Naeem Farooqi: Empowering Fleets Towards Sustainability

Naeem Farooqi | CEO & Founder of FleetZero
Naeem Farooqi | CEO & Founder of FleetZero

Naeem Farooqi, the CEO & Founder of FleetZero, is a visionary with over sixteen years of experience in asset management, supply chain transformation, finance, relationship management, and marketing within the transportation sector. Naeem is passionate about helping fleets navigate their route to zero emissions.

With a background in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering from the University of Toronto, Naeem’s expertise lies in understanding the intricate relationship between asset reliability and various propulsion technologies, a topic he explored deeply during his PhD research. His academic pursuits are complemented by practical experience including undergraduate and graduate degrees along with a Masters’ Certificate in Supply Chain and Logistics Management, and Master of Science in Planning and a Bachelors of Business Administration with a concentration in marketing and finance.

Naeem’s commitment to sustainability and innovation has garnered him recognition in the industry, earning accolades such as the Clean50 Emerging Leader award and inclusion in several  Top 40 Under 40 awards for transit, including Mass Transit. His contributions extend beyond awards, with publications in esteemed magazines and platforms like Metro Magazine and edX, where he shares insights on inventory parts management, materials supply chain and electric cars.

Driven by a desire to make a positive impact on the environment and society, Naeem leads FleetZero—a trusted advisor and solution provider dedicated to simplifying the transition to low and emission-free fleets. With Naeem’s guidance, FleetZero offers turnkey solutions to remove the emission transition headache and keep fleets on the road all while paving the way for a sustainable future in transportation.

Towards Zero Emissions

After advising on over 20,000 fleet vehicles from all corners of the world, it became clear that the road to zero emissions is fragmented, complicated and filled with many roadblocks,” says Naeem. FleetZero was intentionally designed to be the trusted advisor for fleets, governments, utilities and capital providers.

Our services span from advising on how to reduce transportation emissions to supporting implementation,” Naeem explains. “We serve as a liaison to address infrastructure needs, connecting capital when needed and providing maintenance process support, training, and insulated tools.”

Naeem emphasizes that FleetZero’s focus is on ensuring vehicles remain on the road in a safe and sustainable manner. This is reflected in its slogan, ‘Zero emissions, zero headaches.’

Sustainable Solutions

Naeem explains that taking fleets to zero emissions involves systems change. What this means is that different financial, technical, social and value systems need to align to ensure fleet, infrastructure, facility, stakeholders, environment, and economics are all considered and calibrated to meet specific objectives.

We call this the FleetZero Playbook (sm) and leverage diverse skills, such as asset management, supply chains and finance, to find the right pathway for fleets to navigate,” Naeem states. “My diversified background and our team approach bring these various perspectives and experience under one roof to ensure our clients have the right experts at the right time.”

Maintenance Matters

My research has found that with each improvement in vehicle emissions standard, there has been an increase in vehicle maintenance costs,” reveals Naeem. This can affect asset reliability as new technologies and vehicle components make vehicles far more complex than with previous models.

This insight has shaped how FleetZero develops proprietary technologies to drill into asset lifecycle and inform how low/zero-emission vehicle components should be selected. Naeem explains that it also shapes why FleetZero is very focused on working with fleets throughout the transition, especially to develop maintenance processes and standard operating procedures when alternative propulsion technologies are introduced.

In Tune with Change

I try to keep a pulse by using platforms like LinkedIn to read updates from industry, clients and peers,” says Naeem. In addition, he listens to podcasts like the Journal (by WSJ) to stay on top of broader trends that can influence zero-emission mobility.

Partnerships for Progress

Listening is key to understanding what works, what doesn’t and emerging potential pain points for clients and their stakeholders,” emphasizes Naeem. This is crucial to building trust. Often this means listening for what is not said but can become a challenge.

For example, several clients have purchased battery-electric buses and are now beginning to receive vehicles into their fleet. Naeem elaborates, “At FleetZero, we know that maintenance processes will need to be modified and that staff must be given the appropriate insulated tooling and personal protective equipment to be kept safe while working around high-voltage systems.”

As a trusted advisor, Naeem works with clients to identify these pending needs and craft solutions that work for them. Naeem adds that additionally, FleetZero is active in various industry organizations to share knowledge and give back. One example is Partnerships in Project Green in Toronto, where the work on environmental mandates around tree planting along with educating and training.

Investing in Knowledge

Education and upskilling are important in the future of e-mobility. Naeem stresses, “We work to advance both aims by partnering with different academic institutions to conduct applied research as well as deliver unique learning opportunities for students.”

FleetZero also develops and delivers custom training for clients and the general public by participating in industry-wide fleet-informed workshops. Naeem adds, “Our goal is to ensure that individuals have the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in the evolving landscape of e-mobility.”

Optimizing the Journey

Leadership is about seeing the bigger picture and guiding others to do so as well. Naeem states, “I encourage our staff to innovate and engage in out-of-the-box thinking.”

In an evolving and fast-paced area such as transportation decarbonization, Naeem believes it is critical to question assumptions and look to alternative disciplines for inspiration. Naeem also shares that this enables the teams to be agnostic to different propulsion technologies and focus on what is the optimal solution for a fleet given its objectives and constraints, whether it be battery electric, hydrogen fuel cell, or another technology.

Learning from Experience

I believe that creating a culture of learning is key to developing and implementing innovative solutions,” emphasizes Naeem. This involves learning from research and industry through traditional means as well as by learning through experience and immersion in different fleet ecosystems.

At FleetZero, I support a boots-on-the-ground approach where our staff will regularly visit maintenance shops, OEMs and different chargers or refueling stations to gather real-world insights,” Naeem explains. He also instills a stakeholder-centered approach where staff learn by speaking and learning from individuals from a vast array of disciplines, geographies and roles, whether it be at the C-suite or the maintenance shop floor.

Naeem adds enthusiastically that one of the favorite team-building activities is annual automobile and fleet show visits to understand the transition to alternative fuel vehicles by mainstream OEMs.

Innovating for a Greener Tomorrow

Thought leadership serves as a catalyst for broader discussions within the zero-emission industry. Naeem expresses, “I particularly like using it to connect different concepts that many have yet to consider.”

For example, knowing the lead time to replace an electric vehicle’s battery can affect the number of spare vehicles, maintenance processes and the decision to buy versus lease. Naeem explains, “I am working on a few upcoming publications that dig into safety and maintenance processes for battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicle technologies.”

In its first year, FleetZero signed over 10 strategic partnerships and launched offices in three countries. Naeem proudly states, “Additionally, we were the recipient of Canada’s EV Sales & Distribution award from Plug’n Drive and Electrify Canada for 2023. We pride ourselves on the associations we are a member of and giving back to our community.”