Fleet management systems can help you cut operating costs and run an efficient fleet – but how much does fleet management and vehicle tracking cost? Let’s find out…
Money, money, money. ABBA may have first sung about it in 1976, but in 2020 cold hard cash is still what makes the world go round (alongside love, of course).
If you manage a business fleet, money is especially important. You’ve got to pay for fuel, maintenance, drivers… and, of course, a fleet management system. But how much do they cost? Well, generally speaking, fleet management software costs start at around $14 per vehicle, per month, and can get as high as $250+ per vehicle, per month.
As with anything, how much your system costs you will depend on a lot of factors – but don’t panic, because we’re about to explain them. Want a bespoke answer right away? Simply tell us about your fleet, and we’ll match you with top fleet management vendors that can cater to your unique needs. They’ll then be in touch with no-obligation quotes tailored to you!
How Much Does Vehicle Tracking Cost in 2020?
Leasing a full fleet tracking system can cost anywhere between $14 and $250 per vehicle, per month (though the majority of prices sit towards the lower end of the scale. Most of the fleet management suppliers we’ve put under the microscope charge, on average, $25 to $45 per vehicle, per month).
We know – these numbers aren’t exactly definitive. There’s a big difference between $14 and $250, after all! The spectrum is so broad because there’s a ton of factors that affect how much fleet management costs – including:
- How advanced the system is
- Whether you buy your hardware upfront or lease the whole thing
- Any additional hardware and/or features you choose to add to your package
- Any additional charges your supplier asks for
- The length of your contract
- The size of your fleet (sometimes, the more tracking units you buy, the cheaper they are)
Let’s explore these in more detail…
Basic vs. Advanced Systems: How Much Do They Cost?
In fleet management, you get what you pay for – usually, the more sophisticated the system, the more expensive it’ll be. That’s why, in this case, simply plumping for the cheapest option you find is not a good strategy.
One thing to understand is that, when it comes to GPS vehicle tracking and fleet management, there will be a worthwhile return on your investment (ROI). Advanced systems in particular can help you to cut fuel costs, reduce dangerous driving, dispatch jobs quickly, stay on top of vehicle maintenance, plan efficient routes, and more.
But what makes a basic system basic, and a high-end system high-end? Really, it just comes down to two things:
- The features it comes with
- The frequency with which its data refreshes
1. The features it comes with
Basic systems aim simply to track the routes your vehicles take. Some also offer a handful of other simple features, such as trip logging, starts and stops recording, basic reporting, and perhaps one or two alerts – but they don’t often offer much in the way of sophisticated fleet management. That’s why they’re cheap.
Meanwhile, more advanced fleet management systems can do this and much more. They tend to come with a whole host of helpful features – including:
- Fuel consumption reporting
- Detailed driver behaviour monitoring
- Vehicle diagnostics and maintenance alerts
- Incident reporting
- Advanced route planning
- Theft prevention alerts
These systems aim to help you to gain insight into your fleet’s performance, helping you cut unnecessary operating costs, identify and improve areas of weakness, and run an all-round more efficient business. They’re more expensive, sure – but you’ll see a much chunkier return on your investment.
Verizon Connect is one of the most sophisticated fleet management systems around. You can customize it to alert you to just about anything – from vehicle diagnostics, to driver speeding, to late starts and long stops – and create bespoke dashboards that show you whatever fleet data you need to analyze.
Unsurprisingly, then, Verizon Connect is one of the more expensive systems on the market, with prices ranging from $50 to $250 per vehicle, per month. That may sound steep but, trust us, you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck.
Owing to this, we’d recommend Verizon Connect to established, larger businesses with more to gain from collecting and analyzing a wide variety of data.
Taking a simpler approach, Quartix provides the core fleet management features needed by growing businesses, without so many bells and whistles.
In the name of transparency – which this customer care-focused supplier is all about – Quartix offers three clear-cut packages, each with its own price. The more key features included in the package, the more expensive its monthly cost. Let’s take a look:
|Package||Price (per vehicle, per month)||Features|
The above, plus:
The above, plus
2. The frequency of its data refresh
Any modern fleet management system worth its salt is active, which means that it sends data to you automatically, usually at set intervals throughout the day (as opposed to passive systems, with which you need to manually transfer data from each device to a computer at the end of the day – not very convenient).
As you’d expect, systems that refresh your data more frequently tend to cost more. Why? Well, firstly, because they give you a more accurate picture of where your vehicles are. It’s the difference between gauging your vehicle’s location based on where it was 30 seconds ago, versus where it was five minutes ago.
Secondly (though this isn’t always the case), the systems that offer faster data refresh tend also to be more advanced in terms of features and customizability – hence, it makes sense that they cost more.
For the most part, we can see this pattern in action out on the market. Let’s take a look at a couple of suppliers…
Samsara, a very sleek system, offers a market-leading data refresh time of 30 seconds to one minute – pretty rapid by industry standards! This – coupled with the breadth of customizable fleet management features that it boasts – justifies Samsara’s higher price point, which averages at $27 to $33 per vehicle, per month.
Hands down the most user-friendly fleet management system around, GPS Insight is a simple, solid option for vehicle tracking beginners. With a data refresh time of two to five minutes, it’s slower to send data to you than its more advanced counterparts, but these factors are accounted for in its price. Starting at just $13.95 per vehicle, per month, it’s the cheapest we’ve seen on the US market – ker-ching!
Buying vs. Renting Your GPS Vehicle Tracking Devices
Usually, you’ll find that companies charge you a monthly fee that covers the cost of both your GPS tracking hardware, and your fleet management software subscription.
While you’ll always have to pay a monthly cost for your fleet management software, some companies will let you buy the hardware outright instead of leasing it, and so pay a smaller monthly fee that covers your software alone.
Upfront costs for tracking devices fall between $99 and $450 per device, though you’ll find that most suppliers’ sit closer to the $99 mark (phew!).
But what are the key differences between paying outright and bundling everything into a single subscription fee? Let’s take a look.
Buying GPS tracking devices
When you buy a GPS tracking device, you pay a sum of money upfront, which covers the cost of the vehicle tracking hardware and fleet management software. After that, the system is yours to do what you want with.
In doing this, you’re given what’s called a perpetual license, which basically means that the hardware is yours with no restrictions.
- You’ll end up paying less money in the long run
- The tech will be your own – you can do what you want with it and use it for as long as you need to
- The initial cost is high
- You’ll need to pay to have the tech updated, maintained, fixed, or replaced when needed – your supplier won’t do this for free
Leasing a full fleet management system
When you lease a full fleet management solution, you’ll pay a monthly fee that includes the cost of both the hardware and the software.
When you do this, you get a subscription-based license, which entitles you to use the software and hardware for as long as your contract with the supplier lasts.
- The initial cost is much lower
- Your supplier will provide ongoing updates and replacements when your tech becomes outdated
- You’ll end up paying more money in the long run
- The tech won’t actually be your own – so you might incur charges if it gets damaged
One fleet management provider that offers you the chance to buy hardware outright, and so pay a smaller software leasing cost each month, is Azuga.
When it comes to price plans, Azuga offers two options: the Bundle plan and the Flex plan. Here’s how the costs work out:
|Upfront device cost||Software subscription|
If paying less in the long-term is your goal, you’re better off opting for the Flex plan. Of course, if you don’t have the resources to pay $99.99 upfront for each device that you need (and you’ll need one per vehicle), then the Bundle plan may be the more sensible option. Ultimately, there’s no right answer – it’s your call.
It has to be said that, the larger your fleet, the bigger the savings you’ll enjoy as a result of buying your trackers outright. According to our calculations, a fleet of five vehicles that opts for the Flex plan will have saved just under $600 by the end of a 36-month contract. For a small business, though, it could be worth paying that extra $600 for the comfort of being charged zero upfront fees for trackers.
A fleet of 100 vehicles on the Flex plan, on the other hand, will have saved just over $11,500 after 36 months. In the hands of a larger business, those savings could be put to more cost-effective use and invested in other areas of growth.
The Additional Costs of Fleet Management
Unfortunately, your monthly fee (and upfront hardware costs, should you choose to pay them), may not be the only charges you end up forking over. That’s right, we’re talking about the two most unglamorous words in the history of business services: additional costs.
In the case of fleet management, additional costs come in two forms:
- Add-ons – the extra hardware and features you choose to add to your package
- Additional charges – the extra fees your provider (or a third party) charges you for certain services
1. Extra hardware and feature add-ons
Alongside their main offering, some fleet management companies give you the opportunity to add extra hardware and software features to your bundle, for an additional cost. Such add-ons might include:
- ELDs (electronic logging devices) – for keeping your fleet compliant with FMCSA regulations
- Dash cams – for capturing incidents and keeping drivers safe. Here’s how much they cost
- Asset and trailer trackers – for when you want to track assets that aren’t vehicles
- Temperature monitors – for vehicles that transport temperature-sensitive goods, such as food
- Driver ID kits – to enable your system (and therefore you) to identify who’s driving each vehicle
- Staff training – to ensure that you and your drivers know how to use the system to its full potential
It’s really difficult to give a clear estimate of the add-on costs you might face. It’ll depend on what you decide your fleet needs, and what your specific provider has decided to charge extra for – what one fleet management company sells as an add-on, another might simply include as part of its key package.
2. Additional charges
As well as the cost of any additional hardware or features you might need, your supplier might ask for more money for :
- Installation fees – what your supplier charges to have engineers come to your business and install your tracking devices in your vehicles. Having said that, installation fees seem very rare – of the many suppliers we researched, GPS Insight was the only company to actually charge one, with all others either providing hardwire installation for free, providing plug-and-play devices that drivers can simply plug in to the OBD port and go, or – in just one or two cases – expecting businesses to hardwire the devices themselves.
- Customization or bespoke design costs – for example, if you’d like your software interface and trackers to be adorned with your business’ branding
- The cost to integrate your fleet management system with the other software tools you use to run your business – for example, payroll programs, health and safety apps, CRM systems, accounting tools, and more.
- The cost of any external technical support you may need. If you buy your devices outright, or your supplier doesn’t provide a robust support and maintenance offering, it may be that you’ll need to pay extra to have faults investigated and fixed.
- The cell/network charges accrued by your system.
- Any geofence fees applied by your supplier. Some suppliers will work with you to decide on geofences – virtual geographical boundaries that your vehicles aren’t supposed to cross – and charge you if your vehicles travel beyond them. This can be the case if you’ve paid less in exchange for a smaller coverage zone.
- Termination fees, which are charged by some vendors if you decide a system isn’t for you and cancel your contract.
How to Save Money on Fleet Tracking Costs
Of course, there are a few ways to be a little canny and minimize your fleet management bill as much as possible. Check out our six tips:
1. Compare quotes from different providers
It may sound obvious, but it’s really important. You’ll only know you’re getting the best deal for your needs if you’ve compared the options available to you.
If that sounds a little tedious, don’t worry – we can help! Tell us about your fleet by filling in our free short form, and you’ll receive tailored quotes from several Expert Market-approved fleet tracking suppliers, giving you the power to easily compare the companies that can cater to your needs, and their prices.
2. Look out for long, auto-renewing contracts
When leasing a fleet management system, it’s worth being aware of how long your contract is going to last. As a first-time user, you’ll be better off with a shorter contract that won’t rope you into forking over for years to come.
You should also be clear on whether your contract will auto-renew when it comes to an end. If it will, make sure you understand how to cancel the renewal if needed. Most providers have a deadline by which they need users to tell them they’d like to cancel – and for some, this deadline comes months before the contract’s end date – so don’t get caught out.
3. Check your cancellation period
Following the installation and setup of your system, some suppliers offer a ‘cooling off period’ in which you can decide that the system isn’t right for you, and cancel it without being charged.
If you don’t cancel within this time frame, you might be stuck paying for a system you don’t want for as long as the contract you’ve signed lasts – so make sure you know exactly how long you’ll have to make the decision!
Most fleet management providers give cancellation periods of either 14 or 30 days – with Verizon Connect offering the former, and Quartix the latter. Others, including Samsara, will give you a bespoke cancellation period that depends on your fleet’s size and needs.
4. Look for free trials
It makes sense to try before you buy! While lots of fleet management systems don’t, some will enable you to use their system for free for a certain period of time (usually 30 days) before deciding whether you want to enter into a contract.
Verizon Connect and Samsara offer free trials, while Quartix and GPS Insight will consider providing one on a case-by-case basis. Azuga offers a free trial too, but only to businesses with more than 30 vehicles in their fleets.
5. Look for a package that includes everything you need
Investigate what’s included in the fleet management package – and, crucially, what isn’t. As we explored earlier, different suppliers will charge different amounts for different add-ons. It’s worth finding one that either includes all the functions you need under its base monthly price, or can provide them for as small an extra charge as possible.
6. Opt for a scalable system
As your business and fleet grows, you want a fleet management system that can grow with it – at minimal cost! So, investigate your supplier’s process for adding more vehicles to a system, and how much it’ll charge you to do so. If it seems like it’ll be really pricey or weirdly complex, it could be a good idea to keep looking.
How much a fleet management system costs your business will depend on a number of factors – including how advanced the system is, whether you buy or lease your GPS tracking devices, and the additional fees and charges your supplier asks for.
Generally, you can lease a system for anywhere between $14 and $250 per vehicle, though if you’re a smaller business that’s new to fleet management, there’s no need to look far beyond the cheaper end of the spectrum yet.
With so many benefits afforded by fleet management systems, getting one set up really should be a priority. There are plenty of different systems out there – but if you’d like some help finding the right system for you (and at the right price), we’re here!
Just tell us about your fleet, and we’ll match you up with suitable vendors, who’ll be in touch with quotes tailored just for you. Our service is designed to empower you to easily compare the best systems for your business, and their prices. Not to mention that it’s fast and free! Why not give it a try?