2020 was certainly an unprecedented year for businesses of all sizes and industries of all kinds. For some, we’ve championed their successes and mourned the undoing of others. But as we begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel, there are still many unknowns that remain as we try to anticipate what 2021 will bring. While this past year has proven that nothing is ever set in stone, there are some emerging trends that suggest things may be looking up for a handful of industries. What will this new year look like, especially for those businesses who lease fleets for regular operations?

The Bancorp has rounded up fleet-related predictions that business leaders should be aware of this year. Read on for a glimpse into 2021:

Electric vehicles will soon be the norm.

Electric vehicles (EVs) have been talked about for years when it comes to passenger cars, but as this technology revs up nationwide, business leaders have been left wondering when EVs will be available at scale for fleets. 2021 may be the year that commercial EVs become more of a reality, with options for pure-electric vans and pickup trucks coming to market in the coming months and years.

As for how this plays out in the long term, while gas-powered vehicles won’t exactly become a relic of the past like DVD players or home phones, we anticipate the majority of new vehicles sold will be electric in the next 20 years. If so, there could also be a huge impact on gas stations across the country, which may be forced to adjust if EV technology continues to improve over time and battery life becomes longer-lasting.

We are already seeing entrants into the red-hot race of long-lasting, fast-charging batteries. Tesla, a market leader and industry change agent, recently released its new battery plans that will make its batteries six times more powerful and increase vehicle range by 16%. The new batteries will reportedly be more cost-effective to produce, as well. And most recently, QuantamScape, a startup backed by Bill Gates, announced that its solid-state battery can charge to 80% capacity in 15 minutes or about half the time required for Tesla's newest Superchargers.

All that said, keeping an eye on these trends will be essential this year.

Digital transformation of fleet management will be front and center.

EVs won’t be the only interesting technology on the block this year. For one, telematics has been sweeping the conversation in fleet management — and for good reason. The technology allows fleet operators to increase safety, reduce cost, promote greater productivity, and create more efficient route dispatching through data analysis. As businesses that operate fleets are starting to realize these benefits, we expect telematics will be a huge trend. As the technology continues to evolve and get smarter, it will be interesting to keep an eye on developments in telematics in 2021.

Additionally, technologies like radio-frequency identification (RFID) are being installed and integrated in vehicles to promote faster and more efficient maintenance. For example, RFID allows for cardless fueling at the gas pump and at national service facilities, which eliminates the need for companies to issue credit cards to the employees driving these vehicles.

As 2021 progresses, we anticipate the fleet landscape will continue to evolve for businesses of all sizes. What’s more, new technologies like EVs and telematics will bring huge value to this space in the future. Keeping an eye on these trends and more will help ensure your business is prepared for the new year and beyond.

The opinions, findings, or perspectives expressed in this content are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of The Bancorp, Inc., its affiliates, or its or their employees.