Company Vehicles, there’s a lot to think about!

Business Insights

These are tough times for the UK’s fleet managers. Whether they are a single operator with one van or a major multi-site company with a huge mixed fleet, the combined pressures of running business vehicles have never been greater.

Between various new environmental legislations to do with emissions, your company’s own environmental aspirations and policies, driver safety, regular maintenance, new MOT categories, and the biggie, budget, pity the poor fleet manager. He or she has a balancing act to manage if they are to create a policy that is compliant, viable and works for your business.

New legislation surrounding vehicle emissions, including clean air zones, Euro 6, and new MOT categories to do with diesel vehicles, means that fleet managers are examining the financials of compliance and deciding whether diesel or petrol still make sense for their fleet.

Globally, transport emissions account for 14% of all greenhouse gasses so it’s hardly surprising that the UK government is so keen for companies to prioritise the issue.

Going green doesn't mean you have to replace your entire fleet with electric vehicles but you can look more carefully at the cars you have available for drivers to pick from. Those with lower CO2 emissions will have a lower tax rate band, delivering savings for both you and the employee.

Concerns relating to diesel are hitting the headlines regularly, from health scares to bans, charges in city centre clean air zones, to say nothing of the government’s determination to ban petrol and diesel cars from 2040. So does diesel make sense as a new vehicle purchase any more?

While looking at lower emission vehicles for your fleet you will need to consider Euro 6 legislation which became mandatory in September 2015, meaning that for all new vehicles the average CO2 emissions needs to fall below 130g/km across a car company's entire range, and also includes tighter restrictions on a wide range of pollutants including carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, NOx and particulates.

The obvious benefits to picking a Euro 6 engine (apart from helping the environment) is that you will be buying the very latest in engine technology, which in most cases means better fuel economy and low CO2 emissions, resulting in lower tax bills and fewer trips to the filling station.

But although choice of car can certainly play a big part, research has shown that smart driving could reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 10%. This means using telematics to identify employees with poor driving habits, sending all drivers on awareness courses and promoting a range of green driving techniques that could save money and fuel.

In-car technology has developed quickly, and there's now a whole range of information which can be gleaned from the various telematics a company can put in place, and the data could ultimately help to drive down costs, by highlighting driver training requirements.

Typically, an efficient telematics system could monitor the speed of a vehicle, identify risky driving manoeuvres and compare driver performance to the average for the fleet as well as providing feedback on the amount of fuel consumed.

All company owners have a duty of care to their employees, so as well as monitoring their driving, when providing company vehicles for your staff you must be certain that they are fit for purpose, well serviced and safe for the employee to use.

Ensure your vehicles are purchased or leased from a reputable source and are serviced regularly to keep them in tip-top condition. It can be a hassle keeping track of so many but don't wait until there's a problem to get the vehicle checked over. Your duty of care means you must take a proactive role in ensuring they remain safe to drive.

Maintenance is a major factor both in ensuring the vehicle is safe and fit to drive, but also in whether to make the switch to electric, plug in or hybrid vehicles as they need specialist maintenance.

Managing a fleet can present an almost endless list of dilemmas and challenges to overcome but understanding the budget and priorities of your organisation can help you tackle the problems. Looking after your employees and helping them stay safe on the road, whilst also protecting your vehicles and cutting emissions may sound like an easy task but it requires commitment and perseverance.

Regardless of the size of your fleet, juggling priorities and confronting the ever-changing issues can be a challenge for all managers, big and small.