care of all administrative expenses.

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