Marc Preedy, Managing Director, Replacement Sales & Retread, Europe, at Goodyear
The fleet industry in Europe is facing monumental challenges.
From fuel prices to driver shortages, there’s plenty to keep our industry partners awake at night. But for many fleets, a problem that’s becoming increasingly worrisome is the need to replace vehicles nearing the end of their lives.
There are several factors making this process difficult, not least of all being the cost of replacement. With the cost of fuel crisis intensifying, difficulties in the availability of qualified and experienced drivers and plenty of fleets only just bouncing back from the pandemic, purchasing new vehicles might not be on the cards for some operators.
Another major challenge is the availability of the vehicles themselves. Right now, due to a number of supply chain delays, a fleet manager who orders a new van or commercial vehicle may be experiencing delivery delays.
As a result, many operators are opting – whether by choice or out of necessity – to refurbish their vehicles, as opposed to replacing them. A knock-on effect of this that we’ve seen is that customers are eager for ways of extending the lifespan of their existing vehicles. The aim of the game has become to get as much mileage out of an asset as feasibly possible.
But refurbishment doesn’t need to be treated a last resort. It can be just as viable as replacement at keeping fleets moving and improving a businesses’ sustainability credentials.
Goodyear’s own Sustainable Reality Survey has found that many fleets are actively working towards a greener future. Of course, one such way to achieve this would be to start using electric vehicles. But while the logic is sound, the reality is that many fleets just aren’t yet ready. Whether it be the cost of bringing in those vehicles that’s holding them back or installing the infrastructure to charge and maintain them, replacing a fleet right now might simply mean bringing in more vehicles that run on petrol or diesel.
There are other ways for operators who are opting for a refurbishment strategy to ensure their fleet is as environmentally friendly as possible. For instance, we’re seeing a huge amount of interest in re-treading, which is a perfect example. More and more fleets are considering these sorts of solutions, partly to get the most out of their existing assets but also to operate in a more sustainable way. Sustainable from an environmental perspective, by not simply discarding a used tyre, but also from a financial perspective, by eliminating the need to regularly buy brand new products.
Nobody knows when the new vehicle market will calm down, and with the financial challenges currently facing the industry, most fleets simply aren’t in a position to wait until new vehicles are available. They’re having to make changes now.
Adopting a refurbishment strategy early on, rather than waiting to see what happens in the market, makes a great deal of sense. The sooner something like a new tyre strategy can be brought into effect, the longer those vehicles are likely to be kept on the road, saving money, reducing down time and operating in as sustainable a way as possible. At the same time, why not get ahead and order EV’s if you have the opportunity to future-proof amid the current long waiting lists? It’s a question of protecting your fleet against the future, as opposed to waiting those shortages out and hoping for the best.
More customers than ever before are asking us for help meeting their own environmental and sustainability targets. While it’s encouraging to see members of our industry so eager to offset their carbon footprint, as suppliers, we need to understand how daunting these policies can be when you’re working to a tight budget, or you can’t get hold of electric vehicles.
At Goodyear, we’re rolling out flexible packages of next-gen products, digital tools and proactive support with maintenance, all as part of our Drive Results offering. It’s these sorts of initiatives that make refurbishing a fleet, as opposed to simply replacing it, just as viable a way of meeting those crucial targets.
The role of a solutions provider is changing rapidly. For us, it isn’t about simply supplying a tyre anymore – it’s about helping our customers navigate challenges and bringing something to market that will genuinely put some money back into their business. Refurbishing is key to that. When the option to replace a fleet of vehicles either isn’t feasible or simply isn’t there, we’re finding ways to step up, and ensure our customers making the absolute most of their assets.