Dramatic changes to the world of transportation pose major challenges but also major opportunities. Making the right decisions to future-proof business mobility is tough, as a range of new, improving and traditional sources vie to become the fuel of tomorrow.

At the 2016 Shell Make the Future event held earlier this year in London, the company’s chief scientist for mobility Dr Wolfgang Warnecke described how access to affordable energy is a significant task for mobility. Total cost of ownership, ecological challenges, CO2 emissions, air pollution and noise emissions are all shaping the way future vehicle propulsion will be influenced.

“We’ve lived with these two fuel types [petrol and diesel] for 100 years and now what we have is a huge issue or opportunity for different engine types, and on the fuel side we have more than gasoline or diesel,” he states.

Natural gas, including CNG and liquid natural gas, biofuels, reusable hydrogen and electricity are all developing, as well as the possibility of synthetic fuels to follow, making for a period of change and advancement not before seen in the transport world.

Shell’s connected programme head Eliron Ekstein declares it an “exciting time in the mobility space”. He believes that developments in data and connectivity will combine with electrification and growing numbers of cleaner fuel sources to actually increase professional use of the roads. That’s going to place increased importance on the role of the fleet manager, who will need to optimise these transport systems.

But that doesn’t mean traditional fuels have had their day. “The name of the game for diesel is to stay as good as it is with efficiency in miles per gallon,” declares Dr Warnecke. “The world of transportation is going to change dramatically”.

Methods of propulsion haven’t been on fleet managers’ radar because, as Dr Warnecke says, it’s been either petrol or diesel for most of the last 100 years. However, operators now have an unprecedented range of options available, and fresh new technology to help manage them, depending on how and where their vehicles are being used. And, as this film explores, that’s something that is going to evolve at a tremendous pace, so knowledge and understanding will be key to staying ahead of the competition.

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