Welcome to the inaugural Company Car Today Innovation Awards, a new initiative designed to reward the companies that are doing something clever to help business fleets operate more efficiently, cost effectively or safely.
The 2021 awards are split into 10 categories covering all areas of the fleet industry, with entries assessed by an elite judging panel to produce an overall winner and, where a particular category was very tight, one or, in two cases, two Highly Commended entries.
The judging panel deliberating over an impressive number of entries consisted of
- Paul Hollick, chair of the Association of Fleet Professionals and managing director of The Miles Consultancy
- Julie Summerell, Association of Fleet Professionals director and managing director of TR Fleet
- Nigel Trotman, former fleet consultant, fleet manager and ICFM board member
- Paul Barker, editor of Company Car Today with more than 15 years of fleet industry experience
- Tristan Young, Company Car Today contributing editor with more than 20 years of experience in the fleet sector
The judges were looking for entries that offered something different and innovative that helps businesses operate better.
The winners are revealed below, and congratulations to each and every one for being at the head of their respective fields.
This was something of a surprise winner for the Fleet Management category, with Engineius catering for just one element of fleet management – that of vehicle movements.
But it’s an area that fleets can sometimes find tricky to manage, highlighted by the comment from one judge: “Engineius seems to make logistics really simple, and I know the struggles we have with vehicle movement companies, so to have a system that allows us to do that and to have visibility of what is happening in the process is very good.” Another said: “It’s quite niche within fleet management but Engineius seems to be doing it better and more cleverly than anyone else.”
Engineius claims to be applying online shopping functionality to the vehicle movement sector, using the consumer models of Amazon or Uber to modernise what it described as an “outdated segment of the industry”.
The company offers transparency, something it says was lacking, and allows customers to book, track and manage their vehicle movements online, while also sending automated text alerts to the employee waiting for delivery and giving pre- and post-delivery images.
Engineius claims to intelligently join jobs together to maximise efficiency and cut driving miles, while helping fleets reduce admin time, vehicle movement emissions and cost on the nine times per year an average fleet vehicle requires movement or relocation.
Highly Commended: Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions
The Hitachi Asset Utilisation system caught the judges’ eyes because its comprehensive nature has been enhanced with the introduction of new initiatives that cover taxi options to reduce unnecessary travel problems, ready-to-deploy vehicles to remove pool fleet delays, flexible contract hire and a new programme to help build salary sacrifice take-up.
The Green Award was the trickiest one for a couple of reasons. Not only was it the category with the largest number of entries, but we excused 20% of the judging panel, as he works for the eventual winner.
Despite the judges being ultra-hard on TMC’s entry to avoid any accusations of bias, the company’s new TMC-e aid to electric vehicle transition impressed the remaining judges for a number of reasons.
Launched in July 2020, TMC-e is devised to support businesses through the process of electrification in a series of ways, including assessing an existing fleet to measure the feasibility of transferring individuals to EVs, as well as consultancy around vehicle funding/purchase, charge points and getting employees on-board.
EV charge cost is another big issue that TMC is looking to resolve, with EV Reimbursement a key part of TMC-e. The system receives feeds from charge cards – of which the company offers a single card accepted at 85% of UK public charge points – as well as home and office points, to calculate the true cost of charging. Given the current AFP and BVRLA campaign for a fairer mileage reimbursement rate for EVs, that’s a useful tool to cover the true employee cost.
Overall, it’s an offering that will help businesses take the big step to EV, and is, as one judge said, “solving a real problem”.
Highly Commended: Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions and Schneider Electric
With honourable mentions also going to the entries from Polestar, RightCharge and Sogo, there were two companies awarded Highly Commended status.
Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions has been making a series of moves around electric vehicles, including heavy involvement in the Gridserve recharging network. But it has also rentalised the cost of home charge points into the lease where required by fleets, and has leading capabilities in terms of workplace and depot charging installation.
Schneider Electric is mandating a 100% electrified company car policy. PHEVs are allowed for the next two years for employees identified as not able to install a charge point at home, but after that Schneider expects the public network to facilitate a move to 100% EV going forward.
Winner: Fleetondemand Mobilleo
The Best App Award goes to a company that Is adept at using technology to integrate different functions together, as Fleetondemand’s Mobilleo platform amalgamates a variety of Mobility-as-a-Service travel options under one smartphone app.
Also usable as a desktop application, Mobilleo is free for customers to download, and allows users to search, book and pay for a journey as a single entity, across global providers of everything from flights and train travel to car clubs, hotels and bicycle hire. The app also hosts ticketing, and can be configured to company travel policies and mobility requirements, and will also split out private and business journeys for expense claims.
The company says the app can be used as an alternative to grey fleet, or as an employee benefit or CSR tool.
“I’m aware there is a need for mobility, and the ease of the app is impressive in terms of the driver journey,” commented one judge, while another said: “It seems to do everything.”
Fleetondemand says Mobilleo is also helping shore up the short-term range concerns of electric vehicles by encouraging drivers to go electric but with the back-up of the app’s alternative transport options for longer journeys that might still be difficult or a worry for drivers only recently moving to an electric car.
Highly Commended: Chevin Fleet Solutions
Chevin’s new Workshop Hub app gives fleets with in-house maintenance operations the ability to manage workload and monitor day-to-day activities to provide greater visibility of productivity and resource allocation.
The app impressed the panel because it fills a niche in the market, with one judge commenting that they could “really see the benefits”. The app can also produce manufacturer-specific inspection sheets, and will prevent paperwork from being filed until jobs have been completed.
Leasing and Contract Hire
Winner: Ogilvie Fleet
The company’s True Cost matrix won the Leasing and Contract Hire Innovation Award for Ogilvie, with one judge describing it as “simple advice on a level playing field; it made the savings really clear”. Another liked how the company is going further than some other lease companies are managing at the moment in illustrating the cost savings of electric vehicles.
The matrix uses information, including EV range, battery capacity and cost of electricity, to set out the entire running costs of EVs versus petrol or diesel counterparts, including a business’s National Insurance contributions and the corporation tax saving, to build a picture of the entire cost message about electric versus internal combustion engine.
It then uses the matrix to specify car policies, ensuring the online driver quotation system allows drivers to only select vehicles falling within their True Cost band. Ogilvie describes the approach as its “modus operandi” for the majority of its clients operating 50 or more vehicles.
Ogilvie claims that the matrix has helped “hundreds” of fleets to set company car policies, and the addition of the EV parameters has coincided with the company establishing what it has dubbed the Green Fleet Task Force, ensuring all staff are informed about the future of green vehicles, so they can support clients with introducing plug-in and full electric vehicles.
Service, Maintenance and Repair
Winner: Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions
The Service, Maintenance and Repair Award goes to Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solution’s proactive downtime management process, which offers a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week support system designed to keep vehicle downtime to a minimum.
Vehicle downtime is an increasingly serious issue for fleets, especially as vehicle replacement cycles are being pushed out due to problems with new vehicle availability. The company says its team works with customers to understand their operational schedules, and claims to achieve a 99.6% vehicle availability figure across its book of assets. That’s helped by a workflow management system designed to escalate any issues, and a team of engineers to support what the company describes as “complicated diagnosis issues, service failure investigations, parts delays and supplier improvement plans/audits”.
Hitachi’s incident management system features a bespoke dashboard that can be configured to customer requirements, with a real-time supplier feed and rules for escalation where required. The company’s team also tracks breakdown incidents from when they are reported, intervening if required to support customers.
Accident management is also now included in the reporting, which offers detail into which vehicles are off the road and why.
According to Hitachi, a targeted approach with 11 of its customers resulted in savings of £9m across maintenance, tyres, out-of-contract recharges and reduced downtime, while it says a sale-and-leaseback deal with a large commercial fleet this year has led to more proactive vehicle downtime management, improving the company’s fleet availability to 99% over the first half of 2021.
Winner: Aston Barclay
This was the tightest of all categories, with three entries favoured by different judges, and Aston Barclay just shading it thanks to its efforts to develop new digital technologies through the pandemic, as well as new levels of insight developed to help fleets make better-informed disposal decisions.
In July 2020 Aston Barclay actually set a new record for number of vehicles sold in a single month despite the pandemic restrictions, with 98% of the 12,148 sales coming digitally.
Indeed, during 2020, the company said its digital channel bids increased by 33%, while the total number of active bidders rose by 7%, and 77% of its sales were digital.
That helped the company record client wins including Carshop and Vantage, as well as a series of online auctions for Volkswagen Financial Services amid investment in both its Buyer’s App and e-Live auction process.
“I liked the story behind how they supported their client base through Covid, and the fact that they were able to successfully sell so many vehicles,” said one of the judges.
Aston Barclay’s entry was swelled by its new market intelligence report, which is designed to help analyse market movements and predict future trends. The company says it picked out that at one point, four-in-10 electric vehicles were unsold due to surging prices, which left consumers viewing the gap between EVs and petrol or diesel models as too high.
According to Aston Barclay, it used the data research to work with vendors on setting realistic reserves to help increase conversion rates.
Highly Commended: Adesa
Judges were particularly fond of the Adesa’s Intelligent Vehicle Inspection, which gives the ability to enable 10-minute self-inspection by drivers at the end of a contract using a smartphone or tablet. This produces a report in line with fair wear and tear standards, and also allows imagery and information to be uploaded earlier, enabling a quicker sale.
Clever use of artificial intelligence and learning from real-world events mean that VisionTrack is the winner of the CCT Innovation Awards Risk Management category.
The company launched its Autonomise.ai platform last year, and says it collected more than 194 billion data points across 4.6 million downloaded videos and 528 million miles of journeys, to then use what it describes as “leading algorithms, analytics and artificial intelligence to provide concise, actionable insights”.
VisionTrack claims that data collection and analysis allows it to identify scenarios and patterns in data to train camera devices to optimise performance, improve functionality and enhance detection capabilities, with the ultimate goal of preventing collisions before they happen.
The data collection also helps fleets flag-up potential problems, with VisionTrack highlighting as an example that during the first lockdown, speeding incidents increased by 2.61% despite a 22.6% reduction in miles driven.
According to the company, its customer Speedy Services has witnessed a 35% drop in collisions, improved detection of fraudulent claims against its fleet and 40% reduction in claim cost for at-fault collisions since deploying VisionTrack’s services. It also says another customer, LiveWest, is expecting to double its annual insurance rebate.
Looking to the future, VisionTrack has partnered with Humanising Autonomy on a project to empower vehicle camera technology to analyse and predict human behaviour to give drivers live vulnerable road user collision warnings.
The 2021 Company Car Today Innovation Awards rental prize goes to a company with a platform that is involved in far more than just rental, but integrates car into a wider platform, including car clubs, taxis, trains and other public transport via its Mobilleo mobility platform.
It’s a second 2021 Innovation Award for Fleetondemand, which claims it has access to more vehicles, locations and choice than any other rental provider. It says it acts as an intermediary to offer access to more than 1.6 million vehicles in 170 countries, including 600,000 from 2200 branches in the UK, with hire available from an hour to a year.
The company claims to have saved its customer Orchid Field Marketing over £10,000 on damage claims per year via its De-risk Light Damage Cover service, while it also says that switching to Fleetondemand saved a UK shipping firm 13% on its annual rental spend.
Highly Commended: Europcar and Nexus
Europcar introduced more flexible rental in the past 12 months, with three alternatives branded Flex, Superflex and Duoflex, giving a monthly subscription alternative to leasing.
Crucially, given new car production delays at present, Europcar says it can deliver within five days of an order. The company has also introduced a Delivery and Collection app, giving customers greater transparency of damage, fuel and mileage.
Nexus Vehicle Rental was also favoured by the judges, with the insight into driver behaviour via the company’s IRIS Management Information suite proving a popular feature. It gives data on fuel, mileage costs and fines for drivers, as well as damage claims and value. The system also generates text messages to drivers, reminding them to check for damage, refuel and sign paperwork when returning rentals, to reduce avoidable costs.
Winner: Webfleet Solutions
The ability to give genuine real-world insight into the operational performance of electric vehicles swung the Telematics Award in favour of Webfleet Solutions, with judges describing it as a “strong indictment” of the company’s moves to help fleets make the switch to EVs.
Webfleet says it recognises that action is needed from industry suppliers, as well as Government, to ensure a smooth transition to a zero-emission future, and has committed to what it describes as “sustained investment” into EV fleet innovations.
The big thing that impressed the judging panel was the ability to draw on information taken from incumbent vehicles to help judge potential real-world mileage capability of different electric vehicles. Giving fleet managers that information, which extends to different road types, helps them plan the right deployment of EVs with the right drivers.
That service is backed up by the Fleet Electrification Planning Report, which helps operators identify which of their petrol, diesel or hybrid vehicles could most easily be swapped for an electric vehicle.
Once on a fleet, Webfleet’s system can take real-time battery levels and remaining range data to help workflow planning, as well as allowing for pre-emptive maintenance. Charging point locations across 50 countries are also available, as is data on the best time to charge from a tariff cost point of view, in order to ensure the vehicle is fully charged when required.
Highly Commended: VisionTrack Autonomise.ai
Visiontrack’s Autonomise.ai platform was launched last year and the company says it has helped deliver road safety and risk management solutions through the pandemic. The system collects data to analyse and predict behaviour, with the aim of preventing collisions before they happen.
BMW takes the Editor’s Choice Award as a result of a pair of entries that impressed judges.
The My BMW app ran the eventual Best App winner Mobilleo about as close as any category was fought, with judges praising its breadth of useful functionality.
BMW has long been at the forefront of connectivity, and the latest iteration of its app works seamlessly in a series of ways designed to make life easier for busy working drivers.
As well as fundamentals such as syncing Outlook calendars to navigation so the address is prepped when the driver gets into the car, it adds current traffic, petrol or charging stations and parking options, while drivers can book service or repair appointments where desired. If roadside assistance is required, the vehicle’s exact location and status are available, with over-the-air assistance if it will help.
Vehicle pre-conditioning is a given, so the car is warmed or chilled ahead of departure, while the app will also enable drivers that swap between different BMW models to carry over their settings, including climate, media and seat position preferences.
And for fleets where multiple drivers re- using the same car, the app will allow an iPhone to act as a key for up to five different people, and can also set restrictions on maximum speed or radio volume for different users.
But BMW has also launched another innovation in the form of the UK’s first company car driver loyalty scheme. Called Inside Edge, the programme is designed to offer rewards and benefits across areas labelled My Work, My Journey, My Life and My World. Benefits include rewards from Costa, a chance to test other BMWs, discounts on the brand’s lifestyle products, access to the Expensify system and motivational thought-leadership speakers via Peptalk, with more additions as it develops.
It’s something no-one else is yet offering company car drivers, and is a pioneering development to keep an eye on.