The Annual Fleet Forum Conference, marking its 20th anniversary, commenced with a virtual gathering that radiated positivity and optimism. Toyota Gibraltar Stockholdings (TGS), a key sponsor, delivered an uplifting message to the hundreds of fleet managers in attendance. Kevin Jones, CEO of Bassadone Automative Group, reiterated TGS' dedication to supporting aid and development organisations in their pursuit of sustainability. He also teased exciting news from TGS later in the year, highlighting the growing demand for hybrid vehicles.
This year, 3 groups of fleet managers based in Nigeria, Kenya and Lebanon, came together in their respective locations to watch the conference together and have lively, face-to-face discussions, translating the learning to their common challenges. The Fleet Manager groups were generously hosted by WFP, IRC, IOM and UNHCR.
During the first day of the conference, Paul Maupin, Marketing Director at Ptolemus, presented the latest trends and advancements in sustainable fleet technologies and alternative modes of transport. Following the insightful session, attendees participated in group discussions, exploring the possibilities and challenges around electrification, mobility as a service and target setting for emissions reductions.
In addition to the keynote, there were twelve engaging break-out sessions where participants had the chance to listen to thought leaders, practitioners, donors, and suppliers. These sessions aimed to provide attendees with new perspectives, spark inspiration, and encourage them to pose challenging questions.
Here are some key takeaways from the first day:
Establish an emission baseline: In 2023, it is essential for all organisations to establish an emission baseline. This should be among the first steps towards achieving sustainable fleet operations. “If we don’t know where we are, we can’t move forward”
Adopt smaller vehicles: If capital investment for electric vehicles is a constraint, prioritise smaller internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. These vehicles can still contribute to reducing emissions while accommodating financial limitations.
Your license to operate: donors are introducing mandatory minimum environmental standards, specifically for sustainable fleet management. Making your fleet sustainable is no longer optional but necessary to secure institutional funding. ECHO is prioritising funding for collaborative projects between NGOs that focus on real sustainability improvement. They are also supporting HULO and Fleet Forum in developing a self-assessment tool based on the new minimum environmental requirements that became mandatory in 2023. If you are an ECHO partner, reach out to Fleet Forum to get involved in this project.
Start small, learn, grow with electrification: Begin by incorporating just one electric vehicle (EV) into your fleet and leverage telematics to capture data and gain valuable learnings. In environments with dirty energy, consider building a small ecosystem supported by solar panels and a localized grid. This approach is increasingly feasible at an individual level. “You don’t have to change your whole fleet at once. Start small, but start somewhere” And don’t forget, behaviour change is key, don’t overlook the change management piece.
Overcome range anxiety: Optimise your routes and familiarize yourself with the limitations of EVs. Use them on routes where you don't need to make frequent stops for charging, for instance in urban and peri-urban settings, alleviating concerns about range limitations. Start small, and get to know what works in your context and what the limitations are.
Carpooling is happening, get your tickets: two case studies on existing carpooling and ride sharing initiatives were shared with talk of more and more to come!
Consider the whole supply chain and the whole life cycle when you make environmentally sustainable choices: Kühne Logistics University outlined a recent study showing the relative environmental impact of EVs vs ICEs in real operational contexts. The role of production in emissions produced very interesting results, but a key message was also to consider the significant impact of even reducing vehicle size from larger to smaller ICEs, as well as considering other efficiency options to reduce environmental impact.
Engage suppliers as your partners: UNOPS showed participants if you are serious about environmental and social sustainability, you will need to go beyond mere ‘compliance’ approach. It’s important to treat suppliers as partners and keep facilitating a dialogue to get honest information, gradually build their capacity and put in place mutually agreed corrective action plans. The quality of responses obtained through this approach holds great power, even if initial results may be modest.
Stay tuned for further updates from the Annual Fleet Forum Conference 2023, as we bring you exclusive highlights from our second day!