Why Car Rental Companies Might Push For More AI-driven Vehicle Inspection Tech
Rising input costs play havoc with auto maintenance efficiencies
The rise in artificial intelligence in the transportation industry, especially in areas of fleet management that involves rental vehicles, has certainly grabbed a great deal of headlines in the trade media. Granted, much of the attention has been steered towards futuristic autonomous autos and cloud-based data mining so that companies can grab everything they can find out about their consumer bases.
However one area that simply hasn’t captivated as much interest, save for those immediately affected by the onset of new technology, has been in areas involving vehicular inspection. Despite the strides made in the field, especially over the past year, the introduction of AI can’t arrive fast enough.
That’s the speculation being raised in the wake of concerns that costs of maintaining fleets are rising faster than inflation due to a number of factors that include more complicated engines and decline in skilled labor due to demographic shifts.
“The key differences impacting maintenance costs today are skilled labor shortages combined with advancements in vehicle technology,” said Kelley Hatlee a technical support supervisor for Enterprise Fleet Management in an interview with news site Automotive Fleet.
“As a result, the need for technical skills is growing as the number of experienced technicians decreases, leading to very competitive wages among technicians. The increase in labor costs translates to higher shop labor rates. And as vehicles become more complex, the industry time standards for many repairs will increase.”
It hasn’t helped that increased competition, especially in the rental car business, has prompted players to make their prices more competitive for consumers. That however, has made it harder for fleet companies to cover those rising costs, especially with much of the technology coming out is geared towards tracing consumer behavior. The fact that vehicles are built much better these days has also cut down on accidents and other wear-and-tear costs.
That’s helped stabilize costs per vehicle annually, until 2018, when they started spiking, with the car’s technological complexity and labor shifts starting to come into play. Compounding those costs have been a rise in vehicles requiring synthetic oil and a spike in tire prices.
Turning to advanced technology to mitigate those costs are already works in progress. With eyes on improving fleet management, Enterprise recently announced a joint venture with high-tech firm Entegral to at least speed up the process of insurance claims related to accidents. Closer to those inspection front lines has been the use of artificial intelligence on vehicle inspection by UVeye, which has come up with solutions for industry partners Toyota and Volvo. And Avis recently teamed up with Ravin to create inspection technology to help contain those rising maintenance costs.