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2021 Fleet Forum Conference: Vehicle sharing takes off in the humanitarian sector

Updated: Jul 12, 2021


At this year’s Fleet Forum Annual Conference we have taken up carpooling and ride sharing as a key topic which may be instrumental as a means for paradigm shifts in fleet composition, and a major mechanism for the fast greening of fleets.


In recent years carpooling and ridesharing have been buzzwords yet with the proliferation of requisite technology and increasing familiarity with these systems, finally notable implementation is being seen across various industries. The concept is only further gaining traction. Already in 2017, vehicle sharing pilots were started, with UNDP, UNFPA, and UNICEF conducting a vehicle sharing proof concept. This was acknowledged by Fleet Forum at the time by awarding this project the Best Transportation Achievement Award 2017.


Fast forward to 2020 / 2021: UNHCR and WFP have both implemented pilots where they pooled (shared) their vehicles and drivers to provide UN staff mobility services. A working group was hosted at the Annual Conference to collaborate on the creation of ideas to sustain vehicle sharing. They also discussed organisational enablers required for implementation, i.e. inter-agency agreements, a robust governing structure, as well as technological tools such as vehicle tracking and booking platforms. The Working Group will continue its efforts after the conference.


Currently WFP, CLS Novacom, UNHCR and TerraMar, WHO are all implementing booking platforms.


Organisations are keen on following others on their successful carsharing implementation. Frederic Caillette (WHO), Luk van Wassenhove (INSEAD), and Willem Zuidema (Save the Children) organised a Working Group Session with 7 other organisations to collaborate on the creation of ideas to sustain vehicle sharing.


Here are some key takeaways from the working group:

  • There are indisputable benefits such as improved vehicle utilisation, fixed cost reduction, and cost avoidance.

  • Technology not a key impediment for the concept, more vital is the agreement amongst the different implementing agencies.

  • Solutions need to be audit proof

  • Branding may be a key block for implementation, ideas need to be flexible (vehicle magnetic branding) or solved later on.

  • A strong level of advocacy needed by the implementing team, change management is important to make vehicle sharing viable. Let senior management know that the advantages far outweigh the cost.

  • Data sensitivity and privacy will remain key areas for negotiation amongst implementing agencies.

  • Scalability of the concept will be dependent on the number of actors in specific geographies.

  • Smaller NGO’s may face a barrier of entry due to to size of investment and considering the currency exchange.

  • Sharing mechanisms will allow more flexibility of fleets during changing circumstances (avoiding unused vehicles).

  • The group was encouraged to see what’s already existing, but more need to be out there, including real buy-in from the senior level HQ.


Fleet Forum’s Thoughts on Carpooling

Fleet Forum is enthusiastic to see the growing amount of carsharing initiatives being undertaken, this mass adoption proves that the concept is viable across many different operational landscapes.


Further implementation will only highlight the significant contribution carsharing has to reducing carbon emissions and cutting costs. Although the concept is taking off, Fleet Forum reckons further funding is required to accelerate vehicle sharing in the sector. Next to that, any organisation about to invest in fleet technologies should watch the development around booking platforms closely.


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