Fleet managers are finding they have an increasing array of tools to help lower the environmental impact of their fleet (a.k.a. “Green” their fleet). These include the implementation of “no idle” rules, replacing older trucks with hybrid trucks or battery electric trucks, or improving equipment utilization (basically reducing the size of trucks that are used for particular jobs). Some of the fleet managers I’ve spoken to in the last year have even acknowledged that they have reduced their fleet’s environmental impact by simply reducing the number of vehicles (in most cases this seems to be more based on the economic realities of the last two years, rather than environmental stewardship). One other tool that has emerged in the last few years in significantly higher numbers is using telematics to reduce vehicle emissions.
Telematics offer the fleet manager data about their fleet while providing the driver with information about the route. These data could include everything from engine diagnostics, idle time, fuel economy, tracking emissions data, and cargo information (temperature and trailer location), to detailed routing information, GPS, erratic driving, and real time traffic details for drivers.
In order to effectively reduce emissions from the fleet, telematics are being used by fleet managers to help them reduce the time that vehicles are idling either through rerouting to reduce traffic stops or reducing idling while drivers do their job (such as shutting off an engine during package delivery, etc.). In some telematics systems, the fleet managers can keep the vehicles’ engines operating efficiently by being notified when vehicles are in need of service, and reduce risk by monitoring driver behavior.
According to analysts, C.J. Driscoll & Associates, at the end of 2009, there were about 3.6 million telematics devices in use by fleets, including wireless handheld units. Whether these implementations are done specifically for environmental reasons is a bit murky, because most fleet managers recognize the multiple benefits of telematics for their fleet. Pike Research has found that many fleet managers look to this as a tool for reducing fuel usage, which has a direct impact on their budget. As a result the concept of green telematics is not something that is seen in a vacuum. In real-world situations, fleet managers are more likely to subscribe to telematics for multiple benefits.
That said, in 2009, an estimated 10% of fleets could be described as “Green Telematics Installations” because their main purpose is reducing emissions, in addition to reducing costs. This subset of telematics installations are looking to telematics to help with their emissions targets, but still recognize the other benefits such as lower costs, routing and reduced risks. The combination of continued pressure to meet emissions regulations and tight budgets will send many fleet managers to seek ways to reduce emissions without replacing or eliminating older trucks. As a result green telematics installations are expected to grow at a faster rate than telematics users in general, reaching 1.4 million green telematics installations by 2014, almost a quarter of all telematics installations.