This week we attended Fleet Live at the NEC in Birmingham for the first time. Our aim was to explore what’s going on in the world of fleet driver training and what can driving instructors get involved with.

Entering the show with an open mind, we were surprised to see such a broad range of businesses, offering such a wide range of products.

Driver Training

The usual suspects such as DriveTech and TTC were in attendance, along with RED Driving School who have recently launched a new fleet driver training service.

To support the traditional hands on training, there was a slew of new tech providers, who provide tracking solutions for company cars. A little big brother maybe, but a good idea if you’ve invested in those assets.

Perhaps the most interesting product range there was the in cab recognition tools, which can sense when a driver is using a phone, smoking a cigarette or even drowsy and alert the driver and the central control room.

Plug in options for second hand cars which don’t have lane departure warnings or collision warnings, were also popular.

The Cars

Some of the big manufacturers also had a large presence, with the likes of BMW, Ford, Honda, Seat, Toyota & Volvo all showcasing their mid-larger sized models. It was noticeable how the focus has shifted away from pure power and performance to sustainability and alternative fuels. Everywhere you looked you could see an electric charging point!

BMW were showcasing the new 3 series, with the model on display the 320x. It certainly drew a fair bit of interest, unsurprisingly as the 3 series has been a staple amongst company car drivers for many years.

The Mini Electric Concept was a stunning example of what we might possibly be driving in the coming years, with a very robotic look, but the front end had undoubtedly been designed to look like a face!

Ford had the new 2018 Ford Focus, which I’m sure will be popular with driving instructors and the general public. The model was the ST line and it’s a formidable proposition, with an updated chassis, sharper looks and somehow an increase in cabin space. In fact the leg room in the back has been increased by approx 4 inches according to the team at the show, with no compromise in boot space (sounds small but that’s quite the achievement).

Honda stood out as the only manufacturer at the show not really pushing the EV or Hydrogen fuel options. The widely positively received Civic and CR-V had the limelight on their stand.

Seat led with their FR models of the Ibiza, Leon Tourer and the Ateca.

Whilst most brands focused on EV and Hybrids, Toyota had the new Mirai model, which is Hydrogen powered. The hydrogen fuel is essentially pumped in as you would with petrol and diesel, but only emits water vapour. How clean that water vapour is, is a question for another day!

The Volvo stand was a corporate dream, with every big saloon, SUV in there range. No room at the show for the Volvo v40, so not many cars in that lineup will be seen with a rooftop box.

Final words

In summary the event was a great showcase of what is available to businesses to help make their fleet drivers better and safer drivers. There is no doubt technology is being used more and more to support that development.

The mix between focus on EV vs Hydrogen fuels will be an interesting watch in the coming 12-18 months and we’ll be looking into this more in the coming weeks.

If you are looking for other avenues to increase your earning potential or just looking to diversify your day to day, fleet training is a great way to step outside the box.