5 of the latest trends in fleet management you need to know

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Whether you already manage a company car fleet, let your employees claim for a fuel allowance, or are simply considering your options, this guide covers the biggest fleet trends for 2018 and beyond…

1. Confusion over fuel economy, CO2 figures and tax

Cars are about to get less fuel efficient – on paper at least. As of September 1 2017, the New European Drive Cycle (NEDC) could not be used to generate fuel consumption and CO2 figures for new cars.

Its replacement is the World Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP), which is designed to better represent ‘real-world’ performance.

This new procedure means that, on-paper, figures may rise by 10-20%. But, what needs to be remembered is this: the on-road performance won’t have changed at all. Whatever fuel economy that vehicle was achieving before will still be the same after.

The consequences of most vehicles showing higher fuel consumption and CO2 emissions under the new regime is that this could mean higher benefit-in-kind tax bills, NIC charges and VED in the future. Added to which, there is still some confusion at government level as to how these higher levels might be applied, and when.

However, even if cars start to climb a few tax bands, the company car remains a very strong pull because it offers worry-free motoring.

While the front-end numbers might seem less attractive than they were previously, for businesses it is still the most efficient way to keep a workforce mobile. Just imagine the working time lost with employees sorting out their own purchase, servicing, breakdowns and repairs.

Often employees looking at opting out of a company car and making a private purchase forget all the other costs such as insurance, finance, servicing and maintenance, breakdown cover and the time spent sourcing the car.

2. Leasing companies expanding into the non-company car driver market

With the confusion over the future benefit-in-kind tax bands for company cars, drivers are increasingly taking cash options. As a result, several leasing companies are launching schemes to attract these drivers, effectively offering competitive leasing rates that match the monthly cash allowances they have been allowed.

Therefore, the benefits of a company car – in terms of regular payments over a fixed term, no worries about future values and controlled maintenance costs – exist; but for private drivers, rather than their employers.

As people get more used to making monthly rental payments for all sorts of consumer and household items, the means of running a vehicle through leasing looks increasingly likely to grow.

3. Coming up to speed with mobility solutions

Many businesses are trying to get a fuller picture of what is meant by a ‘mobility solution’ – which is essentially jargon for good old-fashioned business travel.

Thanks to the increasingly connected world we now live in, there are more ways to link up all types of transport to create travel plans that are more efficient, both from economic and time perspectives.

For example, if an employee needs to travel from London to Glasgow for a meeting, what are their options?

  • They could drive their own car, one from a car club or a car sharing app
  • Get the train, fly or rent a car when they get there (or if they are part of a car club pick one of those up at the location)
  • Use other public transport…
  • Or not even go at all: a mobility solution for your business could be that employees do more video conferencing and save time and resources travelling.

There are an increasing number of apps and websites to help make these choices and inform on costs, and there are plenty of businesses in the fleet industry that offer smart car sharing, whereby a pool car can be booked online for use by employees.

4. Getting a grip on your employee details

The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has introduced new principles of transparency and accountability for how a company looks after its employees’ personal information, and this includes all information relating to fleet management.

Your employees can be identified in many ways while driving for work, such as through their vehicle’s number plate or Vehicle Identification Number, their driving licence number, National Insurance, medical history, driving history (offences, insurance claims or training) and even tracking data.

As a result, businesses need to ensure that all this data is held securely, and that their employees clearly understand the reasons for this data being stored. Companies need to have reasonable cause for holding identifiable data.

Clearly, for something such as driving offence history it is important to hold personal information for each employee, and firms should explain this to their employees. They also need to have suitably robust process and protection in place to ensure that data cannot be accessed by anybody who doesn’t have the right to.

However, there are other areas where it might not be necessary to keep all information on your employees. For example, is it imperative to track every single journey made by your staff?

For some firms it will be but, for many, that level of information just isn’t needed over and above some mileage data. In which case, companies might have to anonymise or aggregate the date.

At the heart of GDPR is security and process. You must demonstrate a valid reason for keeping personal data relating to cars and vans, ensure your employees understand why you are storing their personal data, and you must ensure the information is held securely.

5. Working out the benefit of electric cars and vans

Electric cars and vans are entering the market with lots of plug-in hybrid and full electric models already available.

At some point in the future, these electric vehicles will likely offer competitive costs and range comparing to internal combustion engine (ICE) cars.

In certain circumstances, such as for a driver who only commutes to and from work or for a van doing multiple stops in an urban environment, they can prove to be very useful.

But, for the majority of drivers, the range of electric vehicles and the charging network available still needs to grow more.

The market is certainly expanding at a fast rate but, when considering electric vehicles for your fleet, you need to carefully consider several factors. This includes what role and mileage they need to fulfil, the time spent charging them (if you have a depot where they can be plugged in overnight, that could be useful) and the costs involved: the sector is still reliant on government subsidies to make them financially competitive.

Certainly, electric vehicles are worth exploring, but for all the hype, ICE cars and vans have a proven track record of keeping businesses moving at a reasonable cost.

That fact should not be underestimated when you are looking at how your fleet operates, or will operate.

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