The GM Envolve Solutions Summit on April 25 offered both the fun and the practical among many test drive choices for fleet managers at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway: Lines of Chevrolet Corvettes...

The GM Envolve Solutions Summit on April 25 offered both the fun and the practical among many test drive choices for fleet managers at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway: Lines of Chevrolet Corvettes and BrightDrop ZEVO electric delivery vans.

Photo: Martin Romjue / Bobit

One engaging way an automotive manufacturer can spur interest in its vehicles is to host a theme-park-style ride event at a major NASCAR speedway.

Except in this attraction, the scene wasn’t just one for looky-loos. Attendees zoomed real vehicles down raceways where they careened, screeched, lurched, whisked, and floored the test vehicles with a sense of thrill and abandon — a less-controlled adult version of Disney’s fabled Autopia and Cars Land.

The Las Vegas Motor Speedway was the site on April 25 for General Motors Envolve fleet bazaar where about 750 hosted fleet managers and executives mingled with 150 GM internal combustion engine (ICE) and electric fleet vehicles of all types, classes, and roles. GM staff was on hand for demos and tours laden with specs and details, while exhibiting vendors and suppliers displayed the latest fleet products.

Chevrolet Silverado EV Work Trucks roll up for fleet manager test drives at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where drivers could enjoy the full acceleration while barreling around the track. - Photo:...

Chevrolet Silverado EV Work Trucks roll up for fleet manager test drives at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where drivers could enjoy the full acceleration while barreling around the track.

Photo: Martin Romjue / Bobit

Among the big thrill rides were the Chevrolet Silverado EV Work Truck, the Chevrolet Blazer Police Pursuit Vehicle (PPV), and the latest versions of the iconic Chevy Corvette. While technically not a common commercial fleet vehicle, the Corvette ranks as a widely desired addition to many an American “household fleet.”

On tamer routes and tracks, fleet managers could sample such fleet stars as the BrightDrop ZEVO all-electric delivery vans that roll so quietly you would likely hear every boxed item slide on a shelf — thanks to no motor rattles, grinds, or whirs.

And if you wanted to take the pampered route, the swoosh and chamber silence of the Cadillac LYRIQ luxury EV could calm any racing heart.

Leading up to the daylong demo festival, GM Envolve leaders underscored a common theme to fleet owners and operators during the Solutions Summit conference agenda at the Mandalay Bay Las Vegas Resort: Keeping the commercial fleet acquistion process simple, straightforward, and supportive.

GM Envolve launched in May 2023 as a "one-stop" experience for vehicle sales and access to GM’s portfolio of commercial products and services across multiple divisions.

The sector provides fleet clients with one point of contact for all aspects of fleet usage, from purchasing to aftermarket maintenance.

David Marsh, global vice president of GM customer care and aftersales, explained how GM has fleet teams that can work with customers under one point of contact. - Photo: General Motors

David Marsh, global vice president of GM customer care and aftersales, explained how GM has fleet teams that can work with customers under one point of contact.

Photo: General Motors

Customized Contact, Connectivity, and Care

The one-shop approach aims to resonate in an automotive fleet industry seeing speedier advances in technology tools and telematics, a wider concern about liability, safety, and risks, and fears surrounding fleet electrification at a time when the EV industry is facing sizable financial losses and charging obstacles as caution toward EVs spreads.

During an exclusive executive roundtable with media representatives a day before the speedway event, David Marsh, global vice president of GM customer care and aftersales, said GM aims to tailor specific solutions for fleet operators and managers by "making it easier to connect the dots."

"I use a simple analogy, which is if you ever had to do any work on a house or buy a house, you can have a general contractor who works with all those key elements for you. It’s easy to contact one person, and they have the expertise to find the right people. Now we have a team that can go in with a customer under a single point of contact. As matters come up, it's easier to get them to the right part of our organization.”

Data-Driven Safety and Efficiency

Applying data can keep a fleet focused on safety and ensure a return on investment, said Michelle Calloway, director of OnStar Business Solutions for GM Envolve, while updating the OnStar product.

“What we've heard from our fleet customers is that they want to protect their drivers and their assets, because that ultimately reduces their business risk, and raises the return to their business overall,” Calloway said.

GM’s OnStar technology can manage the safety, business processes, and performance of fleet vehicles.

“Data can impact operations overall among fleet managers who can use it to coach drivers and work to change behaviors,” she said. “The system can notify fleet managers about safety violations and create detailed reports that empower them to affirm company policies.”

Among further improvements, GM is studying how evolving forms of AI can be applied to its software tools, which are being tested to see how AI can enable fleet managers to identify actionable insights and trends, she said.

To ensure complete data sets for fleet operations, GM OnStar can connect and integrate with other known telematics service providers. Other vendors and fleet management companies (FMCs) can use GM’s API and data services to access important vehicle information within their dashboards.

“We’re not forcing our customers to change how they're managing their business,” Calloway said. “Through those third parties, we can still be part of the solution. We work with telematics service providers and fleet management companies to make sure they know how to use our APIs. They understand our documentation so that the data is accurately represented in their dashboards.”

Managing Maintenance at the Micro Level

Using data from vehicles can help track and monitor maintenance and service intervals as well.

Fleet managers “have a customer base that's counting on them,” Marsh said. “If their vehicles aren't performing, and they can't execute what they need to do, it impacts their customers. And then it slows the momentum of growing their business.”

Maintenance-related data is becoming more predictive based on how drivers use fleet vehicles, Marsh said. “When you have technicians who are working in diagnosing vehicles and going through the next best probable actions, we can take down that intel. It allows us to get even more nimble in diagnosing and repairing a vehicle quicker.”

Sandor Piszar, vice president of GM Envolve, said GM continues to invest in a full ICE portfolio of vehicles, but also offers EVs to fleet operations that want to start electrification. - Photo:...

Sandor Piszar, vice president of GM Envolve, said GM continues to invest in a full ICE portfolio of vehicles, but also offers EVs to fleet operations that want to start electrification.

Photo: General Motors

A Gradual Plan Toward Fleet Electrification

Fleet Industry EV sales was 3.4% last year, at GM EVs represented 3.8% of all vehicles sold. GM Envolve comprised 30% of GM’s EV sales last year. 2024 marks the first year that GM offers a full portfolio of electric vehicles to the fleet sector, said Sandor Piszar, vice president of GM Envolve, during the media roundtable.

Piszar clarified upfront that GM is still focused on ICE vehicles as much as it’s pursuing EVs. “We've got a foot in both camps. We have a full ICE portfolio, and we continue to invest in that portfolio with new products. But we also have EVs available for companies that want to start making that transition.”

More Automotive Fleet: Video Interview w/ Sandor Piszar

GM’s Ultium platform and battery technology designed for EVs enables the automaker to scale EVs and refine the performance of its models, Piszar said. “It shows that when you invest the time to do it right and have a dedicated EV platform versus converting an ICE vehicle to an EV, we're able to maximize the range capability and payload towing,” he added, referring to the Chevrolet Silverado all-electric work truck. “And the fact we launched it fleet first shows the confidence we have in that product being a real truck doing real truck work.”

GM is now seeing a slower transition to EVs with fleet companies taking small steps and trying out the vehicles, Piszar said. “That's where we can help them with charging infrastructure through our partners at GM Energy. Companies express interest in EVs, but the next question is typically, ‘What about chargers and infrastructure?’ We're here to help them with that. We don't leave them hanging.”

An EV fleet investment also must make sense from a business standpoint, Piszar said. In looking at total cost of ownership (TCO) over three years, the typical timeline of a fleet vehicle, GM has found ICE and EV TCOs at about even. “When you get beyond three years there are a lot of benefits with an EV because of reduced maintenance and costs for fuel usage. Our job is to help our customers assess their needs. And if an EV is right for them, then we can help them with that transition.”

The Silverado EV Work Truck, for example, already reaches a range of 450 miles on one charge, further than one tank of gas in the ICE version, Piszar said.

Referencing the all-electric Chevrolet Blazer Police Pursuit Vehicle (PPV), Piszar detailed how it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in five seconds with 498 horsepower. The silence of an EV compared to ICE vehicles also gives law enforcement agencies a tactical advantage in certain situations, he said.

He cited the PPV's performance and versatility. "We engineered it specifically for their needs in terms of seating, accommodating their belts and their weapons, high-integrity vinyl and floor coverings, high-performance Brembo brakes, and suspension technology designed specifically for pursuit duty. We've invested in this space for fleet vehicles so [the police] have an EV that can get the job done.”

Calloway and Piszar both outlined how GM can draw upon telematics and data to efficiently create charging plans, routines, and access scheduling for fleets using a combination of depot and home-based charging stations. “We know we can use the data from the fleet itself to see where the drivers are going,” Calloway said. “We can help make recommendations based on the actual usage of the vehicles.”

GM’s OnStar telematics software also can be layered to segment data feeds from ICE vehicles and EVs when necessary, while integrating mutual data when gathering metrics and outputs common to both types of vehicles, Calloway said.

“If it’s an EV, we're not going to show the oil light. We're going to show you a range and EV data elements. It's all within the same software package. We modify the information we get from the (ICE vehicles and EVs) to make it easy for the fleet manager. You can look at fuel and charging combined so you can see (overall) energy usage.”

Marissa West, senior vice president and president of GM North America, said GM is balancing out its vehicle lineup by launching six new EV models and six new ICE vehicle models this year across...

Marissa West, senior vice president and president of GM North America, said GM is balancing out its vehicle lineup by launching six new EV models and six new ICE vehicle models this year across the continent.

Photo: General Motors

The Big Fleet Picture at GM Envolve

Later that evening, Piszar, Calloway, and Marsh joined three other GM Envolve executives for an opening presentation in a massive ballroom staged with leading GM fleet models parked under wide digital screens.

The message of safety and security in all aspects of fleet evolution resounded among the presenters.

General Motors safety is at the core of everything we do,” said Scott Bell, vice president of Chevrolet. “And the well-being of your drivers I'm sure is at the core of everything you do. That’s why we offer more standard safety features than ever before across our entire lineup.”

Bell emphasized that GM understands the electrification journey will take some time.

“That's why we are committed to what we call keeping a foot in both the ICE and EV camps. We want to make sure you have the products you need today and the ones that you're going to need in the future. We believe EVs must be even more independent and more capable than their ICE counterparts.”

Jennifer Costabile, general director of GM Envolve marketing and sales enablement, elaborated on Bell’s points, observing that moving to electric vehicles can appear complex with many factors for fleet managers to consider.

“You can't just flip a switch and convert your fleet to EVs,” she said. “For your business to be effective, you need support throughout the process with tools designed specifically for you. We're not going to just have you buy one of our EVs and then leave you to figure out the rest on your own.”

Michelle Calloway, director of OnStar Business Solutions for GM Envolve, told the fleet manager audience how applying data can keep a fleet focused on safety and ensure a return on investment. -...

Michelle Calloway, director of OnStar Business Solutions for GM Envolve, told the fleet manager audience how applying data can keep a fleet focused on safety and ensure a return on investment.

Photo: General Motors

Costabile said GM has worked with customers to get their feedback to build an easier transition process. Most start out with a few EVs. Before EVs even arrive on the lot, the electric fleet must have a sound and reliable charging plan, Costabile said. “We'll make sure that all options are reviewed, and then help you execute the best charging method for your business.”

Project managers oversee the equipment and installation, she added. “The primary focus is providing you with turnkey solutions that include the power of charging and integrating public and private charging as needed.”

Calloway provided more examples of OnStar functions and how it analyzes millions of data points from fleet vehicles that can be brought together and displayed on dashboards and reports. “These allow you to be more productive in your day-to-day operations and keep your drivers working safely.”

In one example of safety advances, an automatic crash notification system connects drivers with emergency help in the moments after an accident. “Even if they can't respond our specially trained emergency advisors can immediately call into the vehicle to provide that medical assistance and relay vital information to first responders.”

Fleet managers also have been asking for more security and protection, Calloway said. “Our subscription-based cybersecurity plan includes key features that help protect and secure your assets and employees like stolen vehicle assistance, which is helping to counter vehicle theft for many of our customers today.

A Pivotal Model Year for GM Envolve

In wrapping up the vehicle stage showcase, Marissa West, senior vice president and president of GM North America, said GM is launching six new EV models and six new ICE vehicle models this year across the continent.

“The EV market is still growing, perhaps not quite as fast, but growth is never linear. And we anticipate that EVs will be about 10% of the industry this year.”

She said while GM is committed to an all-electric lineup, it remains focused on delivering vehicles that enable fleets to “go about your business without compromise.”

“We are balancing our lineup with both (vehicle) camps, which is a great position to be in,” West said. “This allows us to be flexible to meet customers where you are on your journey to an electric future. And our vision remains unchanged. We see a future with zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion.”

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet

About the author
Martin Romjue

Martin Romjue

Managing Editor of Fleet Group, Charged Fleet Editor, Vehicle Remarketing Editor

Martin Romjue is the managing editor of the Fleet Trucking & Transportation Group, where he is also editor of Charged Fleet and Vehicle Remarketing digital brands. He previously worked as lead editor of Bobit-owned Luxury, Coach & Transportation (LCT) Magazine and LCTmag.com from 2008-2020.

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