Fleet managers have their work cut out keeping operations running smoothly. After all, there's general maintenance to consider, business decision makers to answer to and the needs of customers have to be given precedenc as well.
Moreover, there are a raft of financial figures and statistics to be reconciled – especially if the company is to ensure that it's getting the most from its fuel cards. However, there are some factors that are
A total of 21,280 vehicles were stolen across New Zealand in 2014.
simply out of the hands of the average fleet manager.
For instance, if a vehicle is stolen, it can severely limit the company's ability to deliver on its promises from a wider business perspective. While it may sound like a rare occurrence, vehicle theft in New Zealand is, unfortunately, relatively common.
In fact, research published by New Zealand Police explained that some 21,280 vehicles were stolen up and down the country in 2014 – an increase over the previous year and a significant amount more than the record low 17,807 noted in 2012.
So, what can fleet managers do to protect themselves, and avoid having any of their vehicles become part of those statistics? Well, the general positive news is that modern security systems – such as complex alarms and immobilisers – mean that it's becoming increasingly difficult for criminals to steal vehicles.
In fact, the New Zealand Police figures do show a general decrease in the number of vehicle thefts over the past couple of decades. That general trend is certainly due in part to the work of automotive manufacturers, but it could also be down to an increased amount of savvy from drivers, too.
Naturally, locking vehicles when they're left alone is a must, but more people are becoming aware of the dangers when even stopping temporarily. For example, casual motorists and fleet drivers alike appear to be well aware of the issues posed by thieves at service stations, when leaving a car, van or truck unlocked for a minute or two may be all that's required for a particularly opportunistic thief.
So, while there's certainly a bigger understanding in the wider community of how to combat vehicle theft, are there any developments on the horizon that could change some of those aforementioned statistics for the better?
Bio-technology and security
Well, automotive giant Ford has recently patented a piece of bio-technology that could well be incorporated into the security systems of its vehicles in the future. BiometricUpdate.com explained that the company first devised the system back in 2012, but was only granted permission to use it exclusively and make it their own in January 2015.
So, how does it work? Well, as the name suggests, bio-technology security systems would require unique data from the driver to allow the vehicle to function. The patent granted to Ford covers everything from retinal scans to fingerprint and voice recognition systems.
Most likely, and perhaps the most robust from a security perspective, is a system that encompasses all of these elements and builds a unique profile of the vehicle's owner. In the long term, it appears as though the ultimate aim of Ford – and many other vehicle manufacturers for that matter – will be to eliminate the need for keys altogether.
The concept has already been proven to an extent in consumer tech, with smartphones and laptops including fingerprint scanners. However, while it's likely to be largely adapted and included in many new vehicles going forward, the amount of time it will take bio-technology systems to become the norm remains to be seen.
However, the benefits it offers to security are increasingly wide-ranging, and will likely be part of the reason both individuals and fleet managers demand it as a feature of their vehicles in the not too distant future.