Today, the ground component of a managed travel program is much more than cars. In recent years, the category has expanded to encompass ride-hailing, electric vehicles (EVs), and micromobility options, such as e-bikes, e-scooters, and e-mopeds. Rail, a greener alternative to air travel, has climbed in importance as travel managers aim to meet their sustainability goals.

To help travel managers stay on top of what’s happening in the industry, our Global Business Consulting (GBC) team has identified some of the top trends impacting ground programs today. What you’ll find below is a quick recap of what they have compiled. For a more in-depth analysis from GBC, including how you can use ground transportation to help achieve your company’s broader strategic goals, take a look at our newly released Ground Monitor.

Car prices will continue to rise before leveling off

According to our Ground Monitor forecast model, the rate increases we’ve seen with car rentals since 2019 will keep steady throughout 2023. High demand combined with lingering bottlenecks in the automotive supply chain will continue to drive up prices.

The good news is relief could be in sight soon. As the auto industry learns to live with supply chain disruption and works to increase the availability of new cars, the rate of car rentals should begin to moderate towards the end of 2023 and into 2024.

(Check out the Ground Monitor to delve deeper into the rate predictions our ground specialists are forecasting.)

Leisure continues to impact corporate programs

Expect there to be some competition over rental cars. With global tourism set to return to – and even exceed – levels last seen in 2019, leisure travel is likely to influence both the availability and price of rental cars in 2023.

The strongest impact will be felt most in destinations that attract both tourists and corporate visitors – so be sure to forewarn your travelers heading to hot spots during peak season to book early.

Fuel costs look set to fall

Breathe a sign of relief. After a period of rising costs and unprecedented volatility, fuel prices in the US should temper in 2023. That said, we do anticipate prices at the pump to go up during the summer as leisure travelers hit the road.

Globally, fuel prices are also expected to fall or, at least, stop rising in 2023. However, any predictions are hostage to geopolitical events.

Generational differences could reshape ground programs

Today, younger generations are less likely to have a driver’s license than their older peers. While 62% of US 17-year-olds held a license in 1997, only 45% did in 2020.

The shrinking pool of drivers will have growing implications for fleet managers and ground program owners. Ride-hail services and public transportation may rise in popularity as alternative options for employees unable to operate a vehicle.

EVs go mainstream, but drivers remain wary

EVs – now available from the major car rental brands – are attractive to corporates intent on reducing business travel carbon emissions. However, travel managers should be aware that corporate drivers seem less enthusiastic. There are reports from Europe of supply exceeding demand and EVs sitting unused at rental locations. What’s causing driver reluctance?

For insights into that – and more about the ground trends driving travel programs today – check out our Ground Monitor.