What is the size and makeup of the ODS fleet?

ODS currently operates a fleet of 334 vehicles. These are predominantly cars, vans and tippers but also include 49 heavy goods vehicles, 11 sweepers and 22 registered agricultural and engineering plant. We currently have 66 electric vehicles with another 29 on order. Electric vehicles now make up 20% of our fleet, and by the end of the year this should reach 28%.

How many depots and workshops do you have and what other services do you provide?

ODS operate the main frontline services for Oxford City covering waste disposal, street cleansing, building maintenance, pest control, parks, car parks, highways & engineering and vehicle maintenance. These services are operated out of one main depot, four secondary depots and a number of small satellite locations. The vehicle workshop and MOT testing lanes are operated out of the main depot. From there we operate a complete fleet management function including operator compliance, driver training and support, fuel supply from our bunkered fuel stores, managing pool fleets, technical guidance, fleet acquisition and disposal.

What are the main services you deliver to the public?

The award winning vehicle workshop supports the maintenance function for the whole of ODS’ fleet but also provides a commercial offering to local fleets and members of the public.

Through the ODS workshop we provide a fully inclusive fleet offering of servicing and repair for anything from cars all the way up to large HGVs and passenger vehicles such as buses. This also includes a service centre for electric vehicles within our workshop facilities.

We offer testing for cars and light vehicles through our MOT testing lanes and also carry out testing on HGVs and specialist vehicles in our ATF lane. Other services offered include driver training, MIDAS training and taxi licensing tests. We are also an approved service centre for LEVC.

ODS’ fleet team can support the transport function of other local organisations to provide advice and consultation on fleet operations and transitioning to greener fleets.

What sets you apart from other local authorities?

ODS, together with a select number of other authorities, considers itself a pioneer in the public sector fleet world. We have been a strong advocate for green fleets having operated electric vehicles for well over a decade. Over the last few years ODS has rapidly grown its electric fleet and introduced a number of specialist EVs such as an electric refuse collection vehicle, a sweeper, an excavator and we’ve recently converted a milk float for street cleaning services. We also provide home charging for a number of our remote working operatives. This fleet improvement supports Oxford City Council’s emissions policies and prepared our operations for the launch of the UK’s first Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) in Oxford’s city centre in February 2022.

ODS also embraces key fleet safety technologies in addition to new technologies. Three recent developments have been the installation of improved telematics to provide data on electric vehicles, converting our HGV fleet to operate on HVO fuel and finally creating a dedicated fleet reporting database pulling data from telematics chargers, fuel and workshop management to provide a comprehensive range of fleet information. Reporting tools are an essential element of managing an efficient compliant safe fleet. It is ODS’ aim to be an inspiration to other councils wishing to improve their fleet.

What trends and developments have you seen over the last couple of years?

ODS has typically been ahead of the trends and is continually reviewing innovation and developments in both fuel types, fleet operations, technologies and new vehicle types. Through benchmarking at events I often find we have all of – if not more – best practices for fleet management than most similar organisations.

What are your main drivers as a fleet manager?

Oxford is a small city but has a large collective of pedestrians, cyclists and other road users so we have to be vigilant to the dangers operating a fleet can pose. As such safety and compliance are my primary concerns and through dedicated fleet management ODS has an excellent safety track record. I am however always keen to review new technologies that will keep our drivers and the members of the public safe.

We already operate many safety features such as full camera systems (360 degree in HGVs and dash cams in select light vehicles) linked to telematics, rear radar systems, audible cycle warning devices, seatbelt alerts linked to back office and a whole range of other features. Our newest improvement last year was converting all HGVs with an anti-rollaway system.

Other areas I am focused on are efficiencies in vehicle operations and solutions to meet emissions reductions be that through fuel types, new vehicle types or driving and engine performance management.

What role does sustainability play in your operation?

Sustainability will be a significant factor in the coming years with the introduction of the ZEZ in Oxford City Centre and a Net Carbon Zero policy set by Oxford City Council for 2030. ODS already set a target of achieving 25% of its fleet as electric by 2023 which I expect to exceed. Going forward a lot of our fleet strategy is geared towards meeting further emissions reductions and supporting the council’s air quality aims.

How do you see municipal fleet management changing over the next 10 years?

Compliance will always be required and therefore much of the core fleet management function will be similar. From my perspective this will be to maintain our exemplary record and keep the fleet in high standards.

With climate emergencies and air quality being high on the agenda I expect to see fleets significantly looking to reduce their emissions by 2030. However, the cost of electric vehicles will still be a limiting factor for much of this transition as municipal organisations will have an economic responsibility to their stakeholders. Therefore, I expect to see the life expectancy of some vehicles be extended to allow for planning and funding of replacements. This might also create a shift towards leasing to avoid committing to diesels for a long replacement cycle.

There will also be an increased need in data and fleet reporting to monitor fleet emissions and utilisation to support this change. But overall I expect to see municipal authorities leading by example to convert the attitudes of drivers and public perception.