Money, money, money. ABBA may have first sung about it in 1976, but in 2019 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, vehicle maintenance, drivers… and, of course, a fleet management system. But how much do these systems cost, exactly? Spoiler alert: It’s probably less than you’d think!
One thing to understand is that, when it comes to GPS vehicle tracking and fleet management, there’ll usually be a worthwhile return on your investment (ROI). Advanced systems can help you cut fuel costs, reduce dangerous driving, dispatch jobs quickly, stay on top of vehicle maintenance, plan more efficient routes, and more.
So, read on, and we’ll explain the costs you’ll face to set up a GPS fleet tracking system.
Or, to get tailored prices right away, try out our free service - simply tell us about your fleet, and we’ll match you with fleet management vendors who can cater to your unique needs. They’ll then be in touch with tailored quotes, deals and advice. It’s quick, and will help you to compare prices and suitable options easily.
How Much Does GPS Tracking Cost in 2019?
Generally, renting a fleet tracking system can cost anywhere between $15 and $65 per vehicle, per month. Buying a system outright can cost from $100 to $600 per vehicle.
We know - these numbers aren’t exactly definitive (there’s a big difference between $15 and $65, after all!). The spectrums are so broad because there's a ton of factors that affect how much fleet management costs - including:
- How advanced the system is
- Whether the tracking devices are plug-and-play, or need hardwire installation
- Whether you buy or lease the system
- 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 - 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.
Here’s how much you can expect to pay for fleet management, based on how sophisticated and feature-rich a system is:
|Leasing cost (per vehicle, per month)||Buying cost (per vehicle)|
|Basic solution||From $15||Around $100|
|Mid-level solution||$20 - $30||$300 - $600|
|High-end solution||$30 - $65||Can usually only be leased|
But what makes a basic system basic, and what makes a high-end system high-end? Really, it just comes down to two things:
1. The features it comes with
Basic systems aim simply to track the routes your vehicles take. Some also offer one or two simple features, such as trip logging and starts and stops reporting, but they don’t usually offer much in the way of fleet management. That’s why they’re cheap.
Meanwhile, mid-level to high-end fleet management systems can do this and much more. They tend to come with a whole host of helpful features - including:
- Fuel consumption reporting
- Driver behaviour monitoring
- Vehicle diagnostics and maintenance alerts
- Incident reporting
- Advanced route planning
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.
2. Whether it’s active or passive
Active fleet tracking systems send data to you automatically, usually at set intervals throughout the day (known as ‘pings’) but sometimes in real-time. Fleet management company Samsara’s ‘Helicopter View’, for example, enables you to watch your vehicles move along a digital map in real-time.
On the other hand, passive fleet tracking systems don’t send data to you - instead, you’ll need to remove the device from each vehicle at the end of the day, and download the data it’s collected to a computer so that you can view it.
As you’d expect, more advanced systems tend to use active data transfer. Systems that offer a large number of pings per day, or even real-time data transfer, often cost more - but you’ll probably find them more useful.
The Additional Costs of Fleet Management
Alongside your monthly fee or upfront cost, your key additional costs will be for the installation of your GPS tracking devices, and any extra hardware you need:
1. GPS tracker installation
If your GPS trackers are simple plug-and-play devices - i.e., your drivers can simply plug them into their vehicle’s cigarette lighter and go - you obviously won’t have to worry about having them professionally installed.
But if your tracking devices need to be hardwired into your vehicles, it may be that your supplier asks for an installation fee. This’ll pay for specialist engineers to come to you and get your devices installed. This fee can range from $75 to $100+ per vehicle.
Of course, you can install vehicle tracking devices yourself - but to be 100% sure the job’s been done right (and to avoid pricey re-installations down the road), we’d advise paying up. Sorry!
2. Extra hardware
If software is the brains behind the operation, hardware is the brawn. GPS vehicle tracking devices are, of course, the most important pieces of hardware you’ll need - but these will almost always be included in your fleet management package, and so won’t factor in as additional costs.
Rather, you’ll find yourself facing an additional cost if you don’t have a device to install and use your software on. Whether a smartphone, a tablet, or a computer, you’ll need to get hold of one if you don’t have something suitable already.
Alongside tracking devices, some suppliers offer different pieces of hardware that can contribute to your fleet management. These 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
Other Additional Costs
As well as your GPS tracker installation and the cost of any additional hardware you might need, there are a few other potential additional costs to be aware of:
- 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 system 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.
Buying vs. Renting a Fleet Management System
When it comes to getting your hands on a fleet management system, you can either buy it outright, or lease it on a monthly basis. There’s no right or wrong answer here - what you choose will depend on what’s right for your business and your budget.
Of course, the decision might be made for you if you choose a provider that only sells outright, or only offers leases. But, for now, it’s worth deciding which option you’d rather seek out. So, what do they both entail?
Buying a fleet management solution
When you buy a fleet management solution, you pay a large 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 system is yours with no restrictions.
- You’ll end up paying less money in the long run
- You won’t be tied into a contract
- The tech will be your own - you can 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 if needed
- You won’t get free ongoing support and training from your provider
Leasing a fleet management solution
When you lease a fleet management solution, you’ll pay a monthly fee that includes the cost of both the hardware and the software.
Alternatively, in one or two cases, a supplier may ask you to pay for the hardware upfront, and then pay a monthly fee for the use of the fleet management software. Providers are often flexible with this - they’ll usually enable you to pay a large upfront sum to reduce the cost of your monthly payments, or vice versa.
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 get free, ongoing customer support and training from your provider
- You’ll end up paying more money in the long run
- You’ll be tied into a contract - many of which last for a minimum of 24 months
- The tech won’t be your own - you might incur charges if it gets damaged
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 five 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, and you’ll receive tailored quotes from several Expert Market-approved fleet tracking suppliers, empowering you to easily compare the vendors that can cater to your needs, and their prices.
2. Look out for long, auto-renewing contracts
If you decide to lease 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. 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.
4. Consider fewer pings
As we explore above, systems that transfer data and send updates more frequently are more expensive. Will you actually need to see fresh data and vehicle locations in real-time/every few minutes? Or could you manage just fine by checking in a few times a day?
5. Find out what’s included in your package
Investigate what’s included in a fleet management package - and, crucially, what isn’t. Will the vendor offer to train you (and your employees) in using the software for free, or will they charge extra? Will you need to pay more to get all the hardware you need, or will the vendor be able to throw it in?
How Much Vehicle Tracking Can Help You Save
So, we’ve covered fleet tracking system costs - but how much money can these systems save you? Turns out there are tons of quantifiable benefits.
We’ve collated the average savings you can expect to see when you use a fleet management system into a handy chart:
Let’s take a closer look at these benefits:
1. Cut CO2 emissions
There’s no denying that our planet’s in trouble. You can do your bit, though - research from HERE shows that using GPS vehicle tracking devices can reduce your business’ carbon footprint by up to 21%, by helping you to cut wasteful driving behaviour and streamline your fuel efficiency.2. Reduce travel time
A fleet management system can help you reduce journey times, giving your drivers essential rest in between trips. According to HERE, an average driver using the traffic-enabled navigation offered by fleet management apps spends 18% less time on the road than other drivers.
3. Slash vehicle downtime
A study by the Aberdeen Group found that businesses that use fleet management systems enjoy up to 15% less vehicle downtime. That's because their drivers can complete trips faster, giving the fleet manager more choice over how and when to deploy vehicles for different assignments.
Fleet management systems can also help you keep on top of vehicle maintenance schedules, meaning your vehicles will always be in tip top condition.
4. Save on fuel
As you can see in the handy graph below, Fuel accounts for up to a third of a fleet's operational costs. That’s huge. So, the average 13% reduction in fuel costs makes for a hefty saving for fleets with GPS tracking installed.
5. Fewer fatalities
With road-related occupational fatalities rising year on year, GPS fleet tracking ensures safer working conditions for drivers. The FMCSA estimates that ELDs, often included as a key part of a fleet management system, will save 26 lives each year.
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 it, and the additional fees and charges your supplier asks for.
Generally, though, you can expect to lease a system for $15 to $65 per vehicle, per month, or buy one for $100 to $600 upfront, per vehicle. If the GPS tracking devices need to be hardwired into your vehicles, you’re looking at an additional $75 to $100 per vehicle for the installation.
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, 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?