Trans-Atlantic Electrification Trends: Will We See the Same in the US?

Gretchen ReeseAugust 26, 2021

It’s been a bit of a blustery one in Minnesota today – torrential rainstorms and even a severe thunderstorm warning earlier in the day.

It’s actually rather fitting I think – especially for today’s episode. My guest today is coming to us all the way from the UK, David Savage. And we all know that the UK is certainly famous for its rain, amongst many other things of course.

Now, David is the VP of the UK and Ireland for GEOTAB – you know how fond we are of those folks over here at Utilimarc – and I wanted to speak to him specifically about potential trans-atlantic trends that we’ve seen already take root in places like Europe and the UK, that have yet to or are currently in the process of making their way stateside. 

We’ll be speaking about electrification, sustainability (as per usual) and the entire movement at it’s core – because I know that sustainability isn’t just for those interested in electrification. There’s a little piece that everyone can take from this.

Stay tuned to the end, and you’ll even get to hear about one of my favourite aspects of this show – hearing all about how the diesel-powered London black cabs have started to move towards electrification.

Trans-Atlantic Electrification Trends: Will We See the Same in the US? | Fleet FYIs Podcast, Season 2 Episode 21

Gretchen Reese (00:06):

Hey there. Welcome to Fleet FYIs, the weekly podcast by Utilimarc that reveals how you can make the most of your data for smarter fleet management. My name is Gretchen, and every week you’ll hear from me and some of the industry’s finest in candid conversations that will shed some light on not only two decades worth of data insights, but some of the industry’s hottest talking points and key metric analysis with the aim to help you better understand your fleet from every angle.

Gretchen Reese (00:33):

But before we begin, if this is the first time you’ve heard our show, thanks for stopping by. I’m so glad you decided to come along for the ride with us, but I’ve got a quick favor to ask you, once you finish today’s episode, if you could take a few minutes to leave us a review on your favorite podcasting platform, we would really appreciate it.

Gretchen Reese (00:51):

Give us a rating, five stars I hope, or tell us what you liked or leave us a comment or a question about what you’ve heard in today’s episode. But if we haven’t yet covered a topic that you’re interested in hearing more about, let us know, we would be happy to go over it in detail in a later episode. If that sounds good to you, let’s get back to the show.

Gretchen Reese (01:17):

Hey there everybody, and welcome back to another episode of the Fleet FYIs podcast, how’s everyone doing today? It’s been a bit of a blustery one in Minnesota, you know, for most of the day, actually. You know, torrential rain storms, even a severe thunderstorm warning earlier in the day. And I actually… I was s- speaking to a colleague of mine and I couldn’t even believe just how dark it was outside, at just a quarter past two. It actually had almost seemed like the sun had already set.

Gretchen Reese (01:45):

I mean, the sky practically looked like it was Navy. It was insane. Um, but it’s actually rather fitting, I think, you know, especially for today’s episode. And perhaps you might’ve gathered a little bit of this from the title of this show, if you’ve already looked at it, which if you’re listening to it, I hope you have. But, why you might ask?

Gretchen Reese (02:04):

Well, my guest today is coming to us from the UK, Mr. David Savage. And we all know that the UK is certainly famous for its rain, amongst many other things, of course. And also, in case you didn’t know, I actually used to live in London. So this made for an incredibly fun episode to record.

Gretchen Reese (02:23):

Now, David is the VP of the UK and Ireland for Geotab. And you know how fond we are of those folks over here at Utilimarc. And I wanted to speak to him specifically about potential transatlantic trends that we’ve seen already starting to take root in places like Europe and the UK. And that have yet to, or are currently in the process of making their way stateside.

Gretchen Reese (02:47):

We’ll be speaking about electrification, sustainability as per usual and the entire movement at its core. But I do wanna point one thing out, because I know that sometimes sustainability can be a bit of a touchy subject, but I just really want to stress that, sustainability isn’t just for those interested in electrification.

Gretchen Reese (03:07):

I’ll bring in the resident word nerd again, sustainability at its core, basically means that you’re prolonging your organization, your fleet, your operations for as long as they can possibly go. So that actually will allow the movement to stretch all the way from oil and natural gas, even though it seems like people are pivoting away from that all the way to electrification. So there’s a little piece that everyone can take from this, right?

Gretchen Reese (03:29):

So I hope you’ll stay tuned to the end, because then you’ll even get to hear about one of my favorite aspects of this show, which is actually hearing all about how the diesel powered London black cabs have started to move towards electrification. Let’s dig in.

Gretchen Reese (03:55):

So today we are here with David Savage, the VP of UK and Ireland for Geotab. Hi, David, welcome to the show.

David Savage (04:04):

Hey, Gretchen, great to be here and to speak to you again.

Gretchen Reese (04:07):

So David, we’ve spoken a bit before, but for those of our listeners that are a little bit less familiar and don’t know of you just yet, um, could you tell me a little bit more about your background and some of the work you do at Geotab?

David Savage (04:21):

Sure. So le- let me start by giving you a little bit of background to Geotab just in case some of you or your listeners are unfamiliar with what we do. Uh, so at Geotab, we are you know, the largest fleet telematics business in the world. And what that means is that we support end customers across 130 odd countries now, uh, improve their operational efficiency, and more importantly now sustainability of their vehicle fleet. So that’s quite a high level, and I fully appreciate quite a corporate definition of what we do.

David Savage (04:48):

So let me try to break this down to, to something a little bit more tangible. Um, so at our base we have a, a pretty small electronics device that we can plug into pretty much any vehicle in the world, uh, and from this we can pull in a multitude of different data points related to vehicle performance and driver behavior, things like harsh braking, and also whether or not the driver is wearing a seatbelt or not, you know, from a safety perspective.

David Savage (05:13):

And this data that we pull really helps fleet managers to make kind of real-time decisions to, to enhance the performance of their vehicles under their management. Actually, our solution is now in use across just over 2.5 million vehicles across the globe. So pretty big, but it’s all about driving, you know, efficiency, um, particularly in more recent years, helping that switch to more, uh, sustainability when it comes to uh, fleet, uh, users.

David Savage (05:37):

And my role at Geotab is as you said, VP for the UK and Irish market. Uh, my remit extends across pretty much all aspects of the business from operations commercial, uh, through to people. But ultimately my objective is to, to grow the Geotab business in these regions, uh, along with the great team we’re, we’re building in this territory.

Gretchen Reese (05:57):

That’s fantastic. So, um, you mentioned sustainability a couple of times, and I’m curious if you could, because I know it can kind of be a big-ish, I’ll say topic to tackle, especially for fleets. How would you define the word sustainability? Because you know, most people immediately think of electric vehicles or alternative fuels or perhaps even, you know, you need to recycle rather than throw things away if they first think about it, but it’s more than that. Right?

David Savage (06:26):

Absolutely. And that’s a great question. Um, and I think with everything we all hear and read in the press and the news, you know, it’s very easy to conclude that sustainability equals electric vehicles. You know, we, we hear that quite a lot, but it’s absolu- absolutely more than just that. And sustainability has many different touch points.

David Savage (06:45):

But from a fleet perspective, sustainability can really be looked at through a few different angles, and all deliver wins for the organization. So firstly, let’s be honest, not all petrol diesel vehicles can be transitioned to electric vehicles at this point in time. Um, there’s going to be a marriage between, or a marriage within fleets of internal combustion engines that we’re all very familiar with, and the newer technologies related to electric vehicles probably for about the next decade or so, I would say.

David Savage (07:15):

But within the existing internal combustion engine vehicles, there are a few quick wins that, you know, users can put in place to really help reduce CO2 emissions. So things like reducing vehicle idling. So, you know, say a delivery driver’s pulled up outside your house, rather than leaving the engine running, switching it off can lead to significant savings over the course of a working day, and improving general driver behavior.

David Savage (07:37):

And, you know, I think probably things that we’re all guilty of, speeding, harsh braking, harsh acceleration on occasion can all lead to, into an increase in emissions. And the final point from a fleet perspective would be route optimization. You know, in our day-to-day lines, we use, you know, SatNav and GPS, and, you know, fleets use that as well to really optimize the routing of their, their vehicles.

David Savage (08:00):

Secondly, uh, it’s the introduction of electric vehicles into a fleet. So it’s very topical. And from our perspective, that Geotab is really needs to be a phased approach and very data-driven, uh, in, in deciding how to, to approach that.

David Savage (08:15):

So fortunately within Geotab, we’ve got years of experience in this regard, and we actually offer what we call our electric vehicles suitability assessment platform, which allows fleets to transition from internal combustion engine vehicles to suitable EVs at the right time. So we make a real u- real world recommendation based on the data inputs from that end customer, um, and build out that phase transition plan.

David Savage (08:39):

So what we find is that our data-driven approach really helps to build confidence and mitigate risk. You know, this is a big change for fleet operators. Uh, probably the biggest change. You know, one of the a- articles I read said this is probably the biggest change since Henry Ford introduced the car, you know, back that far. Uh, so this is pretty significant and, um, we’re fortunate in the world we exist today, that data is prevalent everywhere and can really help, uh, on that change.

Gretchen Reese (09:05):


David Savage (09:06):

And thirdly, fleets… Uh, sorry, Gretchen, I-

Gretchen Reese (09:12):

No, I was just agreeing with you. I, I totally agree with you on that one. Data is absolutely the key to doing all of this. Right?

David Savage (09:19):

Awesome. And yeah, the last point on that is, you know, if you’re looking at fleets and actually the wider businesses that they form part of, they’ll be looking at why the sustainable business practices like, you know, basic things like recycling, reducing staff travel to reduce the carbon footprint, becoming paperless in the office and you know, the list can go on and on and on, but all good stuff.

David Savage (09:39):

Um, I guess in summary, I would say sustainability is more than just EVs. As you know, we kind of touched upon your question. It really goes to the root of how our business and fleets will have to operate and ultimately will deliver environmental, societal, and economic benefits for all of the companies following that route.

Gretchen Reese (10:00):

Absolutely. And you know, that’s one thing that we tell a lot of our customers too. It’s like, you need to actually understand your data before you try and make a move that’s this big, and actually earlier on, um, you know, when fleet FYIs had just started, I was speaking with, um, someone by the name of David Meisel. He’s been on our show a few times, and he’s the EVP of Quanta Services based in Texas.

Gretchen Reese (10:19):

And he said the last time, you know, you had an engine overhaul, like you said, you know, when the Ford Model T was, um, introduced, he said the bigge- or the last time that the, a change this big happened was when you went from a horse to a car. It’s… I mean, it’s a completely different system that we’re working with here. And I’m curious, just from your experience, what do you think is one of the biggest, perhaps we could call it, a, a misconception about sustainability when you’re working with fleets that are trying to become more so?

David Savage (10:53):

Yeah. I think, you know, one of the, the watch outs for fleets looking to make the transition is to not make a knee-jerk reaction to it. You know, there’s a lot of pressure coming from government and society for fleets to make the transition, but ultimately it’s something that needs to be done right. Um, and there is almost this misconception that it needs to be done by a certain timeframe, and it needs to be done you know, in a certain way. Um, but actually it’s more important to get it done right.

David Savage (11:22):

And if that means that it takes just a fraction longer, then ultimately it’s gonna be more beneficial for a society and the businesses making those change. I think we’ve all encountered making knee-jerk reactions and then having to kind of course correct, or make the changes after the fact and the expense that can be involved in that, whether that’s in our professional or personal lives. So, you know, that’s the kind of advice I give to, to fleet managers.

David Savage (11:44):

Yes, you’re getting pressure, but hold firm, use the data to make the, the, uh, informed decisions and, um, make sure it’s real world data. So you can really stress test whether the vehicles you’re looking to bring into your fleet are actually gonna be able to deliver what you need.

Gretchen Reese (12:01):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Almost like the classic British phase of, phrase of, keep calm and carry on. Right? Um-

David Savage (12:08):

Yeah. Absolutely.

Gretchen Reese (12:10):

(laughs) I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen that on a postcard even here, and I just giggled myself every time I hear that. Cause I’m like, “You just see that everywhere. You see it everywhere now”. Good old Winston Churchill for that one. Um, so you were talking about some of the government regulations, and I’m curious if you could tell me a little bit about some of the regulations that perhaps you might see in London or even the UK as a whole, when it comes to sustainability and EV policy?

David Savage (12:37):

Sure. I’ll try to give you some insights there. So if we look at London, it’s very much been one of the, the early promoters of clean air initiatives and actually supporting the adoption of electric vehicles. So for example, the low emissions zones, which is essentially placing a charge on high polluting vehicles was first implemented in London in 2012, maybe 2013.

David Savage (12:59):

Uh, certainly around that date, has been pretty much a blueprint now for other cities, not just in the UK, but subsequently, you know, a- across the world. Um, and most importantly, I’d say, you know, these are actually making a real difference. There was certainly skepticism when they were introduced, uh, but research data suggests that reduction of carbon emissions is big as much as around 45 to 50% in London alone, which is pretty incredible.

David Savage (13:26):

And actually a more recent announcement and actually part of the UK government’s Road to Zero strategy is the ban on the sale of internal combustion engines, uh, by 2030. And ultimately that will ladder up to the ban of, uh, hybrids and bans by 2035, and heavy duty vehicles by 2040. So quite a lot of dates in there, but quite a lot of change coming.

David Savage (13:48):

And this is pretty significant because it leaves commercial fleet operators with less than a decade to transform their whole operations. And as we’ve, we’ve discussed there, this is the biggest sea change within commercial fleets from either horse and cart, Model T, you know, pick something that’s been pretty monumental and less than a decade to do it. So, you know, it’s, it’s a real march.

David Savage (14:10):

Um, but in order to really support fleets with this transition, the UK government has offered actually a pretty good array of incentives to make EVs more attractive to businesses. But I guess, kinda similar to the state financial incentive programs, you know, that we’ve, we’ve heard about in the USA and uh, Canada. The UK does offer some incentives to reduce the cost of EV acquisition, so for the vehicle initially, but also the purchase and installation of charging infrastructure, which is obviously a key component to, to electrification.

David Savage (14:40):

Um, and from our own analysis of the UK market, we’ve actually found that these financial incentives are really playing an important role in providing a compe- a competitive total cost of ownership compared to the internal combustion vehicles. And that’s actually been one of the, the concerns from fleets and individuals looking to transition it’s, “Jesus, this is more expensive than, you know, buy a, a petrol or diesel vehicle, is it really gonna be worth it?”

David Savage (15:05):

And you need to look at it slightly differently since total cost of ownership is the, the way that most fleets are looking at that now. And beyond those incentives, you know, their are exemptions in vehicle ownership, tax, free parking, uh, increasing expansion of public charging infrastructure. And these are all designed to really encourage that, that easy adoption. Um, and we’re starting to see that tipping point in the UK where the, the perfect storm of incentives, government mandates, et cetera, really starting to drive EV adoption where it’s growth of that sector is now, um, outperforming internal combustion vehicles in terms of sales, both from a consumer and a fleet perspective.

Gretchen Reese (15:47):

So can I ask, just for clarification, is the ban for internal combustion engine sales, so petrol and diesel vehicles, is that just for consumers or is that for commercial fleets too?

David Savage (15:58):

It’s all vehicles.

Gretchen Reese (15:59):

Oh okay.

David Savage (15:59):

It’s all vehicles. So, you know, it’s a pretty big change. Um, if you’re running kind of a, a car or a, you know, a light commercial duty or a, a white panel van, it’s not too bad, ’cause there’s new models coming into the market all the time. Um, where the biggest challenge I think is gonna come, is in they need the, the heavy goods or the truck sector, you know, even by 2040, the technology is still far behind what you’re seeing, uh, in the car and the ban side.

David Savage (16:25):

So, you know, we’re talking 18, 19 years for that. So there’s gonna have to be a real push on the technology there. And honestly, the biggest challenge is battery and range when you’re carrying tons, maybe hundreds of tons of cargo on the back of a, a, a wagon, so it’s, uh, it’s pretty challenging.

Gretchen Reese (16:42):

No kidding. I mean, and especially when you look at, you know, trucks that are just massive, you know, the cross country, um, or international trucking services that you might have. You know, how do you find one, a battery pack that can power all of that and carrying the you know, plethora of tons that you were mentioning? But then also, how do you find a charger?

Gretchen Reese (17:01):

And I was speaking to somebody the other day, how do you find a charger that is able to charge a vehicle like that, a battery pack like that, in such a timely way that you could plug it in, in the evening and it’s ready to go by morning. I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think those exist yet either.

David Savage (17:18):

They don’t exist yet. But if we look at the progress within the whole of the electric vehicle realm, whether there is vehicle charging infrastructure, battery range, battery life, et cetera, it’s all moving at an incredible pace. Um, you know, we’re seeing strong introductions of battery powered trucks by a number of manufacturers that are been tested at the moment.

David Savage (17:41):

Um, and I dare say that by the time we get closer to that mandate, certainly from a UK perspective of 2040, when even trucks will need to be electric, uh, or an alternative power source, that actually the battery range and the speed of being able to power those batteries or charge those batteries will actually mean it is something that is, it’s possible for use, uh, in a, in an actionable way. And it just isn’t at the moment. So there’s absolutely work to be done, but the rate of progress is incredible.

Gretchen Reese (18:11):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, I would agree with that. And it’s just, it’s been fascinating to see that change and to see it happen so quickly. And I remember the last time that we were talking, um, you know, we were talking about one of the most iconic vehicles, I would say in London to-date. And… You know, well, I should say maybe not the most iconic, perhaps the red buses might take the cake on that one.

Gretchen Reese (18:30):

But everybody who’s been to London or at least wants to go, or has seen pictures from the city, knows that the black cabs are one of the most well-recognized, um, cars that you can see driving on the roads. And they’re… You could almost consider them to be, you know, a symbol of the city itself. And rumor has it that you’re pretty involved with the mission of electrifying or at least hybridizing we’ll say each vehicle. So could you tell me a little bit more about that?

David Savage (18:57):

Sure. I played a small part. So let’s, let’s be honest about that, but it was coming back a few years now. Um, so at the time I was running a ride hailing platform, uh, in the UK, which was the number one competitor to Uber at the time, but focused exclusively on that iconic black taxi. That’s the only vehicle at that time you could get on, on the platform.

David Savage (19:17):

Um, going back, you know, at the time, we probably had about 80, 85% of all of the London black taxis using our platform, which was an app-based, um, platform, very much like you would see with an Uber or a, a Lyft. Um, but all of the taxis were diesel-powered, every single one of them. So not great for the environment, right?

David Savage (19:39):

And there was one manufacturer that came to market with a hybrid-range, extended vehicle. Uh, and, and at the time this was a real step forward, both in terms of being better for the environment, which is obviously very important, but also in terms of the, the passenger experience in terms of comfort. But there was a bit of reticence from the, the taxi drivers to, to take that leap into what was a bit of an unknown at the time.

David Savage (20:03):

And this is going back to around 2017, 2018, so not that long ago. But actually when it came to discussions around EV, et cetera, we’re still fairly embryonic um, at that point in time. Um, so you know, myself and the team at the time we worked on, you know, a number of different, uh, initiatives, uh, to try and essentially drive adoption within you know th- that, that taxi base.

David Savage (20:29):

So firstly, we worked on, you know, education pieces for the driver network, looking at cost savings, um, that they would realize actually from owning it. So that total cost of ownership piece I referenced earlier, as well as the environmental benefits. And then it was still very topical at the time. But looking to address, address rain chains IoT.

David Savage (20:49):

Uh, secondly, uh, we worked on driver guides. So this was very much about how to get the most out of driving an EV. I think for anyone who’s driven an EV the experience is a little different from driving a, a petrol or a diesel you know, car. How you need to interacting with the vehicle is different. Things like regenerative braking where you don’t use the brake pedal and the car slows itself to help recharge the battery, all of these things are quite, quite different.

David Savage (21:14):

Um, so we did that and then we also looked at, you know, alternative financing options. You know, it’s a big investment upfront to go and buy, you know, a pretty expensive vehicle that falls part of your livelihood. Um, so we worked with a company on a, a pay-per-mile scheme to help pay down the ownership of the vehicle, which made it a little bit more affordable rather than kind of typical purchase schemes, where there might be a balloon payment and then monthly repayments and then a bigger payment at the, at the back end.

David Savage (21:45):

And then also finally, we lobbied other manufacturers to, to produce, uh, another alternative vehicle for the market. Um, I guess, you know, looking back now a few years on reflection, I’d say probably the most successful of these initiatives was actually the driver education piece. And actually the one aspect that we couldn’t influence, but could share was actually the passenger feedback.

David Savage (22:09):

Some passengers love this new vehicle for the comfort, the fact it was environmentally friendly, uh, the fact that their businesses would allow it to be expensive, because it was environmentally friendly. And, um, that really helps you know, drive, you know, more of that adoption. And by the time I left that business two years ago, um, we had about 95% of all electric taxis available in London on the platform.

Gretchen Reese (22:37):


David Savage (22:37):

Um, so, you know, not all of those initiatives worked, but we certainly tried, and some of them paid off. Um, but ultimately, it’s the passenger that really drove it. The passengers loved it, wanted electrification, wanted the electric vehicle, liked the lack of noise in the back of the vehicle. And, um, yeah. I’d say it was more down to the, the passengers the many initiatives, uh, I worked on with the team at the time, but hey, that’s the way it goes.

Gretchen Reese (23:02):

Yeah, it absolutely does. You know, it’s actually kind of interesting, you know, and I’ve asked so many fleet managers this over the course of the last, I don’t know, year and a half. Um, you know, are all of your sustainability initiatives, are they, you know, driven because your executive has made a commitment that you’re trying to fulfill or is it, um, consumer or demand-based?

Gretchen Reese (23:21):

And a lot of times they’ll say it’s a mixture of both. But I still, I have a gut feeling that most of these sustainability pieces, a lot of them are consumer-driven, because what I’m seeing now, you know, at least in the US and in the UK when I’ve been, you know, there in previous years, a lot of people are starting to put their money where their mouth is, you know, so to say.

Gretchen Reese (23:41):

You know, like if they’re saying, “I wanna be environmentally friendly”. “Okay. Well only going to take, um, you know,” what do they call it now? An Uber Green or something like that? Um, only wanting to take electric vehicles if they’re renting a car, uh, trying to support businesses that have sustainable initiatives, that they can track the progress on. It’s kind of fascinating when you look at it like that. And great to hear that, that initiative was so driven by consumers.

David Savage (24:08):

Yeah. I, I completely agree that, you know, consumer power is, is really you know, a big driving force behind a lot of this, not just in terms of sustainability we’re seeing here, but, you know, pick another sector, whether it is house building. You know, people now want solar panels on their roof, uh, you know, more sustainable energy sources. So it’s, it’s not just within fleet telematics, it’s across the whole of society.

Gretchen Reese (24:30):

Absolutely. And, um, just for those that might not know, um, remind me again. So with the London black cab system, is it a fleet, as we would know, like say for example, New York City to have a fleet of yellow taxi cabs that drive around the city that all answer to one or a few, um, people that are managing them, or is it an individual-driver-based, you know, they own their taxi and they manage their own schedule?

David Savage (24:56):

Yeah. It’s, it’s a slightly different set up. So every taxi driver in London will be self-employed, uh, which is why that invest so that they were put into, you know, a new electric vehicle is pretty significant, you know? It’s, um, it’s, it’s a big chunk of change.

David Savage (25:12):

Um, but what you will find is in London, you know, taxi drivers will use a multitude of different platforms that are available to them. So various apps to you know, make sure they’re capitalizing on the, the maximum amount of that work. So a slightly different model from what you would see in New York.

Gretchen Reese (25:27):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay. So can I ask then, um, uh, just along the lines of sustainability, since we were speaking about that being so consumer-driven, um, just a bit ago, what do you think are some of the trends that will be, you know, the first of, let’s say, the ones that haven’t quite made um, the shift from, you know, UK and Europe market to um, the US or I should say North America? What do you think will be some of the first to cross the Atlantic in terms of sustainability trends?

David Savage (25:58):

Good question. Um, and just before joining you today, and I see President Biden’s kind of uh, put a mandate that 50% of all vehicles must be, uh, electrical hybrid. But I think it is by, you know, 2030. So, you know, I think that’s one step that’s already made its way across the, the Atlantic-

Gretchen Reese (26:16):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David Savage (26:17):

… um, which kind of aligns with, I would say, they’re kind of phasing out fossil fuel vehicles. You know, I think this will be a critical step, and we’re certainly seeing that in the UK more broadly across Europe. Um, you know, just looking at European perspective, UK, France, Norway have all mandated the phasing out of internal combustion engine vehicles.

David Savage (26:36):

Uh, and I think in the US, California is actually the first state to require that all new cars, uh, and passenger trucks must be zero emissions by 2035. I think that is.

Gretchen Reese (26:47):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David Savage (26:48):

Um, so, you know, I think that allied with the, the Biden announcement from, uh, earlier today, we’ll, uh, we’ll focus a few mines. So I think that’s one that’s kind of jumped across. I think what we’re also seeing in the UK and Europe is the sharing economy or the growth of the sharing economy. Um, which yes, has arguably taken a hit over the last 18 months, because we’ve all been in various stages of lockdown. Um, but I actually think it’s a, an a- an aspect of sharing that will be a, a key driver of sustainability moving forward.

David Savage (27:19):

So from a consumer perspective, particularly in large metropolitan cities, getting from A to B, we’re seeing it change. So local city initiatives are kind of discussio- discouraging, excuse me, single-person vehicle use, you know, they want multiple people in vehicles with a, a greater emphasis and investment on walking and cycling infrastructure, and introduction of clean air zones, which we touched upon earlier. Not all are gonna suit the large scale of cities in North America, but certainly some of these would be applicable.

David Savage (27:50):

And I guess, furthermore, you know, mobility is a service technologies are, are emerging. Really you know, reducing that need for ownership, you know, like car sharing, ride hailing, um, and from a fleet perspective, we’re certainly seeing a shift uh, towards the sharing of vehicles, and also the charging infrastructure when not in use.

David Savage (28:11):

Um, reservation technologies are coming to the fore, which I think will actually help promote the sharing economy, and reduce that waste and downtime of the vehicle. You know, we all know that if you own a vehicle that spends most of its time in your, your driveway, or parked in front of your house or apartment, and it’s not really being utilized.

David Savage (28:28):

So, you know, I think we’re seeing a lot more ride sharing, leading to greater utilization in urban uh, areas. I guess the other area would probably be renewables. So within the UK, we’ve been in the process of kind of decarbonizing our energy system for, I don’t wanna put a figure on it, let’s say a number of years, uh, and actually 2020 was our greenest year to date.

David Savage (28:53):

So I think we’ll expect that trend to really continue, which is significant for electric vehicles. You know, we know that battery electric vehicles produce zero… But they still produce emissions during production, which we sometimes forget about, charging the vehicle and also at the end of their life.

David Savage (29:12):

Um, and utilizing these renewables, whether it’s solar, wind, you know, geothermal, all stuff, you know, that it’s, uh, out in the market or certainly coming to market in terms of producing electricity, I think will help reduce fuel cycle, uh, emissions. And, uh, particularly from an EV perspective.

David Savage (29:31):

And I guess a good example would be the renewable only EV charging tariff that utility companies are putting out into market today in, in the UK, and we’re starting to see more broadly across Europe. So quite a lot going on here that I’m sure, you know, it’s not all of it will be applicable, but some of them can certainly make its way uh, over the, over the seat.

Gretchen Reese (29:51):

I think that’s gonna be fascinating to see, and, you know, actually something kinda funny when you were mentioning, trying to change the focus to be more on like a cycling or, you know, walking from A to B. Um, you know, when I was growing up and, you know, still to this day, my parents and I would always be like, “Oh, well, if we can go and we can walk, well, let’s walk”.

Gretchen Reese (30:11):

Because one, parking in a city is hectic and crazy and you know, where I live, there is no parking to be had on the street. And if there is, you’re lucky and usually it’s because someone just pulled out of the space, you know, in front of you. But so many friends of mine that have grown up, you know, in the suburbs, so, you know, in the UK, it might be, um, the equivalent of, you know, maybe Surrey to London or even something along the lines of like a Grantham or Midlands to London, no one walks anywhere.

Gretchen Reese (30:40):

I mean, I grew up in a city my whole life and walking is kind of like, “Well, if I can, I’m gonna do it”. But so many of my friends are like, “No, it’s about three streets away. Let’s drive, I’d rather park and find something else to do because it’s hot and the car has, you know, air conditioning in it”. And they don’t wanna deal with the humidity, which here we do have a lot of.

Gretchen Reese (30:59):

And I’ve always found that very, very funny, just, just the thought that, you know, there’s a lot of people that would rather drive even if it’s a shorter distance, but now with the emphasis, hopefully, on sustainable vehicles and, you know, maybe even just getting out and doing something good for your health could be interesting too.

David Savage (31:17):

Yeah. I think that’s a good point and on that Surrey to London example you referenced there. So I live outside of the, the city and I’m one of those people who’ve been guilty of. “Yeah, it’s only… It’s you know, it’s a five-minute drive or it’s a 15-minute walk, so I’ll take the car”. You know but-

Gretchen Reese (31:31):

Oh, David.

David Savage (31:32):

I actually think, you know, one of, one of the, one of the, the silver linings or upsides from COVID has been, this you know, greater desire to improve physical fitness-

Gretchen Reese (31:44):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David Savage (31:44):

… and mental wellbeing from getting exercise, and suddenly around where I am, where I live, I’m noticing a lot more people walking, using bikes, um, scooters, uh, to actually navigate around. So I think there’s a little bit of a change there, a little bit of a change.

Gretchen Reese (31:59):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). I always say here at least I’m based in Minneapolis and we have a lot of bus routes going in, and they’re putting in a lot of, um, bike lanes on the sides of roads, and it’s decreasing parking, which, I mean, for me, is fine because I prefer to walk anyways in most of the places I need to go, other than, you know, going into my corporate office, I can walk too.

Gretchen Reese (32:20):

And, you know, there’s plenty of parking near where I live, but you know, other parts of the city there just isn’t, and it’s almost kind of like the, um, I don’t know if it’s intentional or unintentional. But it’s that bit of a push, that over the last year, kind of like you said, you know, you’re noticing more people starting to get out walking, more people getting out biking or cycling and, you know, just almost, I don’t wanna say leaving cars in the dust because that’s not true, but there’s definitely a shift there and it’s definitely noticeable.

Gretchen Reese (32:50):

But I will say I do have my best question for you saved for last, and just to wrap it up and go full circle in terms of sustainability.

David Savage (32:59):


Gretchen Reese (32:59):

So when it comes to sustainability and driving innovation from like we were talking about earlier, diving into your data, what aspect of data monitoring would you say that you would look into first?

David Savage (33:11):

Okay. Um, let’s say, you know, first and foremost, data, and more importantly, the insights that can be derived from the data, is probably the most important element for organizations to understand the starting point, and navigate where they need to go to.

David Savage (33:30):

You know, all businesses, regardless of the, the industry, ultimately have ambitions to reduce their carbon footprint. But to do this, you know, you really need to understand where you are today before you can decide where you need to go to. And it’s kind of as we referenced a little bit earlier on.

David Savage (33:48):

Now, if we put this into the context of Geotab, and more importantly the fleets that we, we, we support, you know, the role of data is really split into, to various key pillars, which is actually how we do our, our kind of business innovation within Geotab. So our, our pillars are related to compliance, expandability, optimization, productivity, um, safety, and ultimately sustainability, which is one of our, our newest pillars.

David Savage (34:15):

You know, looking at a, at a, at a ground level, electrification is taking place across you know, the UK. However, we’re still at very much the early stages of this. And it’s gonna take a number of years as we touched upon earlier to kind of reach that 100% electrification there’s gonna have to be a marriage of the two, uh, probably for the next decade.

David Savage (34:36):

And, you know therefore, the goal is really to reduce vehicle emissions, not only by electrifying, but also looking at the remaining internal combustion vehicles we, we discussed earlier. And going back to those simple wins that I referenced that data can help inform. So by laying improving driving behavior, cutting down on harsh braking, et cetera.

David Savage (34:57):

One of the challenges facing you know, the fleet industry today around electrification is procuring EVs, but also once they’re procured actually the ongoing vehicle management, and this is where data can play actually a really significant role.

David Savage (35:11):

So, you know, switching to an EV is not a like for like replacement. I think we’ve, we’ve kind of identified that now. And it gives rise to new questions such as battery range capabilities. You know, in other words, will the EV be able to do the same daily mileage as the, my tried and tested, you know, petrol or diesel vehicle?

David Savage (35:29):

Um, and you know, this is where our EVSA that we touched upon earlier can really help with that. ‘Cause we can gather all of the data points that our fleet might have based on how they’re operating their fleet today, plug it into the EV tool, um, and then get a recommendation on the back of that. And then once those vehicles are in the fleet actually support on operating those in the most efficient way possible.

David Savage (35:53):

And this is where new data points start to come to the floor. So things like real-time state of charge of the vehicle, knowing when the vehicle needs to be charged or when charging is complete. Um, and whether you want to charge that vehicle to a 100%, which might degrade the battery slightly, or a bit like our smartphones, whether you really want to charge it between 20 and 80% to maximize the life of the, the vehicle.

David Savage (36:17):

Um, and then there’s other data points that are really interesting when it comes to EV and sustainability, that impact the range of vehicles, stuff that we don’t always consider. So things like, uh, the temperature outside, headwinds, tailwinds, tire pressure. You know, these are all new data points that we, we’re all aware of, but haven’t really factored into our day-to-day existence as it stands at the moment.

David Savage (36:43):

So I guess, you know, to, to kinda summarize that or try to summarize that, the key here would really be that no matter where anyone is on the electrification journey, data can really help unlock, and actually provide an evidence-based approach to adopt sustainability measures, um, that will really help the organization that you’re representing me as a whole.

Gretchen Reese (37:06):

Absolutely. So, uh, David, before we wrap up the show, is there anything else you’d like to add, whether it’s sustainability, iconic black cabs from London or anything else?

David Savage (37:20):

Um, what do I want to say. Sustainability isn’t going anywhere. You know, we’ve all got a part to play in that, to you know, our personal and professional lives, um, it is an exciting journey. You know, we’re doing something ultimately for the betterment of the next generations and, you know, I got a daughter and would like her to have a, you know, a really nice, uh, environment to live in going forward.

David Savage (37:41):

But when you’re making decisions, don’t make those knee-jerk reactions uh, when it comes to sustainability or anything else. Research, find the right partner or partners, and use data to really derive those valuable insights to help mitigate risk now, and in the future.

Gretchen Reese (37:59):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely. I 100% agree. And you know, David, I have a feeling that there’s gonna be at least a few people that are gonna wanna cont- uh, continue this conversation outside of Fleet FYIs. So outside of the show, where can people get in touch with you?

David Savage (38:15):

Awesome. So when it comes to Geotab more generally, have a look at our website, we’ve got a great YouTube channel with loads of cool videos on there. Um, and if anyone would like to reach out to me, then yeah, feel free to contact me uh, through LinkedIn or my email address is davidsavage, all one word

Gretchen Reese (38:32):

All right. Sounds good. Well, again, David, thank you so much for um, coming onto the show today. We’ve really enjoyed having you and it’s been great to chat again.

David Savage (38:41):

Great Gretchen. Always great to talk to you.

Gretchen Reese (38:56):

One thing about David, he certainly knows his stuff, especially when it comes to electrification and the sustainability movement in itself. I hope you guys enjoyed this episode and with travel starting to return, maybe it’s made you a little bit curious about perhaps trying out a trip to the UK and seeing the electrified black cabs for yourself. You never know.

Gretchen Reese (39:16):

But travel aside, I think it’s pretty interesting. You know, this shift towards keeping sustainability at the core of everything that we’re doing in business and everyday life. And even in things like travel and transport, it’s gonna be a huge key to, going forward in the future.

Gretchen Reese (39:34):

What did you think of these transatlantic trends that might find their way stateside, perhaps sooner than maybe we originally thought? I’m curious to hear from you, send me an email, tag me on LinkedIn, or use the #utilimarcfleetFYI so I can see your post. I’d love to see what you’re thinking, and perhaps if you feel like these may catch on in the US or not. But until next week, that’s all from me. I will see you again on Thursday. Ciao.

Gretchen Reese (40:01):

Hey there, I think this is the time that I should cue the virtual high five, because you’ve just finished listening to another episode of the Fleet FYIs podcast. If you’re already wanting more content, head over to, which is Utilimarc with a C, for the show notes and extra insights coming straight from our analysts to you.

Gretchen Reese (40:22):

That’s all for me this week. So until next time, I’ll catch you later.

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Gretchen Reese

Growth Marketing Manager

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