Back to basics

Last week I visited a long standing customer, whose office is just over 100 miles from the VLS headquarters. Naturally, the day before I logged on to my sophisticated mobility app, powered of course by the latest artificial intelligence; which provided me with my door-to-door journey details at the click of a button.

And so, the following day an autonomous electric vehicle arrived at Tordoff House at 08:00 on the dot.

A swipe of my phone, followed by a double click, facial recognition and six-digit pin entry and I was in. ‘Janine’ asked me how I was and we had a very brief one-dimensional conversation before ‘she’ set off and drove me a perfect six miles, albeit not along the most efficient route. I arrived at the train station, where another swipe of my phone concluded the journey.

As I got to the platform, an automatically pre-ordered single blend, super powered Americano with cold milk and a gooey brownie awaited me at an automated stand, easily collected with a swipe of my phone, I was soon on board the train with a hot coffee and a fattening breakfast snack.
Whilst the train was overly busy (the previous train had been cancelled) I did manage following a relatively polite conversation to evict the gentleman from my pre-booked seat, once he had seen the reservation on my phone. Only two train changes later and I was within 18 miles of the customer.

I quickly prepared myself for the Usain Bolt paced sprint which was required for me to get the once an hour X437 bus. I made it with seconds to spare, even with the laptop and presentation slide deck slowing me down.
Wiping the bead of sweat from my forehead, I placed my phone against the bus driver’s electronic reader. That was actually not operational because of recent vandalism, so the driver and passengers scowled at me whilst he counted out the £17.80 of change from the £20 note I had.

That said, I knew I was not far away now and once I had located a reasonably clean, chewing gum free seat; it was a quick 35 minute, nine stop journey, putting me only two miles from the customer’s head office. As I exited the bus, the pre-booked taxi was waiting and after exchanging some of the ‘standard’ pleasantries, we arrived at the customer’s offices exactly as
predicted with 12 minutes and 40 seconds to spare. Amazed by the multi-mode technological reality, I entered the reception wondering if the company car was dead.

Now the truth of course, is that I actually got in my company car, drove to the customer’s office and parked in the visitor’s bay simple and hassle free. For me, that is the scenario we will undeniably continue to see for at least two fleet term cycles, so the company car is very much still alive.

It may be that it is funded differently. Perhaps Business Contract Hire, Employee Car Ownership, Personal Contract Hire or Salary Sacrifice – each individual business and employee profile will have their own most cost
effective solution. But the one thing that won’t change in the mid-term, is that the passenger car remains the most effective mode of transport for many journey types, but not all I do admit.

Given the choice, let me get in my car and go to my meeting. I’ve got too many other things to think about than the most complex yet cost efficient multi-mode mobility solution to get me from A to B, using a substandard
transport network.

Obviously the above scenario is completely tongue in cheek, but it does demonstrate that the role of a fleet decision maker is becoming more challenging and complex than ever before.
There are now more things to consider with worldwide environmental pressures and the emergence of a new generation that doesn’t require or in some cases even want a vehicle.

To acknowledge the shift in the industry and in recognition that the digital transformation is already upon us, our 30th anniversary magazine – available here – is designed to address the current issues around politics, pollution, taxation and legislation. It also provides information about the new technologies available to counteract them; electric vehicles, connected and autonomous vehicles and mobility as a service.

Whilst we don’t have all the answers, JCT600 VLS can provide consultancy to help you understand all these issues and offer short, mid and long term solutions to future-proof your fleet.

Ben Creswick – Managing Director