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Replacing Your Fleet: What to Do About Vehicle Shortages

Supply chain issues have hit close to home in the last two years. The automobile industry has been one of the chief industries affected. If you’re an individual motorist and own a dependable car, that’s not such a big deal. But if you’re a fleet manager concerned about fleet replacement schedules and maintaining the safety of your drivers and cargo, it’s another story.

In this article, we discuss what you can do about vehicles that are nearing the end of their useful life while inventory shortages abound. Start your engines, this one could get a little bumpy.

Understand the Factors That Are Causing Vehicle Shortages

One of the primary factors causing vehicle shortages in the United States is a chip shortage. Chips are essential components of modern vehicles, and the pandemic has resulted in a decrease in production as factories have been forced to close.

The chip shortage has been exacerbated by a general increase in demand for vehicles, as people have been seeking alternatives to public transportation during the pandemic. In addition, the rise in e-commerce has led to an increase in demand for transportation, as more goods are being shipped across the country.

As a result of these factors, vehicle shortages are expected to continue for the foreseeable future. However, you can form a response plan to get through it, as you’re about to see.

Evaluate Your Fleet and Identify Which Vehicles Need to Be Replaced

Create a fleet schedule that shows your “problem” vehicles or those considered “soon-to-be.” Your fleet replacement schedule should consist of the following: 

  • Vehicle model
  • Year the vehicle was put into service
  • Estimated miles until a major overhaul is required
  • Miles driven per year
  • Number of years the vehicle can be expected to remain in service

From this data, you should be able to identify which vehicles will need to be replaced in the near future.

Make Allowances On Your Fleet Schedule For Current Market Conditions

When developing a fleet replacement schedule, keep current market conditions at the forefront to ensure the most efficient and effective utilization of resources. Consider the current economic climate to ensure that any new vehicles purchased are affordable and will not put an undue financial strain on the company.

Plan for the surge in fuel prices when making decisions about which vehicles to purchase as well. These can make a significant impact on operational costs.

Additionally, the political landscape needs to be considered. Government policy can change at any time, which could impact the viability of certain types of vehicles. It’s also important to stay up-to-date with advancements in vehicle technology, as this could present opportunities to purchase more fuel-efficient or environmentally-friendly vehicles that would be beneficial for the company in the long run.

Look for Creative Solutions to Vehicle Shortages

If you find yourself in a situation where there are simply no vehicles available on the market that meet your needs, it may be necessary to get creative.

One solution is to purchase older vehicles that are no longer in production but are still roadworthy. These can be refurbished and brought up to current safety standards. This option may be more expensive in the short term, but it could ultimately save money if it allows you to avoid purchasing new vehicles that may become obsolete quickly.

It also keeps you moving. For logistics companies, in particular, a parked vehicle is one that’s costing the company money through lost revenue. Refurbished vehicles may not last quite as long, but they could get you through the challenge of chip shortages.

Order Replacement Vehicles as Soon as Possible to Avoid Delays

Get on the waiting list. Communicate regularly with the manufacturer to stay updated on when you can expect replacement vehicles to arrive. This will also help you maximize the productivity of existing vehicles and any older models that you have to put into service.

Learn from the Challenges

No one expected the country (and the world) to shut down in March 2020. No one expected Russia to declare war on Ukraine. We live in unprecedented times, and we can no longer afford to think that it can “never happen to us.”

As a fleet manager, the lesson is clear. Take the lessons you’ve learned over the last two years and apply them everywhere you can. Work to extend the useful life of your older vehicles. Act quickly to order new vehicles or get needed maintenance actions checked off. Expect the unexpected, and don’t be wasteful or speculative when you get ahead.

Planning and Action Are What It Takes

Vehicle shortages are nothing new. In the 1970s, there was an oil crisis that caused a spike in fuel prices and a decrease in the availability of vehicles. But today’s crisis is being driven by different factors. Understanding those factors and forming a plan of action around them can help you and your company through the uncertain times ahead.

J&A Fleet Maintenance understands the market inside and out. We are a top provider of fleet data services to businesses in Morris, Wilmington, Joliet, Shorewood, Gardner, and nearby cities in Illinois. We’re also active in the Tampa area, as well as St. Petersburg, Sarasota, and throughout the state of Florida. Reach out with any questions that you may have, or schedule a call to begin your savings today.

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