Fuel Management and More Attracts Investors to Fleet
Over the past decade, the trucking industry has been forced to re-evaluate their business model based on a growing interest and rampant use of technology for everything from fleet fuel management and mileage tracking, to compliance and fleet payment. 2017 seemed to kick off the trend with the biggest year yet for investment in trucking tech, and 2018 has shown no signs of slowing.
It may very well have been Tesla’s all-electric Class 8 autonomous truck that inspired and attracted investors. High profile orders from retail giant Walmart and DHL highlighted the interest and launched the momentum. Investors are interested in everything from autonomous vehicles to fleet mobile. Venture capitalist (VC) companies are even interested in backing technology that can help make the job easier for drivers.
TuSimple, an autonomous truck technology startup in San Diego and founded in 2015, aims to improve drivers’ working conditions to reduce truck accidents on highways by up to 75%. Its ecosystem also decreases fuel waste by as much as 7%, according to the company.
The company’s mission is to develop and leverage autonomous driving capabilities to help the driver at the wheel by taking over the driving in certain conditions. Their hope is to mitigate the human error and make the roads safer for everyone including the drivers.
“Human error and driver fatigue account for a large portion of truck accidents. TuSimple is proud that our research and development efforts can help bring innovation to the trucking market and make the roads safer for everyone,” Mo Chen, CEO of TuSimple.
So why are these VC and private equity (PE) investors attracted to the trucking industry to start with? While it might seem likely that investors are interested in the potential of fleet mobile since these drivers are on the road constantly or fleet fuel management for the same reasons, the surprising motivation seems to be geared toward safety.
Why Technology is a Smart Investment for the Trucking Industry
1. Improving Safety
Truck driver fatigue is a serious issue in the trucking industry, and it doesn’t just affect employees and the business; it also puts other drivers and pedestrians in danger. Collision avoidance systems, proximity detectors, and other safety techniques can reduce the risk of collisions with other vehicles, structures, or people on the road. Thanks to today’s technology, trucks are coming equipped with more and more safety features that can prevent accidents and save lives.
2. Increasing Efficiency
Injecting your business with a boost of efficiency is always helpful, and modern technology can do just that. GPS systems will help long-distance drivers figure out where they need to go without stressing out, and modern two-way radios allow for better communication between drivers and dispatchers. Keeping up with the latest trends in technology can give your business an edge regardless of your industry.
3. Confidence for Drivers
Aside from improving safety and efficiency, technology can help workers in the trucking industry in a few simpler ways. A radio or stereo system with an auxiliary input allows a truck driver to plug his or her media player in and listen to favorite songs throughout the route. Even Bluetooth headsets allow drivers to talk to their families while they’re away for long periods of time.
EFS is Driving Innovation
Whether it is safety, productivity, or driver security, all arrows point to efficiencies in innovation. Investors are looking for companies that are efficient in every aspect of business and fortunately for the trucking industry, companies like EFS are helping in that effort. From innovative fuel management systems to streamlined and seamless payment, EFS makes the AP process more efficient and more accurate so that the company can be more successful — exactly what is attracting investors. VC has invested over $1 billion in trucking start-ups since 2017. It is not clear what the total for 2018 will be as of yet, but it is sure to be just as significant. It is clear that the interest goes beyond vehicle safety. Mobile tech for fleet and software systems like those offered by EFS have also entered the market and given rise to a more efficient and innovative industry. Investments in efficiencies all along the supply chain are providing the industry with the tools to help make their companies more productive and profitable. Fleet mobile tech and fuel management software is growing, but a recent study on B2B payment indicated that automation in payment systems has become a priority for every industry – especially the trucking industry.
Automation emerged as the undeniable driver of accounts payable enhancements, cited by 49 percent of survey respondents – even more so than security and cost. Most (58 percent) said their top priority is to automate invoice delivery and capture, beating out migrating paper documents to digital formats (cited by 52 percent of respondents).
Investments in B2B payments in accounts payable and accounts receivable processes are growing, with companies like EFS helping to bring innovation in those areas to the trucking industry. At the intersection of payment, data and technology, EFS offers a comprehensive AP system that utilizes tech to power insights, efficiencies and growth. Powerful tools like fuel cards, fleet cards, fleet mobile and money transfer along with data analytics generated from these tools allow companies to make decisions faster, smarter and better.
It is clear that an investment in the trucking industry goes beyond autonomous trucks and fleet fuel management. Smart investing enables progress for the industry, but also aides in innovative and forward-thinking strategies in the world that relies on the industry —that means progress for all industries.